The simple act of flipping through the calendar can provide motivation to take stock of your life. For some it is flipping the calendar at the beginning of the year, for others it is when you flip the calendar for a significant birthday or a work anniversary.

My first client in 2020 came with two pending calendar flips in mind – ‘I’m turning 50 this year and I’ve been too long in the same job. I need to make a major career change to enjoy the next 15 years at work’.

It can feel daunting, but you won’t be alone in actively seeking a career change. In the Productivity Commission series of reports on technology and future of work they state that about ½ a million people change jobs every year in New Zealand (20% of the workforce), and of these, more than half change industry.

There are a number of concerns and needs to work through. A key one is understanding the transferability of experience, skills and achievements to different roles and workplaces. This takes a combination of activities to reflect on an individual’s strengths and to explore what is possible, and ultimately take the leap to test the job market by applying for the positions that generate some excitement or ‘pull’ factor.

Another key concern is age and life circumstance. Recent research by Professor David Blanchflower, with an interview on RNZ,  uses a U-shaped happiness curve to describe the possible reasons we hit a happiness low at age 47. Circumstances differ greatly for each person – the labour market they are in, the employment history they have, whether they are partnered or single, their care-giving responsibilities (of all ages), and what financial assets they have. And most importantly, what is meaningful to them and gives them fulfilment in life. If you’re concerned about job seeking as an ‘older worker’ you might find the Stats NZ report on Workers Aged 55+ helpful.


If flipping of the calendar triggers a sense of disquiet, think about what support you need to reflect and reset your goals. Here’s an activity that might help.

Life Visioning Activity

Allow yourself 20 minutes of quiet time to ponder and write your answers to these questions below. Really let your imagination flow – don’t analyse as you go, just put pen to paper and see what happens. Your answers should provide clues for what you need to change to realise this life vision.

Imagine you are happy and healthy and 80 years old. You’re sitting in your favourite chair in your favourite place and looking back over your ideal life.

  • Who are you as a person? What is it about you that people value?
  • What have you achieved? What are you proud of?
  • What has added meaning to your life and gives you a sense of fulfilment?
  • How have areas of your life unfolded?
    • Relationships (significant other, family, friends, community)
    • Career (paid and unpaid work and learning)
    • Health (physical, emotional, spiritual)
    • Fun and leisure
  • Finally, from this chair at age 80 what can you see and hear around you right now that makes you truly happy?

It’s never too late to make changes in areas of your life. You can find a lot of information and tools online, talk to people you know and trust, and seek out the specialists who can help. If you want to know more about support for making a career change contact The Career Development Company.

Julie Thomas is an Executive Director of The Career Development Company.


One of the keys to understanding yourself better (an essential part in making good decisions for yourself), is to understand more about your personality. There are a number of different theories and tools around, but one that I have found incredibly useful, and user friendly, is Personality Type, based on the work of Carl Jung (1875 – 1961).

Understanding preferences

As part of my career work with individuals, I help them to understand their personality preferences, which enables them to gain an insight into the work environment that supports them to be who they are, the interactions they prefer to have with people, and the types of activities they find engaging. The options that are considered can then be evaluated in terms of what will work best for that individual.

A popular inventory that is used to find out an individual’s personality preference is the Myers Briggs Type Indicator® (MBTI®) which was developed by Katharine Briggs and her daughter Isabel Myers.

Working together

 I have recently had the privilege of running team workshops on personality type, within organisations. Running workshops with a team has many advantages. Not only does each individual gain an insight into their own working style, communication, decision making, leadership and problem-solving preferences, but also gains an insight into how team mates prefer to be, and from that, develops an appreciation of the richness of working together.

Take care when interpreting results

One thing that I always raise with both individuals and groups, is the importance of taking the relevant and useful information from any assessment that they complete, and separating this from what isn’t relevant. I get very concerned when I hear situations where the results of an assessment have been used as the sole factor to make a decision, such as in some recruitment decisions. Information derived from these assessments should be used in conjunction with information from other sources, and if discrepant information is gained, it signals further investigation may be required. Great care should be taken to not place undue weight on assessment findings or predict performance in another setting. Practitioners should also be competent and appropriately trained to use the assessment with a client.

The outcomes from assessments can add insight and result in the development of useful strategies to make decisions and work effectively. And they can also be used in unsafe and harmful ways if not administered and interpreted correctly.

Important questions

If you are wanting to complete an individual assessment, or organise a workshop for your team, there are some questions I encourage you to ask:

  1. Is the assessment structured and standardised, with validity (the degree to which evidence and theory support the interpretations and relevance of assessment results in the proposed use of the assessment), and reliability (the consistency of measurements obtained on an assessment when the assessment procedure is repeated on a population of individuals or groups).
  2. Is the practitioner qualified to administer and interpret the assessment?
  3. What is their experience with this assessment?
  4. Do they adhere to a Code of Ethics?

