Insights from practitioners in Information Management

Issue 59 – Attitude – I dont think so

Welcome to the July edition of the Registrant Resources Edition of Information Overload. This month we look at the important that attitude has on our ability to get a job and to hold on to it, as well as the attitude that we have towards our personal and professional development.

In this issue we will look at:
• Tax reminder:
• Training for where the jobs are:
• “What do you mean ‘ATTITUDE’ “?
• Continuing Professional Development:
• Job Opportunities:
• A Thought to ponder.

Tax reminder:
Have you recently re-joined IEA after a period with another employer? If you have you may like to remember that you will need to fill in the tax forms ASAP and send them back to us, otherwise we may not be able to subtract the correct amount of tax. 
Please note; this also applies to anyone who has recently changed positions, not just IEA.
For those of you who are working for more than one employer, you need to remember to obtain the tax-free threshold from the organisation with whom you are doing the most work, and likely to earn the most amount of money with throughout the year. Put simply, the “second” job will be taxed at a higher rate than the first, so it would make sense to ensure that you get the maximum benefit from the government that you can, otherwise you might be in for a nasty surprise when you get around to doing your tax return next year.

Training for where the jobs are:
It makes sense when you think about it, doesn’t it, to train where we know there are job vacancies. The problem with that though is will the jobs still be there when we qualify?

According to reports, demand for ICT professionals has far outstripped people or colleges able to train, re-train or re-develop people with the necessary skills base, with over 30,000 positions available in Australia alone. If that wasn’t enough to make you sit up and notice, the Best Internationals Group IT Talent Index, says that demand for permanent employees has average around 66% during 2007.  Human Resources, 26 June 2007, p4

Or you could dig holes and build walls (especially in WA) if it’s just money you’re after.

And then of course there are the records positions that are on offer. Rachel Moylan, IEA’s Employment and Liaison Officer regularly checks the online employment boards to see what kinds of positions there are available. One of the things she has noticed is how many agencies are offering the same position, which means that no-one has people with records management skills and abilities. Everyone who has the right skills set is already working. The agencies are all trawling the same net for the same kinds of people.

Of course this does mean that there are lots of job opportunities open to you, and you can go where the money is – if that is your desire. But a prospective employer still needs to see a progression in skills and abilities. Have you done the same job for a number of different companies? Do you cut and paste the same set of duties and responsibilities into a new space on the CV and change the dates and the employer’s name? Let me put it this way, if you haven’t kept up to date with what is happening in the industry, if you haven’t undertaken some kind of on-the job training, or formal course of study, when the job boom comes to an end, you will struggle to find another position.

But formal training is only one aspect; the other mitigating factor to take into consideration is “attitude”.

“What do you mean ‘attitude’?”
Attitudes and attributes are two of the biggest deciding factors when it comes to getting a job in a tight labour market. Yes I know that it isn’t a tight labour market at the moment (if you’re looking for work), but humour me just for a minute.

As you know completion of a selection criteria for any position is based on the experience, skills and abilities that you have already. The answers to these questions determine the likely response to future issues and challenges towards a future position, which is why employers like to pose them. Part of your response will be reflective of the kind of training that you have undertaken, it is also the attitude that you have towards yourself, your profession and those people you have worked with. What is interesting is that the attitude that you have towards all of that shows through in your writing!!

The choice of words that you use in an application is directly related to whether you liked the job you were in at the time of the example you had chosen. If you didn’t like the supervisor, or more importantly the supervisor didn’t like you, your words will be tense and stilted. Whereas writing about a position that you liked and enjoyed means that your writing will flow. A hint – try and choose examples from positions that you liked working in.

But what has this got to do with attitude, attributes and moving through a course of study?

What are your motives behind a course of study? Given that formal education is time consuming and expensive, do you have the stamina to undertake the workload on top of whatever it is you are currently doing? If you resent the workload, don’t enjoy the course, you are less likely to get good marks, and you will resent the cost associated with getting it. This will then reflect on the jobs that you are likely to apply for. “I paid good money for this piece of paper, so I am going to make sure I get the best deal from the employer, and if they don’t give me what I want – then I’m going to find an employer who will. I deserve it.”

In a job market that is full of vacancies it is fine to move through positions without thought or consequence to your day-to-day actions or attitudes that you have. However, there will come a time when having a CV that looks like yellow pages, may not show your skills and abilities in the best possible light.

So before you decide to move onwards and sideways, or undertake any kind of training you need to understand the driving force behind it. At IEA, we always put out an evaluation sheet at the end of a training course. Some of the responses we get are indicative that there were some people who didn’t want to attend, they were  “told” they should come. These are the ones that are also likely to be non-responsive in class, or worse – disruptive, and get the least out of the course because they cannot get over the fact that they have been “told” – it was not something they chose to do.

Continuing Professional Development
So now I have said all that, is Continuing Professional Development that important? The answer is YES. Show a prospective employer that you have spent time working on your skills, learning the new technologies when opportunities present themselves is absolutely vital. As we have mentioned before it is no good going for a job as a database support manager if the last computer you used was a BBC Micro!!

Continuation of study is a vital component of every professional regardless of industry.  If you don’t keep up with what is happening you will find yourself being overtaken by those people who do.  Some people cannot understand why they miss out on promotions.  Is it because they did not take the opportunity to promote themselves, and take each and every learning opportunity that was offered to them, or asked for?  The answer is most probably YES.

Additional on the job training is considered one of the best ways of boosting morale within an organisation, and the organisation is usually rewarded with happier more productive and knowledgeable staff members.  It’s also a great way of learning about new technologies, principles, standards and methods. 

The Oxford English Dictionary states that a profession is a “Vocation or calling, one that involves some branch of advanced learning or science.” 

As we develop, so we grow.  As our learning grows, so do our opportunities.

But as you can also appreciate, it is not just the “Professional Development” that will get you the position that you have always wanted. It’s your “Personal Development” that can make the biggest difference. Yes, we are going straight back to the attitude factor. Where you end up is directly related to how much effort you are willing to put into yourself. A disclaimer at this point, this is not ego. This does not mean that you deserve anything because… it means that you have developed your personal and professional skills set. You see a piece of paper may get you the job, but you still have to work with other people. Team work, interpersonal skills, Time management – they are all vitally important when you have landed the position and want to keep it.

So next time you are considering a course of study, ask – not only will this piece of paper develop my skills set, but what else can I learn on the way.

A Thought to Ponder

“Education’s purpose is to replace an empty mind with an open one”
Malcolm Forbes (1919-1990)