Have your say on mental health and careers

Mental Health issues and work are often closely intertwined.

I have found, by the time you feel the sense of urgency to act on career-related issues, there is often a buildup of other things that have significant mental health impacts.

If this sounds like you, and you’re in Victoria (Australia), you might have some insights to contribute to the new (updated) Mental Health and Wellbeing Act.

A genuine engagement process is currently underway, calling for individuals and organisations to contribute. This isn’t a survey or a tick and flick process like signing another online petition. This is a genuine opportunity for people who have well-considered ideas, to contribute (if you’re interested in the findings of the Royal Commission into mental health go here).

Before making your submission, take some time to read the relevant materials, perhaps consider writing a draft or an outline of your key points on paper, so when you go to the submission page you feel ready with clear thinking and can get your points across in an ordered, logical way that another reader can follow.

I encourage anyone with an interest in this space to take the opportunity to engage in our democracy and make a contribution to improving mental health service policy and projects.

For more information and to make a submission, please go to the page on Engage Victoria (https://engage.vic.gov.au/mhwa).

Purpose-driven job hunting resources

We all know the big players in the world of job advertising. I won’t name them, they are rather ubiquitous and accessible.

However, if you are looking for something different, perhaps you’ve experienced a lack of meaning in your work, or you’ve decided to contribute your skills towards solving sticky and challenging problems, or you have had a brilliant career and now have the capacity to spend time giving back to the world, these lesser-known job boards could be useful to you.

Ethical Jobs
This organisation has grown in capacity and is a go-to source of job advertisements in Australia.
More than just jobs ads, you can also find advice and insight to help with hunting for roles.
For those looking to plan a transition to working in the not-for-profit arena, this can also be a great place to explore the types of employers here, survey roles, and pay information.
Find out more about Ethical Jobs and their vision here https://www.ethicaljobs.com.au/about

Probono Australia
Probono describe themself as a
“group of socially-minded individuals who help purpose-driven people and organisations like yourself to grow your impact. We believe society is better off when there is a thriving social economy. So over two decades ago, before the words “social enterprise” even existed, we started one. Our mission is simple: to activate good intentions. We’re a proud B Corp. And our name? It comes from pro bono, meaning “for good”. Because that’s what we are.”
There’s more to their offering than job ads alone, take some time to explore the site.

NGO Recruitment
NGO Recruitment is closer to the traditional agency model many job seekers would be familiar with. They have a vast array of services and have a long, successful history in Australia, and also work internationally across the Asia Pacific.
If you are beginning to consider or plan a transition away from the private sector, there are a number of resources to utilise in this transition. I recommend making contact directly with NGO Recruitment and seeing what guidance or information is available.

80,000 Hours
“You have 80,000 hours in your career.
How can you best use them to help solve the world’s most pressing problems?”

This organisation is UK-based. While you may not use it for job hunting as such, this is a fantastic place for highly skilled people to engage with concepts around purpose-driven work and may inspire ideas that you can apply locally.
A fantastic resource to make use of is the guided career planning process.
This process is very useful for people who have a solid awareness and confidence in their skills and looking for a way to create a career plan focused on purpose and solving problems. It may not suit people who need to build their self-awareness or are experiencing being stuck due to other challenges.
Take a peek here – https://80000hours.org/career-planning/process/

If you feel like you are ready to work through a process of finding, refinding, or refining your career path, but perhaps not wanting to engage with one-to-one support check out these other resources and this post on open-source career tools.

Working around the passion problem

In most developed economies, work’s pervasiveness in our lives has increased at a rate similar to the explosion in the hard-costs of living. At the same time, general satisfaction and well-being had slid quickly over the last two generations.

Needless to say, our relationship with work has become complex. We now expect to have many of our needs met through work that we had previously satisfied in many other, diverse ways.

This increase in dissatisfaction has given rise to an opportunistic megabeast of an industry, selling us a romantic vision of what work, and life should be. The linchpin of the sales pitch is passion (and getting filthy rich, but that’s a topic for another day).

