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Marketing and Communications Talent

August 2, 2016

A Fortune Cookie’s Role in Career Planning

Fortune[1]

A friend of mine recently opened up a fortune cookie and received the following message: “The sky’s the limit. But only to the end of the month.” A couple of days later he was presented with an attractive job opportunity, something he wasn’t actively seeking.

Paying heed to Confucius, he didn’t dismiss this opportunity out of hand. For the record, it came from a company who knew him – and kept tabs on him – from a previous consulting gig.

So, like many uber talented people, he wasn’t putting himself out there but he did have a firm idea of what the next career rung looked like when it came calling. Furthermore, he had a list of things that were ‘must haves’, ‘prefer to haves’, and ‘stay away froms’.

This preparedness allowed the negotiation process to go smoothly and relatively quickly. And voila, my friend’s career couldn’t be in any better shape today.

By the way, the fortune cookie’s end of month expiration also became prophetic as he accepted the offer on the 28th day of the month. You wouldn’t think the deal would have gone south if negotiations had rolled over into the first few days of the following month. But who am I to say.

There are a few dynamics worth pointing out here. First, the realization that really talented people continue to get discovered and actively pursued. They’re not subjected to the b.s. that is today’s recruitment game. No phantom postings, key word gibberish, vanishing recruiters, insufferably long timelines, etc.

Secondly, if you’re fortunate to be in this subset it still takes more than sheer talent. The ability to act boldly and decisively is a nice add-on. This doesn’t mean that the willingness to go from zero to sixty will necessarily end in a new job. But it does point to a willingness to lean in and see what the end game looks like even when the pace is a little out of whack.

Next, the passive job seeker lobby is alive and well. While talented folks who really get it rarely campaign for jobs they still have a good feel for what their future career path looks like. Companies, meanwhile, do what they can to crack this lobby. A feeling permeates the corporate community that ‘A’ level talent NOT aggressively pursuing a job opening carries extra sizzle. Kind of like being smitten with that girl in high school who never looked your way.

Finally, never pooh-pooh fortune cookies. Or anything else that comes with a little pixie dust attached to it. Face it, even with the best of intentions careers can only be so planned out.

The lion’s share of elite talent I work with fit this mold. People who are at the top of their game – check. Those who understand what the next great thing looks like when it comes calling – check. Not turning into a wallflower when that right thing ultimately does appear – check.  Being transparent about needs, wants, and can’t haves so that all parties can focus on the potential fit of the opportunity – check and check.

In no way am I diminishing the stress that accompanies a job change. By nature certain people operate more boldly than others. But at the end of the day a job switch is a very big deal to anyone going through it. Yet those people who have the right stuff and can control the process, rather than be at the mercy of it, are worth their weight in gold. And The Gould Group makes no bones about the fact that we are in fact gold hunters.

So if your next fortune cookie proclaims you would be wise to” go after the gold in them thar hills”, give us a holler because we’re always mining.