Contact  Caroline  ( if you would like to know more about Personality Type and how it could be of value to you.

Caroline Sandford is an Executive Director at The Career Development Company

Who am I?

As we are confronted with pandemics, natural disasters, mass-migration, constant system change, technological and political developments, shifts in workplace expectations (“Should I be a specialist? A generalist? Or the new specialist-generalist?”), impacts of business liquidations, mergers, restructuring and retrenching; our understanding of who we are becomes more complex. Furthermore, what happens when people doubt their career decisions, or just want a change, or are faced with losing their job, their role or business, which has formed a major part of their identity? “Who am I if I am no longer a …?”. For some, considering this question might feel like an ideal opportunity to reinvent themselves, while others might be totally at a loss for what comes next. Either way, they’ve got to know who they are to figure out where they’re going… or, indeed, who they could become.

Last year I attended a children’s birthday party where the mother had cleverly (and perhaps bravely) created a warm-up game based on the popular “Who Am I?” game. It is essentially a guessing game where players use yes or no questions to guess the identity of a famous person. The children all lined up to receive their party hat with the name of a friend placed on it. Each child had to ask questions of the others to be able to identify the person on their hat. The one rule was that they weren’t to ask any questions related to physical appearance. Quite challenging, I thought, for eight-year-olds but what struck me was how quickly the children were able to determine ‘who they were’, by using some pretty sophisticated questioning related to traits, quirks, and preferences.

Career journeys unfold

How simple life would be if we could just put our name on a hat and get others to work out who we are! As I consider this as a career practitioner looking back on my own career journey unfurling, I realise there were key moments where I too questioned my identity: as a young person finding my way through those awkward years as a teenager coupled with a complicated upbringing; as a student teacher finding my own voice; as a new-New Zealander proving my worth as a teacher in a new country, and later, as I went through my own career pivot, as I left teaching and reflected on “if I am not a teacher, then who am I?” Although my career identity as a teacher was very much part of who I understood myself to be, it was an exciting shift into the world of industry training. Further on, as a new mother I questioned how I balance family and career. More questions surfaced as I left the relative security of full-time employment for the precarious world of contracting while undertaking post-graduate study; and then finally into private practice, and now as one of the founding Executive Directors of The Career Development Company.

Recurring themes

A key theme weaving through my own journey is change. Not necessarily change in who I am innately, but rather an awareness of who I am as I respond within those dynamic contexts. Ultimately, we all learn more about ourselves as we experience change – sometimes this learning is subliminal rather than overt; and it is often only when this is reflected back to us through dialogue, that we can better understand who we are and who we could become. Dialogue helps challenge our assumptions, concepts and identities (of career and self), and requires us to feel, observe, talk about and reflect on our experiences and in-so-doing reframe our experiences so we can navigate career more responsively and meaningfully.

Career conversations matter

Helping others navigate change is what drives me. After many hours of career coaching and counseling, my approach, and indeed the approach of my colleagues at The Career Development Company, is constructivist and dialogical. Having those honest, challenging conversations within a carefully constructed framework helps clients to reflect first and foremost on the ‘Who am I …’, so that they can explore possibilities, and create and activate meaningful strategies in times of change.


Amanda Smidt is an Executive Director at The Career Development Company

You can find us at or e-mail us: to talk more about how we support individuals and organisations to navigate career.



What does decluttering have in common with Supervision? Here’s my take on it. Now is the time of year when the festive season is rushing up on us and it prompts us to reflect on key events of the year just gone and hopes for the new year ahead. For me it’s also been the time for decluttering my home office. That activity led me to think about reflective career practice.

Decision time

If you’ve undertaken study recently you’ll recognise the symptoms even if you’re committed to the paperless office concept: books piling up on the desk and shelves, stacks of printed articles that might come in handy, random notes scribbled in aha moments, and pens you didn’t throw out in case they might still work…and the list goes on. After six years of accumulation and my PhD completed, I felt ready to clear the space. The first stage of the mission is now accomplished-and with it a sense of major satisfaction!

What I noticed was that tidying, sorting (e.g., repurposing the back of old journal articles as notepaper) and throwing out and letting go unnecessary stuff left me feeling uplifted and ready to think about what’s ahead. I even had room to let some new things into the space.

Reflecting and reframing

And when I reflect on my office declutter, I see how Supervision is a form of decluttering that we undergo each time we supervise and are supervised; a process of orderly reflecting and reframing, and especially for the supervisee, clearing away unhelpful “stuff” to make way for the “new”. The big difference was that in my office declutter I didn’t have a trusted person giving me undivided attention and supporting me to make informed decisions as I agonised over the choice of “bin?” or “keep?” for the scraps of paper, dog-eared folders or near-empty pens taking up valuable space in my work environment. In addition, Supervision isn’t something you’d do just once every six years!