“​…everyone has a passion, just follow it…”​

It sounds beautiful and simple when set against the complexity of what is around us, and what kind of horrible pessimist would argue against it anyway? Some people are lucky, their passion is so obvious and naturally aligned to their existing talents from the getgo they couldn’t fall from that path if they tried. This is rare. However, this is the vision laid out as the norm, sold in the industrialised version of self-help, via books, and multi-level courses.

In many ways, they’re designed to ensure you second guess your decisions and aspirations. Their directions almost always skip that hard soul-searching part needed to discover your inner-most passions (which you can only identify if you have actually experienced that thing previously, whatever it is), and when you do identify them, that same industry sets you up to fail if the passions don’t appear grand enough.

For example, if you discovered an interest in, and talent for cold-chain logistics, in most self-help arenas that entirely purposeful career would be dull and unlikely to fit the “living your best life”​ criteria or simply not an industry we’re comfortable associating the word passion with, so you overlook it. We’ve placed too many layers of romantic expectations over our workview and it has killed our confidence in decision making.

This absolutely does not mean I propose settling for a job you dislike, or one where you’re treated like garbage in, or a job in a toxic environment that you don’t fit in to, or a soul-crushing job you hate…or worse (I’ve been there and barely escaped by the skin of my teeth).

Instead, I propose a few alternate questions to work through, giving yourself time, without expectations, to orientate or recalibrate your inner compass.

Instead of asking yourself (or a friend or colleague), what are you passionate about, try this activity and set of questions:

  1. Come up with at least three or four answers to the questions in the slides, writing them on sticky-notes will be useful.
  2. Mix and match your answers together. Play with them in different combinations. Test them out creating a story or narrative that you can mentally try on. Write up the versions you want to keep track of.
  3. Keep the playful mindset going and have a crack at the activity on the last slide. Go all-in on the activity and make something tangible so your brain experiences it in a deep way. You can take the learning from this to kick-start a goal-orientated career plan.
Want to work through a thorough, self-directed career clarity process?
Try this kit I’ve put together or check out the other inspiring and genuinely useful items to help with your career.
Feel free to reach out with any questions and I’ll try my best to help.

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Building your resume? Don’t obsess over the template

An important tool for many people in securing employment is your resume. It sounds obvious, however, in the throes of job hunting, we often treat this as a tickbox item on a to-do list.

In the rush to simply get it done, I’ve found a lot of people focus on the search for the perfect resume templates, sometimes bordering on obsession. And so, after an intense period of working with clients on their resumes, and working on some rapid recruitment projects where I filtered through large volumes of resumes, I recorded this quick (and very basic) video.

While working with people on their resume, I’ve found refocusing on why you are writing a resume and reconnecting with basic communication skills helps makes the process more purposeful, and this flows through your writing.

If you have been struggling to sit down and create or tailor your resume, take a peek at the video and see if it helps set the scene,



Mass job opportunities in Victoria

Melbourne’s lockdown has been extended and Australia as a whole is way behind the developed world in its covid vaccinations regime. It seems we’ll be on this rollercoaster for a while and the Victorian Government is staffing up as a response with mass recruitment exercise.

There’s a call out for 100 Authorised Officers, with a short-term contract until the end of July 2021. A short-term role may not sound like a compelling proposition to many people. However, these contracts are often extended and talented staff may quickly find other opportunities based on their performance in these roles. If you are currently unemployed, underemployed, or have been struggling to get some experience under your belt, this is a fantastic opportunity.

Authorised Officers (AO) are quite unique roles, with powers most other public servants don’t have. They support voluntary compliance and enforcement of legislation in a variety of government departments. These positions “will undertake the crucial task of monitoring and maintaining COVID-19 restrictions. You will help ensure business owners and individuals comply with the requirements of the Public Health and Wellbeing Act 2008.”

