I’ve spent most of the last 10 years trying to solve this puzzle.
What is it that makes a person happy, and how can you match that to a job?
Recruiting well changes lives. It builds companies, protects strategies, creates prosperity and literally, can change the course of a person’s life. Finding the way makes people happy. Being a great recruiter is nothing about knowing the business, and it is everything about knowing people. It took me a while to realise I had a skill for finding paths for other people. Here I am going to tell you how I do it.
The lady who recruited me when I was 23, put me right onto the senior appointments team, she wasn’t afraid, I was young. After 2 quarters I became one of the top billers. 10 weeks into my job, I placed my first Executive Director at UBS Bank, and the stream that followed lead the CEO down to my desk to shake hands a few weeks later. They couldn’t believe it. I found what I was good at, and I still love doing it today.
I learned to read people from a very young age. Who am I? I am a person who has been brought up wherever my parents lived, going to plenty of different schools, countries, never having a single place that you call home, does this to you. I am telling you this so that you understand, that everything I have learned I’ve learned from the ground up. I’ve questioned and reassessed myself hundreds of times. I’ve had to become the best at what I do, and on this journey, I’ve helped hundreds of other people find their way too.
Here I am going to tell you about what I’ve found, in the hope that it helps you, find your path too.
Try not to focus on one thing
The first thing I would like to say, about finding your top job for you, is it is not about one job. It is not about fixating on one thing, and believing that will make you happy. The reason this is often wrong, is that sometimes it doesn’t give you the other things that you actually need. Remember the phrase ‘win the battle but lose the war?’ it’s a bit like that, you get there only to find out that what you thought you wanted, isn’t really there. It’s a mirage. It’s only moving further away, and you can’t see it. It’s just out of range. Like starting one degree, and then changing to a second. Like getting to the middle of a book, and starting another without finishing the first. You never quite get there.
That’s because happiness is only found from within. Looking for it from outside will lead you on a journey that will never end. Don’t do this to yourself.
The right set of circumstances
What it is about, is finding the right set of circumstances, which work for your personality, you. You will be amazed at the number of times I advise people to consider things they otherwise wouldn’t have, because I sense that their personality just fits a company, a job, a project or a team, it works. It doesn’t just work, it works fantastically well. I’ve come to conclude that finding happiness at work is not about finding the job. It is about finding a magical combination of things that make your heart sing. Not every day, but more than most.
Almost all the people I work with are still at our clients, literally years later. The people I hired for UBS back in my early days, each stayed about 10 years. I remember when I left, nobody in the team could hire for UBS or JPM anymore. Because they weren’t doing it the way I was. Each person is unique, I still remember their CVs, their personalities, and some of them still follow my blogs today. How can you hire people like that, if you don’t understand their fundamentals?
My top 3 clues to your best work choices
I have tried to understand the many things that you need to find the right career, and I always go back to these three things.
The top three clues, are:
1) The things you enjoy doing
2) The areas where you feel confident
3) Where you know you are good at solving problems (and are often asked to help other people)
Most things, relate back to those three. So if you are struggling to find your calling, look at the above. It is in there.
I’m not afraid to move people cross sector, when their culture fit was right, then I watch as they get promoted, time and again, and now run whole areas, and even whole companies. I recruited the once boyhood genius who could solve the Rubik’s cube in under 60 seconds (when he was 10), to one of my clients 20 years later, who needed an expert in collateral management – but basically a maths expert. He flew him to Switzerland and hired him in just one week. I moved him across from hedge funds because there weren’t many locally. He had the skills.
I advised a person I interviewed over the phone in the States to buy a flight for over $1,000 just so they would meet one client of mine in Europe, because I knew he would love him. He did. They clicked, he offered him the job at the end of the first meeting. He stayed there for over 7 years. The client told me it was one of the best hires he’d ever made.
I do this by matching the things that are important, not by focusing on the small details that bog people down like company brands, and temporary things like money, but by focussing on people, their dreams, wishes, their personalities. I match these to my client’s own. That’s real power. Understanding the long-term, and maybe even the forever piece. When you’re building a management team, it’s about forever, not five years.
The things about life that are not important
The thing which we are often sold, or rather, mis-sold, is the idea that a job, or career, is what defines you. Success in your job is important, but it will never replace the person that you are outside of your work. It will never be more important than the success of your friendships, the relationship you have with your kids, or the relationship you have with your best friend. Your work is not the only thing about you. It is also not just one thing. Your work can be many things to you. But it is not the only thing.
If you keep questioning the role you are doing, but it is something you have always enjoyed, ask yourself, why you are doing this? I don’t believe in coincidences. If you have always found yourself in analytical roles, I would expect you to have a strong analytical mind-set, and I wouldn’t advise you to go into a straight sales role. I am not saying you can’t, but it is unlikely you will change your character so entirely. History can help us to predict the future, don’t ignore everything that you have done so far that has got you where you are at today.
The wrong job or just the wrong company?
My guess is that if you like what you do, but you are unsure about you future it normally indicates you are in the wrong company, not necessarily in the wrong job. You may be surprised at how differently you will feel in a new environment, often the small things are actually the big things. They don’t upset you one by one, but over the years you realise you’ve been the boiling frog. Like I said earlier, it’s not about finding ‘one job’ – it’s about creating the right circumstances to feel happy. You will be surprised at how many people let things weigh them down before they leave. Sometimes it makes people leave careers that they love, because they are actually in the wrong company, and normally it’s a personality thing. That makes me feel deeply sad, because being in the wrong company can make people lose sight of their dreams, and their way. They lose their confidence in themselves. They might leave a sector to which they bring so much, and it could take them a long time to get back again. Until then, they’re lost. In limbo.
There is a lot of bad career advice out there. There are a lot of movies and romantic visions of what your calling should be, what a great career looks like, and different visions of success; the scientist, the doctor, the humanitarian, the entrepreneur. I hate these visions! Why? Because they are so misleading.
How can you hear yourself, in a world which makes so much noise? You can’t. In order to find your true calling, you should be prepared to step away from the stories. How can you find your true calling while watching movies about everyone else’s? It’s nothing but confusing for most people. And it’s wrong.
Let’s have a reality check.
Go back to the three clues. Find those in a strong enough combination and it’s not about the money, the money never lasts. It’s not about the glory, because it won’t be enough. It’s not about the fame, being known to others, because of the sacrifice of losing yourself to get it. Look at the number of actors who lead unhappy lives. It is only about you. Have the strength to depart from someone else’s vision of success in order to step into your own, and step in with both feet. Jump in. That’s when you know you are in harmony with your true calling. Stop looking at everyone else’s and be confident in your own. They will never be like you.
As for me, you’re looking at it right now. I was put here to help others to have the confidence to step in with both feet, to tell them that that feeling, it was right. That click they had with a manager in a meeting, wasn’t made up. The excitement they felt when they knew their thoughts were on the same page, wasn’t luck. It wasn’t unlikely. It was meant to be. That is the stuff that builds things. That is the power that real careers, dreams are made of.
They are the kind of jobs that last for 10 years or more. They are the kind of companies made of fantastic, engaged people that make the work into fun, and the hard times into successes. That’s what success looks like to me. That’s how you find your true calling. The irony? Most of the time, it’s not about the job at all.
Every few months, I try to take on one special project, where I try to place someone really outside the box who is struggling to find their path in Fund Services / Asset Management. If you want help with career orientation and you are prepared to listen, and you work in the investment industry in Luxembourg or Europe, please drop me a line with your CV.