This year, as a newly formed for-profit social enterprise, The Career Development Company (The CDC) implemented Peer Supervision for us as a team and provision of Professional Supervision to facilitate learning and support useful reflection for career practitioners. We’ve experienced those supervision modes in our previous practices and it made sense to have both in our new venture, especially with our team member Julie having completed a Level 7 Professional Supervision and Workplace Coaching qualification.

Supervision process

In our monthly Peer Supervision sessions, which allow each team member to share themes/issues or incidents in an allocated time, we follow a process outlined by our colleague Robyn Bailey in her workshops for CDANZ:

  • Allocate roles – Facilitator – Timekeeper – Respectful of rules and uninterrupted space • Allocate the time • Check-in • Decide the focus for the session • Share time equally • Listen well • Discuss – Identify the issue – Focus on the future – Identify strengths, resources, exception – Constraints, obstacles, barriers – Feedback – What now • Summarise • End the session

Similar to my office decluttering, the Peer Supervision session leaves me feeling uplifted and ready to focus on the next step. If you are seeking support to get started with your peer supervision or need to refresh your approach, let The CDC team know. We also offer a free, confidential consultation to discuss your Professional Supervision needs. Check us out on and email us:

Dr Val O’Reilly is an Executive Director at The Career Development Company.

What is going to be different about 2020?
Are you new to having career conversations with staff or experienced and wanting to refresh your approach?

The longer summer days and varying pace of life over the festive season are ideal for gaining perspective on your own career, as well as your manager role and how best to support the career journey of your staff.  

Speaking from 20 years of management experience, the demands of manager roles are wide ranging, the tasks can seem endless, and there are times when balancing the needs of the organisation with those of the employee can feel near impossible.

The good news is that there are myriad excellent development options for managers at all levels, including the essential skill of coaching. But the less favourable news is that for many managers the pressure is on coaching for performance of essential tasks in the shorter term rather than on coaching for the long-term goals and needs of the employee and organisation.

It was with this in mind that The Career Development Company has developed a programme to help equip managers with the skills and knowledge needed to have effective career conversations in the workplace. There is strong evidence that these conversations are one of the most important factors in building, motivating and developing highly skilled and committed employees. For example, in the 2015  Right Management Global Career Conversation Study , 4,402 respondents from 15 countries including New Zealand, responded to the question ‘If career conversations were more regular?’ with:

  • I would be more engaged with the work that I do – 82%
  • I would be more likely to share my ideas – 78%
  • I would be more likely to look for opportunities for career growth at my current employer -76%
  • I would be more likely to stay with my current employer – 75%
Tips for leading effective career conversations

I recently ran workshops with divisional groups of managers in a large government organisation where the following tips were applied. Although the value of career conversations was already accepted at this organisation, the challenge is to continue to improve the systems that support career conversations and to learn a simple framework for consistent practice.

Tip 1: Reflect on existing practices

Take some time to reflect on the processes that support career conversations in your organisation, and to reflect on your own recent career conversations. What is working well? What are the areas for improvement? What and who might help you make these improvements?

Tip 2: Have a structure for your conversations

You may already have a structure you use. Here’s a snapshot of The Career Development Company framework to compare or consider using:

  • Prepare well then start well – find a time that works for both of you, set expectations about both coming well prepared. Start in a welcoming way, outline the process and agree on the focus of the meeting.
  • Reflect on who they are – support each person to manage and develop their own career by asking questions that help them to reflect on who they are to better understand themselves.
  • Explore possibilities – help them examine ideas about possible future directions within the organisation, and outside the organisation if internal opportunities are limited.
  • Create strategies and implement action – discuss how they might develop their skills and capabilities, and encourage them to set career goals and develop an action plan. Provide ongoing support with implementing their plan. You may agree to offer specialist support such as external career coaching.
Tip 3: Update your own development plan

Effective career conversations contribute to improved staff engagement and retention. If you have identified learning needs from reading this Blog, you may like to add these to your development plan as a manager.

Contact The CDC ( to discuss how we can assist you and your organisation to thrive.


Julie Thomas is an Executive Director at The Career Development Company.

“…a series of informative and supportive seminars designed to assist students, families and schools in their career journey.”

Careers Expo

Just announced…we’re volunteering our time and expertise at this year’s Careers Expo. Watch for updates in the coming weeks about the seminars we’ll be presenting and read articles from us in the next JETmag.


The Expo has joined with The Career Development Company to bring a series of informative and supportive seminars designed to assist students, families and schools in their career journey.