The science every professional should learn to prepare for your next career move and live a happier life
How to prepare for your next career move?
I have been on both sides of the high tech job market for a long time, details on About Us and my LinkedIn profile, as an engineer in three countries and an international headhunter based in San Francisco Bay Area for tech companies in the US and China. My goal for this blog is to share my experiences here at MichelleYouBiz.com and my insights on career and life, and talk about the topics that most professionals care about.
I have so many stories to share with you about my long list of job titles with even more job functions as an employee, and an even longer history as an entrepreneur wearing multiple hats while running my international headhunting, executive recruiting, career coaching and other businesses and managing the staff. I have also gone through major changes and setbacks in my life and had to make tough decisions that would affect both my work and life in a very significant way.
I have been wondering about what I should talk about first on this blog while working on the technical aspects of this website. I have thought about many options and try to figure out what would be the best choice for me to kick off this blog officially and present something interesting and valuable to you and other professions? Overwhelmed with all kinds of possibilities and not sure which one to choose, I quickly realized that I was having this psychological dilemma that observed by American psychologist Barry Schwartz in his book - The Paradox of Choice – Why More Is Less.
So I decided that I should start from psychology - the science every professional should learn for career advancement and personal happiness, and how important psychology is for every professional to prepare yourself for your next career move, compete in the job market now or in the future, and live a happier life.
As an engineer or other professional, most of us understand how important to keep learning and preparing ourselves for the next career move and future job change. Most professionals are working very hard on learning new skills and keep themselves up to date with cutting edge technologies as well as important soft skills. But many people have overlooked the most important thing - to learn about yourself.
I'll share with you how important psychology is for my career, my businesses and my life. You will learn some detailed information about how psychology has helped me to work with my clients - the hiring companies, and with job candidates. You'll also learn about more benefits from psychology and how you can start to learn more about psychology.
Now, let's start from how this paradox of choice has affected you psychologically to make your decisions for your career and life.
How did abundant choices affect your career, job and life?
We assume more options will make us happier, but often time, it turns out that we have to spend more time and efforts to make a decision and may become frustrated for having to give up other opportunities. As pointed out by Barry Schwartz in his book, "Learning to choose is hard. Learning to choose well is harder. And learning to choose well in a world of unlimited possibilities is harder still, perhaps too hard."
Did you find yourself confused in front of tons of different cereals or breads in a supermarket? After trying to compare the complicated ingredients and getting exhausted, you just stuck with whatever you have bought before, or grab the ones that closer to you, and sometimes, you just gave up with a sigh and moved on to the next aisle? Did you have a hard time to figure out which job to choose when you got two job offers, or was wondering if you should quit your job to start up a business?" From the mundane to the major challenges in our personal life and professional career, everybody will experience this kind of paradox of choice in one way or another, but most of us are not aware of the psychology behind this.
On the other hand, many businesses have done a lot of psychological experiments base on psychological theories described in The Paradox of Choice and created marketing strategies to promote their products more effectively and improve the user experiences for their customers. Applying theories in psychology with creative solutions has been a critical strategy for the success of all sizes of businesses. Based on my own experiences, I believe that learning the science of psychology is also extremely important for individuals to succeed at work and live a happier life.
When did I start to learn psychology?
The seed of my interest in psychology was planted in my heart when I was a middle schooler. One day, I found a book called Educational Psychology that my older brother brought home from college for his summer reading when he was pursuing his teaching degree in Physics. I was absorbed in the book immediately and finished it within a couple of days like reading a fiction, because it was not a big book. It was translated from English that written by an American psychologist whose name I don’t remember at all.
But I never forgot one of stories from the book and it has been stuck in my head as of today. It was about an identical twin girls who looked just exactly the same and had always been living together with their parents, but they behaved in a quite opposite way. The first born was only a few minutes older but was much more mature and confident. She has shown a very different personality than her sister who was often hiding behind her back quietly while she was doing all the talking with the adults who were interviewing them. As a very curious teenager, I was fascinated by the psychological experiments mentioned in the book and tried to understand the psychological theories.
