“Business-y”

Terms and strategies within career development tend to feel very business-y”. The one page resume and “networking” just to name a couple. As an educator who has supported humanities, fine arts, and social science students with their career development over the past seven years, I find it difficult to connect with the mainstream terminology and approach that often dominates the landscape of career education. From my perspective, it takes changing perspective to better relate to, and understand, the career development process and all that it entails.

To begin, “business-y” terms feel more product-driven. In the business world, there tends to be a bottom line. Even though there are always people involved in any business, it seems the focus is on numbers, not names. This, I believe, has led to product-like hiring trends (one page resume, applicant tracking systems) and cold connectedness through competitive, passive, and getting ahead “networking”.

From a human services perspective, people are the focus. For those who are committed to this craft, any use of a product needs to have a direct correlation to the betterment of others. It isn’t about the bottom line; it is a focus on raising the bar of potential for others.  A person-first mentality can lead to hiring practices that focus on getting to truly know an individual through robust application materials and a willingness to connect directly without the use of applicant tracking systems. When it comes to networking, it does not become a means to an end to get ahead but centers on developing and building meaningful, genuine, and value-oriented relationships. It is active listening, not passive conversation. It is cooperation, not competition.

Overall, the key is to realize that there are a variety of approaches to anything you do in life and to decide on what you perceive to be the best approach for your unique values, interests, personality, skills and goals. If you prefer competition, networking, fast-paced environments, and a slew of other terms that tend to feel more “business-y”, there are certainly options for you. For those who don’t fit this mold, know that there are other ways to view this process. Solving societal problems instead of outperforming people can be your competition. Building genuine personal and professional relationships based on trust and cooperation can be your networking. Slowing down and taking the time to reflect can be your pace. There is a place in the career development process for being “human-y”.

Erik Simon
Arts and Letters Graduate Career Consultant (Center for Career Development – Graduate Career Services)

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