Maybe you’re at the beginning of your career. Maybe you’ve been laid off and are ready to start anew. Or maybe you’re just looking for a change. There are plenty of reasons why you might, at this very moment, find yourself facing the daunting task of deciding which job is right for you.
While considering which career path to pursue can be one of the toughest decisions we face, it’s slightly less so when you understand that most people exploring a new career path typically go through three phases.
Phase one — Exploration. This time is all about getting clear on what you want to do with your life … and how you want work to support that. We can feel especially frustrated during this phase, because we just don’t know the answer and, being humans, we’re naturally unsettled by uncertainty. One way to approach this phase is to turn it around and treat it like an adventure. It helps to take the time to consider:
- What kind of life do you want?
- How much money do you need to support that life?
- How much risk sets you up to play at your edge, without creating so much stress that you won’t be able to enjoy your life?
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- What kind of flexibility do you need and what work environment would suit you best?
- What would you like to be doing or be responsible for?
This isn’t about being realistic. This is about allowing yourself to get clear on what you really want to experience. Look at this as your opportunity to open yourself up to possibilities.
Phase two — Research. Once you start to get a sense of what you want, you can begin to research the state of your current reality … and how you might approach achieving your ideal next career move. This phase can bring the relief that comes with knowing where you want to be, but you still need to deal with the unknown of how to get there.
To help you through this phase:
- Check out how jobs are trending in terms of salary, openings, and reported job satisfaction. Glassdoor recently shared their findings on the 50 Best Jobs in America. This is an excellent place to start gauging possibilities.
- Reach out to people who are currently working in the field you’re interested in. Asking for a short phone call to discuss their experiences is a great way to get started. Hit up people you already know and later expand into those you find via LinkedIn.
- Increase your opportunities to meet people working in the career sector you’re looking to break into by signing up for courses and attending conferences.
Phase three — Action. Now that you’ve started to nail down what it’s going to take to move towards your career choice, it’s time to take action. You’re probably feeling pretty good about things now, since you finally have a sense of what you want and how to get there. But this is also the highest risk phase. Solution: Get some skin in the game.
To help you take on this final phase, consider:
- Invest in the schooling and experiences you need to be successful. Don’t be surprised if this takes more time than you want to devote. But if we’re truly talking about your next career move, you need to do everything you can to set yourself up to excel.
- Ensure your resume aligns with the jobs you are applying for vs. simply reflecting your basic work history. It’s worth it to get some help crafting a resume that highlights your relevant skills and experiences. Oftentimes, we find we have more transferable skills than we first assumed, and partnering with a professional resume writer can ensure you stand out.
- Pull the trigger. If it makes sense for you to make your next career move at your current employer, reach out to your manager and discuss your goals and aspirations. If it doesn’t, apply to new jobs that match your criteria. This may seem like obvious advice, but often the fear of rejection keeps us from making the necessary moves to pursue our dreams.
Regardless of which phase you are in, don’t make the mistake of assuming you have to take the first job that’s offered to you. With some effort, investment, research, and risk-taking, you can get yourself into the career of your dreams.