Whether you’re kicking off your job hunt or you’re already in the thick of it, a nagging voice may be at the back of your mind saying “is this even what I want to do?”
So, is it?
We don’t all land upon our dream careers on the first, second, even third tries. If you aren’t completely sold on your current line of work, you aren’t alone. Millions of people change careers every year, but how do you figure out what else you might be qualified to do? Those great mid-career transitions your friends have made are enviable, but how did they do it?
The key is to decide what you want to do. (Obviously easier said than done!) And not just a general industry that sounds fun/intriguing/engaging. You’ll need to narrow down a functional level within a specific industry. Within that exploration, you also need to determine how your skills will transfer into this new job category. There’s a lot of self-discovery to be accomplished here.
To break it down to its most basic elements, deciding what you want is a two part project. A career coach can help you get to the bottom of it, but you can also get yourself started. The first step is knowing what drives and motivates you. The second is accessing good information about your options.
Step One: Getting to Know Yourself
Before a career coach can help you nail down an appropriate path, they’d need to know more about you. Heading up your own journey starts with the same task: putting some objective parameters around YOU. Finding the career to align best with your personality, lifestyle, skills and values requires assessing all of the above. There are a variety of self-assessment tools online, including the ELEVATIONS Career Assessment, that can help you learn more about what you value most, and how to apply that to a job search. If you aren’t ready to dig into an assessment, try asking yourself a few of these introspective questions to get started. Remember, you’re the only one reading your answers, so be completely honest.
• What is your favorite part of your current work day?
• What is/are your favorite work-related duty/duties?
• What is/are most important to you in life outside of work?
• What do you most enjoy doing in your free time?
• What do you think your greatest skill is?
• What job or career have you always admired? (Anything goes here – even if you don’t have the experience/training/qualifications.)
• What type of environment do you work best in? (Supervised work, group tasks, self-driven projects, etc.)
• Which of your jobs has been your favorite so far, and why?
• Would you take a pay cut for a better work/life balance? For a happier work environment? For a better retirement plan?
Take an objective look at your answers individually and as a set. Do you see any common threads? Tying these introspective notes to a career path will take some time and thought, but knowing who and what you’re starting with will make narrowing down the options a much less treacherous activity.
Step Two: Assessing Your Options
Take a look at a career option list (for example, take a look at [elevations listing]). Do any marry up with the values and ideals listed in your “Getting to Know Yourself” responses? Take note of the top options that appeal to you, and whether or not they resonate with your responses. The options that do are your new career targets. To find out if the career target you have selected is available in your geographic area and if it offers the advancement and compensation you are seeking, you can peruse job posting boards (e.g., LinkedIn, Indeed), or set up informational interviews with the help of friends in those industries or networking contacts.
Keep in mind, a new career position may not place you at your previous level – in title or compensation. Some may require a more entry level start. Assess your job options against your introspective notes to ensure that a job, title, compensation package, and schedule will be a reasonable fit for your life.