The Job Search Equivalent of Feng-Shui

Last year, I took a class in "Value Stream Mapping," which is a technique used to analyze the flow of information and materials required to bring a product or service to a consumer. Initially developed by Toyota, Value Stream Mapping is a "lean" manufacturing technique which is now used in manufacturing and other sectors, including product development. Think of it as the Feng Shui for the business world.

My favorite Value Stream Mapping term is Poka-yoke (pronounced "POH-kah YOH-keh"). This is a Japanese term that means "fail-safing" or "mistake-proofing." The idea is that you can avoid inadvertent errors if you set limits on how an operation can be performed in order to force the correct outcome. In cars, examples of poka-yoke engineering include features that make it difficult for us to lock our keys in the car with the ignition running.

I'd love to say I could Poka-yoke your job search completely. But I can't. That being said, I'm a big advocate of research and of the concept of "test driving" your ideas for future career opportunities. The more you know, the more you can reduce the likelihood that you'll make the wrong move.

Here are a few resources that will allow you to explore your interests without commitment:

If you're only seeking a temporary escape you can try a brief stint as a rock star, an elephant trainer, or a Roman gladiator. Travel and Leisure Magazine has a feature on the "World's Quirkiest Adult Camps":


VocationVacations offers clients the opportunity to spend between one and three days test-driving a dream career (opportunities range from alpaca rancher and comedy club owner to chocolatier and cheesemonger).

Naturally, these trips come with a cost.

Cheaper alternatives include the more mundane jaunt to your local Barnes and Noble or public library. I also highly recommend the "Library Vacation" as recommended by "Ask the Headhunter" Nick Corcodilos: http://www.asktheheadhunter.com/halibrary.htm

Alternatively, if you're not afraid to ask--consider requesting a private "job shadowing" experience with someone who works in a field of interest to you--or live vicariously.

Sean Aiken, a recent college grad from Vancouver, has spent a year trying out new careers each week and he's sharing his observations with the world: http://www.oneweekjob.com/

Happy hunting,

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