I was speaking to someone recently who has spent the last five years in a job that they really don’t enjoy purely because they had no idea of what they really want to do. So here are five steps to figuring out the right career path:
- Be open to new ideas – you need to be prepared to open up if you are to start exploring your career options. Brainstorm ideas without analyzing and being self critical. If you aren’t open to new ideas, then you cannot begin to see if your skill set is a match.
- Take time to dream about what some of the things you would really like to do. Let your mind wander over some of the things you have enjoyed doing in the past, what are some of the things you have done out with work that you have got a buzz from?
This is a process which shouldn’t be taken too seriously otherwise you will stifle your creativity.
- Bring in reality – what are the constraints (mortgage, lack of required skills, not able to return to full time education) with some of the ideas you came up with in the brainstorming. These will all be personal to you and need to be taken into consideration. If you really cannot find a way round the constraints then you will have to cross that career idea off your list. What experience and skills do you have that makes some of your ideas more of a possibility for you?
- Review where you can add value i.e. what are your transferable skills and what have you achieved from using them in the past. Do any patterns emerge? If so you can start to see where you can use these skills to add value in future positions. Now you can start to do some research into the type of jobs where these skills are required.
- Research – Once you have a shortlist of potential career options, you need to tighten your research to increase your understanding of just what is involved in these positions. Speak to people who currently do this type of work and if you don’t know of anyone, see who you can find to connect with on LinkedIn and start a discussion with them or an industry relevant group .
This is also a process that should not be rushed. We spend such a large amount of our waking life working that it should be given the time for proper consideration. Trying to figure out just what it is you want to do can be extremely frustrating, unless you are one of the lucky few to have that “aha” moment where it all suddenly falls into place!
Don’t do this in isolation, get friends, family and people in your network to help you and given how tough it is to get a job these days, you may also want to seek professional help.
And, most importantly, believe in yourself and your skills!