Since then, I was very interested in reading psychology books or articles and observing people's behaviors. But I didn’t get a chance to seriously learn psychology in college because it was not offered as an option for engineering students at that time. Then I was busy learning technologies and forgot about psychology until a long time later when I was preparing for my career change. Once I started to systematically study psychology, I was hooked immediately again. I enrolled in online classes one at a time while I was busy taking care of my two toddlers and my family. I read psychology books and articles whenever I got a chance about the topics that I was interested in. I wish that I had started it earlier, because it would help me to better understand myself and the important issues in my life earlier so that I could take actions when I was younger.
How did psychology help me as an executive recruiter?
Psychology is the scientific study of the mind and behavior, according to the American Psychological Association. From my own experience, psychology has been really helpful for me to understand better about people, how humans think and behave, and made it much easier for me to communicate with a wide array of people that come from different background and help me grow my businesses.
For example, while I was running my recruiting business and looking for executives and top engineers and other professionals for companies in the US and China, the most important step at the beginning of my recruiting process was to interview my clients who were in the industries where I came from, such as high tech and finance, or in the area that I was not familiar with, such as medical device or health care.
My Interview with hiring companies as their executive recruiter
I would meet with the decision maker of the hiring company, usually the founder of a start-up, or the hiring manager at a big company, to understand better about the company, its business, the job position, and the decision maker’s own background and personality. It was critical for me to ask the right questions and discover what exactly the company wanted from the candidates, and what were the decision maker's own expectations, particularly his/her desired qualifications and personal traits of the candidates that had not or could not been written on the job description.
This kind of conversations were not only essential for me as their executive recruiter, but also important for the decision maker to find out some important details that they had overlooked. Working together, we would be able to fine tune the job description and set up clear goals in order to find the right candidates. For C-suite executive positions I was recruiting for, such as Chief Executive Officer, Chief Technology Office, Chief Marketing Office, or even co-founder for start-ups, due to the significance of these positions and ever-changing business at start-up companies, we would need to have such meetings many times to make adjustments to adapt to new changes, and get a better picture for a perfect candidate even after we have already started our recruiting process for a while.
My Interview with job applicants in high tech, finance and more
Similarly, when I started to look for the right people to hire for my clients to fill up diverse job positions I recruited for, the most essential part of the process was to interview candidates with even more broader background, professional levels, technical fields, personalities and etc. who spoke different languages in different time zones in the US, China and other counties. Psychology has played a very important role for me to accomplish these very challenging tasks that require versatile expertise and sophisticate skills, particularly people skills.
Why is it important to learn psychology for your career and life?
Learning psychology has helped me tremendously in so many ways for my work, and more importantly for my life. It has helped me understand much better about myself and what I want at each different stage of my life, and this has been essential for me to make critical decisions that would have significant ripple effects to my career, businesses and personal life.
Back to my early paradox of choice to officially kick off my blogging here, I decided that I should talk about something that is fundamental to both our work and life and is incredibly beneficial to every professional but has been overlooked by many people - psychology, the science to study ourselves as a human being. I believe that no matter if you are in engineering or science, finance or other fields, the most valuable asset in your company is people, and the most important skills for you are people skills if you want to advance your career further, or expand your business as an entrepreneur. More importantly, I believe that it is the foundation for us to build healthy relationships and live a happier life.
Recommended psychology books for you to read
I hope that you will find some valuable information so far and may be inspired to look for some psychology books to read to learn a little bit more about people and particular about yourself, become a better person, work smarter and enjoy more! If you don't want to be overwhelmed by the long list of books to choose, I would recommend you that:
- First, check out The Paradox of Choice, a great book to start,
- Second, search for Barry Schwartz's other books for any book interesting to you,
- Then go from there, find other psychology books that you may need at that time.
Enjoy the psychological benefits and appreciate the beauty of nature here
I am glad that you have reached to the end of my long post, and I think that you should reward yourself with something relaxing.
I have prepared a video for you to enjoy the beauty and wilderness of Mother Nature at this botanical garden in San Francisco Bay Area where my husband and I visited recently. I hope that it may inspire you to visit your local botanical gardens, find out more beauty with you own eyes and immerse yourself in nature.
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2/24/22 5:19 PM