If you are looking for a career change or you’re in between jobs and don’t know what to do next, here are 4 practical steps you must take to make the right decisions to find the career you’ll love.
1. What do you enjoy doing?
Imagine leaping out of bed in the morning and looking forward to everything you’ll be doing at work today. List everything that excites you and gives you energy.
Imagine dragging yourself out of bed in the morning because of what you will be doing at work today. List your energy drainers.
Identify what you enjoy doing and be honest with yourself about how skilled you are in each area. If you are highly competent in something you love then it will be easy for your to market that skill, if you are lacking competency in something you love, are you willing to upgrade your skills through extra study or work experience?
You will find a career you love and be happiest in roles that will give you abundant opportunities to perform those activities that inspire you. Of course every role will have some responsibilities that won’t make you leap for joy, however roles that provide 80% or more opportunities to do what you love will give you an extra push to leap out of bed in the mornings!
2. What Values drive you?
Many clients I have worked with were not aware of their core values and consequently couldn’t put their finger on what was missing in their careers and personal lives.
What’s important to you in your personal and professional life? Could it be reward and recognition, financial independence, affiliation, work/life balance, friendships, belonging, acquisition of knowledge, independence, teamwork, technical/functional competence, leadership or dedication to a cause or service? Or is there something else that is really important to you? Assess your values to ensure you make the right choices.
All values are important however there are some that will be more important depending on different stages in your life. You need a role that aligns with your current values. You need to work in an organization that respects your values for true satisfaction.
One of my past clients had a very successful career in a global financial services organisation and her compensation package more than made up for the long hours she was required to work and the late night conference calls she was required to attend plus the frequent overseas travel. This satisfied her until she and her husband started a family.
With this change in her personal life, her values changed. The role was no longer satisfying in the way it used to be. Her top values of recognition and advancement changed to family and work/life balance.
It took some skilful negotiation and realignment of her role to create a win-win situation for both her and her employer at that stage in her life and career. What stage are you in now?
3. Research industries and organizations that inspire you
Once you have identified your preferred skills, your level of competency and your personal and career values, conduct research to find out which industries and organizations within those industries that may be a good match.
Use the Internet, library or professional association for your initial research and then talk to people within your network who may be able to guide you especially if they work in an area that interests you.
If you don’t know people who can provide in depth guidance, ask for a recommendation to someone who can or consider a career coach who will be able to assist.
Think about the ‘Can Do’, ‘Will Do’ and ‘Best Fit’ scenarios. You want to find a role that you ‘Can Do’ well with your level of skills, knowledge and competencies as well as one that fits in with the ‘Will Do’ personal preferences regarding the way you are willing to work – hours per week, length of commute, etc., and the ‘Best Fit’ for you regarding your personality, values and corporate culture.
Through your research you may find that you need additional qualifications or skills in order to perform successfully in a role you have identified.
Whether it is an MBA , a Certificate IV or simply a driving licence, are you willing to take the time and effort to gain those qualifications or skills?
If the answer is yes then take the next step towards your desired role. If the answer is no then continue your exploration and research through your network or with your coach to discover the right role with the right company that will value and benefit from the existing skills and knowledge you love to use.
These 4 tips will set you on your way. Do you need more clarity to make the right decisions?