I was thinking back to the appallingly misguided careers advice I got at school and wondered on what basis the career’s advisor came up with her suggestions. I’d always wanted to be an architect and the career’s advisor asked me if I had any idea of what I’d like to do when I leave school? I said, “Yes, I’d like to be an architect.” This threw her, I’m sure she was hoping for something vague so that she could be in total control of the interview, so undaunted, she proceeded to through doubts at my lazy, malleable and youthful mind.
“Hmmm” she pondered for a moment or two. “Do you like maths?” she enquired. “No, not really” I answered. “Do you like physics?” she said with a little grin, knowing she was onto something. “No, I don’t.” I said without an ounce of sarcasm – after all it was a completely true statement, I hated science (Why do I now like science documentaries on the telly?). At this point my recollection may be slightly warped by my now vengeful and less youthful mind, but I swear she leaned back in her chair and folded her arms with a self-satisfied look on her face. Presumably she thought to herself, ‘That’s another one who is doomed to a life of not quite knowing what they want to do.’
I suppose if I was a career’s advisor the thought of young and ambitious, dare I say cocky even, young adults starting their journey on a career far more fruitful than my own would get me down a bit and to cheer myself up I might also trample over what little ambition they have (I hope not though!).
Having thoroughly trampled over my, let’s be honest, not very passionate dream she proceeded to proffer some ideas of her own. “You are quite creative aren’t you?”, she said, presumably because she’d read I’d taken art at GCSE level. Of course I might have taken art as it seemed like a nice easy option, but I let it drop, “I guess so.” I replied. “Hmmm, I think what you need to look at is a job with a creative outlet.” she said with the kind of triumphalism that you’d expect from the PE teacher if our team ever beat another school at anything. Forgive me for not being too impressed, I’d already told her I wanted to be an architect and even the most average of GCSE students could grasp that there was a creative outlet in that role. Come to think of it, I really should have asked to see her credentials – I doubt if she passed a single exam, unless you could get an O-Level in smug self satisfaction?
“What you need to look at is marketing.” she said with all the authoritativeness you get from someone who doesn’t have a clue about what they are saying. “Right, thanks. I’ll do that” I said and being good to my word I did. It sounded great to me – supposedly I’d lunch a lot, play golf and drive a flash car and get paid a fortune in the meantime, who wouldn’t sign up to that?
So, there you go. If I was to offer up any advice on careers advice it would be, don’t listen to someone that couldn’t get a proper job.
I have come to suspect that careers advisers are taught to judge people on their haircuts. Bear with me on this a moment and I’ll explain. There does seem to be a strong correlation between people’s haircuts and their line of work. Here are some examples:
Scientists invariably have unkempt hair and bushy eyebrows, and I’m just talking about the women!
Engineers have very straightforward haircuts that tell you they are straightforward people.
Ponytails. Are they really secret fetishists that like to wear girls hairbands?
Whatever the latest fashion is. Let’s be honest marketing people are usually a little too up-to-date.
I could go on, but I think I’ve irrefutably made my point. Given the ‘marketing’ nature of this blog I’d better weave in a little marketing know-how here. Well, I guess the point is that when you’re segmenting your audience you can get very scientific indeed and find more and more ways of identifying your ultimate target audience. This is great, but you should also be prepared for the fact that sometimes people don’t conform to type. Also a great place to start identifying new customers is your existing customers, listen to them and understand them better and you’ll have a better idea at what to look out for in your next new customer. See, if that careers advisor had a little marketing know-how I’d need to change my name to the architecture moaner, which doesn’t quite work. Maybe she had a point…