Wondering what career might suit you? Know what you want but aren’t getting anywhere in your job search? Career Assessments, research and guided exercises in books haven’t helped; you’re stuck, and not sure what to do next.
When you’ve discovered the right path, your friends, co-workers, managers and clients will all make comments such as, “You seem really happy,” “You are really good at this kind of work,” and “Wow, you are lucky to have found something you like so much!”
The truth is, true career satisfaction requires careful thought and planning, not just luck.
WHY TYPICAL CAREER RESOURCES OFTEN DON’T WORK FOR CAREER EXPLORATION
If you’re feeling burnt out or uninspired by your current career, or unsure of what you want to do, the usual job-seeking approaches won’t work for you. Job posting websites and headhunters are good for moving you into your exact same job at
a new company, but not for thinking creatively about your background.
Many people also think that going back to school is a good way to discover new career interests. Although that may be true, school is a very expensive way to explore new interests.
You can take career tests and read career books for free; (some good ones are in our Career Resources area). From personal experience, however, I know it’s hard to take that information and know what to DO with it. While it is interesting to read about your personality, it doesn’t provide you enough detail about where your skillset is valuable in the marketplace.
HOW TO DETERMINE YOUR TRUE INTERESTS
There are thousands of jobs posted every day across the United States– what makes one or two of them perfect for you and the rest not quite right?
Well-thought-out career moves are oriented around what I call your Core Career Interests. To find your Core Career Interests, you need to determine what makes you as a person different from everyone else. Your career happiness depends on the intersection of a few factors: your workstyle preferences, your personal history and work experience, your interests and abilities, and the work environment you need in order to feel energized.
THE FOUR C’S
Based on my work helping many clients go through career changes, I’ve found that the definition of Core Career Interests involves the following factors, which I call the Four C’s: Cause, Content, Critical Factors, and Community.
If money were no object (and you still had to work), what’s important to you to accomplish with your life?
What’s the point of your work and the energy you spend every day? What result do you want your efforts to have on the world?
This doesn’t mean you have to give up your nice salary and benefits to work on solely altruistic projects, unless you really wanted to. For example, you could be motivated by sharing aesthetic beauty with others… or helping run a company that gives employment to lots of people… or advancing the cause of medical research… the list is infinite. What’s important is that YOU feel good about the work you’re doing, in addition to getting paid for it. A good career coach can help you find your Cause.
Content refers to the specific work activities that make up your day. In order to determine the ideal career path for yourself, you will need to identify what you like to do and what you are good at doing. These may be one and the same— but then again, you may really like singing and not be able to carry a tune!
To identify activities you enjoy, a career coach can help you think about both your professional and personal interests.
When you think about your previous jobs, what parts of them have you enjoyed so far? What new topics are you interested in learning more about? Are you a good strategic thinker, good listener, extremely good at putting projects together, an excellent communicator? The more you design your ideal career around your natural abilities, the more enjoyment and less friction you will feel in your day-to-day activities.
Unless you are looking for a career as a hermit, each possible career path exists within a community of peers and recipients. Put another way, you would ask yourself, “Whom do I want on my team as coworkers?” and “Whom do I want to serve through
First, a career coach can help you focus on the qualities of your ideal group of peers — what are their professions, and what are their personalities like? That way, if you are interested in finding peers who are both intellectuals and collaborative, and you are presented with an opportunity where the peers seem more competitive, you would know not to choose that opportunity.
Then, you can think about your recipient community — the people you’d like to help through your work. You’d work with a coach to explore who those people are, and how you’d like to help them. Do you like working with the public? Business to business? Individuals or large groups of people? Once we determine this, certain jobs will seem more or less appealing to you. For example, one client realized he hated his job (which was helping people primarily through email) because he really missed the face-to-face interaction.
In addition to the actual work activities you enjoy and the types of people with whom you’d like to work, a career coach can help you think about the other lifestyle-based concerns you have. These critical factors include such topics as work hours, work location, flexibility, travel, type of office, salary, benefits, etc.
For example, what does your ideal work environment look and feel like? What size company feels right for you? How can you balance work and home commitments?
Second, Find the Right Job: Putting it All Together
A career coach can help you synthesize your unique combination of skills and preferences into a target: what you’re looking to do next. After that, we help you start to research where your combination of experiences, skillsets and interests might bring the
most value in the marketplace.
However… you may be stuck in the job search:
Need resume or interviewing help?
Not sure how to sell yourself to employers?
Frustrated with online searches that lead you nowhere?
Not sure how to speak about your job history?
WHAT IF I TOLD YOU that it might not be as hard as you’re making it?
Wait a second, you say… I spend hours looking online; I’ve sent my resume to dozens (or hundreds) of jobs, and haven’t heard a single thing. I go on interviews but am not getting to the final round.
Of course, the first step is knowing what kind of work you’re looking for. If you aren’t clear, and your resume’s not targeted, then you can send 10,000 resumes, and you will likely not hear a peep. See our Career Resources section for more ideas on that front.
Let’s say, however, that you know what you want, but you are just not getting the results you want.
You can keep doing the same thing, and hope that it pays off eventually. (It might.)
You can create a Board of Advisors for yourself -an inner circle of friends and family- and ask for their honest feedback on your career possibilities, your resume, your personal style, or anything that you think may be hindering your search. (Free, but you may not like their advice, or they may not be informed.)
You can seek out professional networking organizations or headhunters (you’ve probably already done that).
Or, you can get guidance from someone who’s seen hundreds or thousands of job searches and can assess your resume, cover letter, interviewing answers, personal “presence”, job search strategy, LinkedIn profile, social media participation, networking activities, and countless other things that go into a successful search.
We’d love to hear from you. If you’re interested in exploring the idea of working with a coach, let us know by filling out the confidential Career Coach Finder form. We’ll personally review your answers and think through which coach might be a good match, and connect you for an exploratory call.
Kathy Robinson, Founder, TurningPoint