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#vicgovjobs #covidresponse #melbournelockdown

Mapping your motivations helps with career decisions

There are a seemingly endless number of personality and career tests out there. Often an absolutely overwhelming number to choose from. This in itself can be rather debilitating, especially when you feel under pressure to work through career issues and the fear of making the wrong choice already weighs heavily. It clouds your ability to make career decisions rather than enhancing them.

I have tried a few paid tools and assessment tests and have also found some quite useful free ones (check them out in this post). Most of these are quite similar. They focus mostly on your interests, then try to predict potential careers that interest you.

The challenge is, you can become overwhelmed with recommendations of a huge number of job titles and begin to get stuck focusing on the matching instrument itself, rather than seeing it as a starting point for exploration to support decision making.

There are two instruments that I recommend. The first is Morrisby Profile. Typically used with high school students, unlike most online tools, the long-form version provides a high degree of insight into capabilities and aptitudes, not just providing generic job matches based on interest. This makes a lot of people uncomfortable, it does counter the “you can do anything you stick your mind to” narrative because it does give a viable indication as to academic performance and the results can be challenging for some people. This tool itself is also useful for adults, however, the use in high schools provides a really great way to provide younger people with some practical starting points to acquire some self-knowledge and for career decisions.

The second instrument is Motiva (Motiva Individual 2). In my career transition, I tried a lot of tools, this is the one I found the most useful to support the decisions I was about to make.
This helped me unpack my different motivations, as well as the usual interests. It confirmed some things I already knew and added new information that helped refine tasks that I used in creating an action plan. What I found particularly unique in the process was comparing things that motivated me, to the job I was in and my level of satisfaction in that role. I knew that I was not happy where I was, though getting clarity about why and really pinpointing it was difficult. This gave me the insight I needed to manage some decisions.

The other really valuable piece of the puzzle that helped me, was to understand the type of environments that would suit me. In my working life, I’ve tried lots of different things. From working with children in foster care to the hyper-competitive world of advertising, taking small insights from each along the way.

Some clearly didn’t align with my values, particularly advertising. I was entirely the wrong fit, yet I persisted because I didn’t want to give up or be seen as a quiter. I was miserable in those environments and focused on trying to change and adapt myself. I’d invested so much time to find a way into an industry I thought would be a fun place for a creative thinker and didn’t want that investment to be wasted. It took a while before I admitted that my attention could have been better directed at determining more suitable places to contribute and design steps to move in that direction.

Overall, the Motiva tool helped place some rigour around my experiences and examine what I could learn from them, it provided a jumping off point to accelerate collating all the different elements to know my self better in a work sense. This is the reason it is now my go-to career tool to use with clients, where required.

Check out these two Career packages that include access to Motiva. Feel free to call me on 0418 678 611 to ask any questions or talk about my approach to career counselling. Thanks for reading – Mark

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Open-source career tools

Access to resources gives people a headstart in life and career. Without wanting to spark a debate around fairness, equity and social justice on this post, the gap between those who know how to access the help they need, and those who don’t, won’t or can’t is growing and it’s incredibly damaging in terms of economic development and productivity, and critically, health and wellbeing.

Thankfully, if you have the resource of time, and a little motivation, I have found some free tools that you can use to help build some of the self-awareness that is useful to help you build actions and directions useful in your career or work. These are all tools I used before changing careers.

Your Career Australian Federal Government Resource
This landing page displays a few useful resources to help you gather some career ideas or inspiration. What I think is particularly useful here is having several separate resources in one place. There are quizzes that will help you at various stages in your career decision journey. It could be a little overwhelming at first, so take a breath and give yourself time to explore the different tabs and navigate your way around the site.

Holland codes (RIASEC) on Opensource Psychometrics
This is probably the most common (and pervasive) assessment tool around. It forms the base of a lot of rebranded tools, both in paper and online.
“The Holland Occupational Themes is a theory of personality that focuses on career and vocational choice. It groups people on the basis of their suitability for six different categories of occupations. The six types yield the RIASEC acronym, by which the theory is also commonly known. The theory was developed by John L. Holland over the course of his career, starting in the 1950s. The typology has come to dominate the field of career counseling and has been incorporated into most of the popular assessments used in the field.”

