Good News for Connecticut Career Changers

What you can do – not your resume – matters in new world of work

Since I run The Learning Consultants, an educational consultancy based in Connecticut, as well as Career Counseling Connecticut, I receive many inquiries from educators seeking career counseling.

Quite often, I decline taking on such clients because I can usually help them informally.

Connecticut school systems, like many bureaucratic old world of work institutions, hire based on the check the box procedural method.  Candidates need to have X, Y, and Z criteria. My father-in-law knows more about history than most of my college history professor brethren.  Despite the fact that he has deep historical knowledge, possesses fantastic communication ability, and was a highly regarded teacher for 30 plus years, he would not be considered for history teaching positions because his degrees, certification, and teaching experience are all in chemistry.

Similarly, Bill Gates would not be “qualified” to teach a basic computer or business class.

Crazy, I know, but it also helps make my informal career counseling work with Connecticut teachers very easy.

Step 1: Get the criteria required by school systems in your region.

Step 2: Network

Many large companies that are still stuck in the old world of work framework hire in similar fashion.  Such companies post jobs on Monster.com and let a computer scanner determine who gets to meet the hiring manager.

Fortunately, the new world of work is different.  What can you do?  That’s the question being asked by smaller, innovative companies.  The ethos of the start-up world created this different paradigm.

Tech start-ups were often formed by “coders”.  These computer programming types did not care as much about work experience because all that mattered was actual ability.  That someone worked at IBM for 20 years didn’t matter if he was being compared with a guy off the street who was better at coding in Java.

When I was making my transition from the legal world into the entrepreneurial one, I worked on a project basis with several start-ups.  I had been cultured in the old work of work mentality.  Big law firms compel specialization.  This lack of adaptability is one of the reasons Big Law is in big trouble.  So, I was surprised and delighted by the lack of interest in pigeon-holing me according to my background.  One of the CEOs who hired me said: “let’s see what you can do.”  This more nimble new world of work suited my generalist nature wonderfully well. That was a long time ago.  This new way of thinking is becoming more common place.

How does this work if you are in a career transition?  My friend was laid off from a job of 25 plus years.  She had been in publishing.  “That’s all I’ve ever done.  I don’t know anything else.”

Nonetheless, I hired her for a project based marketing gig.  It was not a charitable good deed.  My friend is dynamic, engaging, and hard working.  I didn’t care that she did not have experience related to the specific project.  I knew she would perform wonderfully and she did.

A few months thereafter, she was in contention for a full time marketing and sales position.  The owner of the company called me as a reference.  She, too, had the mindset of the new world of work and didn’t care that my friend had minimal background in sales and marketing.  I explained to her why I hired my friend and why I thought she was a fit for the position at issue.  A short time later, she offered my friend a job.