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How to Have a Long Lasting Career (Case Study)

How to Have a Long Lasting Career (Case Study)

When you've been at your job for 6 months and suddenly you're the longest standing member of staff

Ever been at work and someone asks you "how long have you been working here now?" you respond that you have been there for about 6 months or maybe a year and everyone replies with the same comment ... "it's like you're part of the furniture now." (it wasn't funny the first time so who knows why they thought it be funnier the 10th time)

But when did being somewhere a few months mean you're there for the long haul and why does the job for life mantra seem to have disappeared? As according to Gallup 60% of millennials are currently open to a new job - so what are we all looking for?

Is it a lack of job security or are we are all just too eager to move onto the next thing and do something bigger and better? It got me thinking, how do you get a job for life? One which you enjoy, feel secure within and ultimately have the perfect work life balance. From my experience (during an 8 year career within recruitment I've worked for 4 companies and I've been classed as a "stayer") I thought this was too good to be true, a thing of the past.

Tea and Notebooks

Clearly, I'm no expert in this field so I thought I'd ask this question to someone who is; someone who has done it and got the t-shirt to prove it (or in the case of this person the suits to provide it.) For someone who has done countless interviews before, asking someone about their experience of a lasting career should be straight forward ... right?

Well it was definitely a first for me ... I interviewed my dad. So here's what I learnt after an afternoon (and a pub lunch) with my dad finding out how he achieved the "long lasting" and a successful career status.

The Background

My dad is a recently retired head teacher after a 39 year career in teaching where he lead a school to an outstanding rating and was even my head teacher when I was back in primary school. It always amazes me how many people ask me is your dad Mr ...? Just from the mere mention of my last name they begin to recall the times my dad had scolded them but would always finish off by letting me know how great he was.

I admire not only that my dad had a long career but also that he was successful enough for people to remember him years later. I'm completely bias but I have to agree with them, I never had a better teacher than the English Writing lessons I had with my dad as the teacher. (Hopefully he won't be grading this post!)  

The Interview

How did you start your career in teaching?

I didn't set out to be a teacher in the beginning. I left my degree and I wanted to be a lawyer or economist but one day I was on the bus and I saw a sign on the side of the street saying "be a teacher, be your own boss." 
Being my own boss appealed to me so I signed up for a yearlong contract which turned into a 39 year career. 
The first year was successful and when my 1st year ended I was offered a lot of positions which was an ego boost and I progressed quickly after that.
I spent 7 years in primary schools as a teacher and then was promoted to deputy and after 3 short years I become one of the youngest head in the country. 

39 years in teaching is definitely an achievement but what was the best part of having a long lasting career?

The relationships you build, working in a school for a long time you begin to see the children bring their own children to your school. I was also given so many opportunities to do other things, like I tried working as an inspector and as a consultant for a while which helped me realise I wanted to be a teacher; I wanted to be my own boss.

Be Your Own Boss

Do you think that being given all those opportunities is the reason you had such a long career?

Teaching is a vocation rather than a job; I never found there was a huge turnover of staff as it becomes a way of life. You do more in the job because you want to give opportunities to others.

What was the biggest success in your career?

In a 10 year period only ever recruiting outstanding teachers; there are less teachers available now so that was a great achievement to be able to spot talent. A good manager should always be able to spot talent to benefit the organisation. 

You talk about what makes a good manager but was there anyone you looked up to in your career?

My first head, she left you to get on with it. She understood that the only way to learn was from your own mistakes. She wouldn't correct you, instead she would ask you "what would you have done differently in that situation"  

Did she ever give you any good career advice?

Yes, she told me to use the phrase "could you" rather than telling people what to do as a manager. It gives them an option and if they say no you can ask them "why not?" It becomes more of a conversation rather than you dictating.
Also, to always be prepared for the unexpected. 

A lot of the quotes from my blog come from your old work diaries did you use quotes to inspire you?

I always had a theme each year and a target to achieve. I'd come up with sayings as it gave people a focus for the term ahead. 

One quote that will always stick with me that I've heard you say a lot is "Why be good when you can be outstanding" do you have any others?

I used to say "good isn't good enough" but one quote I didn't realise I said but others told me inspired them was "don't bow down to anyone; stand up for yourself" and I would agree that is true in your career and life.

So I know you saw the sign but how did you apply to get into teaching?

I was always just offered jobs by people I'd known or worked with but I always said no. I think everyone should have an equal chance for a job and go through the same interview process. I didn't believe in the system of people employing their friends or offering people they knew more money. All recruitment processes should be formal and fair.

You worked in the primary school I went to for years but left to go to another school once it became outstanding; why didn't you just stay if the school was doing well? 

I'd passed on my knowledge so I wasn't needed as much. I went somewhere for a bigger challenge; a school that was 3 times bigger and then during my time there increased to 5 times bigger.

Just to end then, what would be your advice for anyone looking for a long lasting career?

Enjoy living in the moment. Don't focus so much on outcomes and instead focus on what you are doing in the moment; that's the secret of success.

Desk and notepad 

My Thoughts

It was an interesting afternoon but I learnt a lot; I think what I took from interviewing my Dad is a long lasting career comes from passion and determination, the willingness to do better. So maybe you just need to find the right path first before you can make it long lasting.

I always knew I was very similar to my dad but the desire to be my own boss is something I never realised we had so closely linked. My dad's ambition to be "outstanding" really stuck with me and has gave me that motivation to have a long great career too.

Thanks to my dad for taking time out his schedule of detectoring to go through this interview and thanks for giving me the best career advice and the belief I could be whatever I wanted. 

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