My Future
This resource was designed with Australian high school students in mind, but please, if you’re an adult, don’t let that put you off. This is a very powerful free tool, better than most paid offerings on the market. It’s a resource I used around 18-24 months before deciding to undertake post-graduate study to become a career counsellor and I found it incredibly useful to explore the reality of different options.

Take some time to explore the site. Set up a profile and navigate through the questions. These seemed similar to the usual interest profiling type questions. The really useful part is having a profile to work with that you can keep coming back to.
From there you can launch into exploring different industries and start to build your own ideas as you learn.

You can retake the questions again to test the validity. The first time I jumped in and did it was a particularly difficult time at work, so I retook a few weeks late to compare the results (there were just slight changes, though I personally found it really interesting).

My Next Move – oNet Interests Profiler
Based on the Holland codes, however, this also links to other free career exploration resources. Great for sparking ideas and exploring connected industries.

5-Minute Career Action Plan
This is a nifty self-guided document published in the UK. Honestly, this will take you longer than 5 minutes, as it should. Treat it as a live document, you may not be able to answer all the questions, use them as prompts to guide your discovery.

Your local library!
Depending on where you live, local libraries often provide access to a huge array of underutilised resources. Particularly a growing range of digital resources like Linkedin Learning (perfect for testing interest in learning about subject areas before committing to formal study) and eBooks. They can often be good places to find out about local services, you may even discover local career support is available, waiting to help, but doesn’t have a marketing budget and struggle to promote themselves to people.
PS – I love libraries 🙂

Being happy at work is still a relatively new idea

If you have made it to the end of the week and feeling a bit crud, please take some consolation in knowing that you are not alone.

We get a front-row seat to view the lives of a teeny-tiny group of people on this planet who have it all, and, at the same time are being constantly bombarded by industries providing all types of promises that we can and should have that life too…now!
It becomes really easy to forget, the very idea that work will make us happy is a very new idea in human history.

Image: Career Crisis prompt cards

That doesn’t mean you should give up, water down your goals, or choose not to continue searching.
But this Friday afternoon, allow yourself a bit of love, knowing that the world we find ourselves in isn’t as easy to navigate as the influencer or self-help book author tells us.

Keep learning, thinking, testing, reflecting and adjusting, to build a way forward based on your own requirements and at your own pace, without judgment and benchmarks set by industries who need you unhappy to be profitable.

#careercrisis #selcare #careerideas #designingyourlife #DYL #careerexpectations #creativecareercounselling #careercounsellormelbourne

Resources I used to get unstuck: 1 – learning about why I was stuck

Mastery, autonomy and purpose – the ‘Holy Trinity’ of worklife

Years ago, long before bcoming a career counsellor, I found myself in a career blackhole that I struggled to understand (beyond the obvious feelings of ‘stuckness’) or plan a way out of. It was pretty horrible and I’ll talk about it more in other posts in the future.

I couldn’t afford the rates coaches were asking, and to be honest, they didn’t want me as a client either. So, my best option was to begin to hunt for self directed resources.

I stumbled across this video via some TED talks and I found it incredibly useful. I really did light a little spark in my brain numbed a bit by my work situation and I followed that little spark for several years…actually, I’m still following a thread of ideas that were sparked by this video.

I hope you find it helpful as well.

If you are interested in this type of thinking or have and interest in careers, ideas or art, please signup to my newsletter. They’re semi-regular, hopefully around monthly(ish) and you can unsubscribe anytime. Thanks in advance – Mark

#careers #thecreativecareercounsellor #southmelbournecareercounselling #careercounselling

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I’m developing my business, supporting people with their career quandaries, and adding new services and products all the time, including a series of workshops and art exhibitions later in 2021.
If you have an interest in careers, ideas, education or art, please signup for my newsletter. They’re likely to be small updates bi or tri-monthly, as new things come online.

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