Like any major life decision, deciding what you want to do (next) in your career can feel incredibly daunting. Whether you’re just entering the job market, considering a career change or simply stuck trying to decide between different job opportunities, there’s always that feeling of ‘what if I make the wrong decision?’, ‘what if there’s a better opportunity out there for me?’ and ‘where can I go for career change advice?’
While making career decisions may not be an easy task, it is definitely doable and unless you get serious about it those doubts will stay with you and can ultimately grind your career to a standstill. The following steps can help you get clarity on your options and make a career transition decision with confidence.
Finding work that you are passionate about is crucial to your happiness and success, so while answering the above question may seem like a task in itself, it’s absolutely crucial that you take the time to do it.
This is all about building your self-awareness so work on uncovering your strengths, skills, weaknesses, motivations, values and aspirations. Personality tests and career change counselling can help, but also look at your story to date: when were you most excited about going to work? What were you doing then? Don’t expect a definite answer to surface right away; instead, look out for patterns and focus on these.
Be clear on the options that are out there for you: read up about industries you’re interested in and check out job descriptions – what are the key requirements and day-to-day responsibilities? Go to job fairs; reach out to career coaching services; connect to people in your preferred role on LinkedIn or join industry-specific groups. Notice where your attention goes, but be realistic: do you have the skills and experience required? If there are gaps can you easily fill them?
A career change counsellor will provide individualized one-to-one discussions that deliver practical, professional career change guidance. Taking the time to discuss your options with a professional and build a career transition action plan is something you can do to give you the edge and point you in the right direction for your next career chapter.
The next step is to compare your list of options with your needs criteria. Most likely this will substantially reduce your list to just a few options. Dig a little deeper into these remaining few and try to get a feel for what’s involved in these jobs and whether you could see yourself doing them. To truly get the inside scoop you can try job shadowing, where you’ll follow around a professional as they go about their day at work and potential find a mentor who will offer further insights to your possible career transition. Volunteering can also be a great way to really test the waters in a certain role or industry.
You may come out of this process of elimination with several options left to choose from, or perhaps there’s only one that’s right or perhaps that one sounds right on paper, but you’re still not convinced. At this point it often comes down to a gut feeling. Ask yourself: does this decision feel right? Does it excite me? Can I see myself doing this? If your answer is yes to any of these questions, take a leap of faith and start researching specific employers to apply to.
Doubt is often a symptom of fear, so try to keep things in perspective. Many people think that one decision can set them on a course that they can’t change, but the opposite is true – you can always change your mind. If you do make the ‘wrong’ decision see it as a learning experience: knowing what you don’t want to do is just as useful in helping you make the ‘right’ decision.
Your career is a journey and you’re likely to stumble upon more than one crossroads as you go along. Be conscious and thoughtful about the direction you choose to take, do your research and remember, when in doubt, follow your gut.
If you’re interested in career change counselling or advice, Strategic Career Management can offer coaches that are passionate about inspiring their clients to have great careers that use their best strengths and meet their personal interests and values. Contact us to learn more.