How do you choose your next career?

Have you ever thought, “I know my strengths and skills. I know what I love. But how does that translate to a job or career that will support me?” Maybe you’re asking that question right now.

When you are going through a career transition, it can often seem like you’re working on a puzzle with lots of pieces. Only you don’t have the box lid with the picture on it. And for fun someone mixed in some pieces to another puzzle that don’t belong. Your job is to sort it out, find the right pieces, and put it all together. While that can be fun if you’re a puzzle person, it can also feel very frustrating when it’s your life and career. And you can feel stuck.

I have felt that way, when I was making my own career transition, moving from one career that no longer suited me, and figuring out what career fit me now. I felt the pressure of needing to get it right, so I could be earning income again. I see my clients experience this feeling as they begin the journey of transition. It’s part of the process.

My mother describes it as the time where you can’t see the forest for the trees. I find this to be a helpful analogy, because in the forest, you have a path to follow. You may not know where it leads, but there’s a path. And you can keep moving. Keep taking steps.

So what are the steps you need to take to make a choice? Once you know your strengths, skills, and are clear on what you love to do, what next? There are 3 steps to take next to make the right choice. These steps take time and effort. But they will lead you out of the forest.

1. Brainstorm all the ideas for jobs and careers you’d love. Enlist the support of friends and family, and ask what they think. Then make a list. If you get stuck for ideas, www.onetonline.org is a great free resource to help. The key here is to stay open to possibilities. Now is not the time to rule things out. Now is the time for ideas and dreams.

2. Once you have a list, you need to research the jobs to find out what they are really like. This is where you want to do some informational interviews to find out. Ask your friends and family; ask your network; find out if they know someone who has the job you want to research.

3. At this point, you will have updated your list. You will have removed jobs that aren’t as great as you thought. And you may have learned about some new ones. So now you can do some research regarding what the jobs pay and what education is required. That will eliminate more items on your list. A few resources for this are www.onetonline.org and www.indeed.com/salary. Another resource to learn about what it really takes to transition to a specific career is www.fabjobs.com.

After doing this work, you will likely have a short list. And you will be ready to choose what you want to do next, what the best fit is for you now. Your puzzle will be largely completed. And you will be ready to move on to the very practical stage of creating a plan to get there from here.

When I reached this stage I felt excited and empowered. When my clients reach this stage, they become energized to move forward. They are confident about their choice.

What step can you take today toward finding the right next job or career for you?

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Client Stories

When I first met Lori, I was in a rut. Having spent 25 years in the same industry, I was bored, max’d out and didn't know what to do next.  I was pigeon-holed into an industry that I was not so fond of, and saw no way to get out.  I felt trapped. Lori understood my predicament, as she had seen it all before -- she was sympathetic, but resolute in knowing that she could help me find answers.  I took great solace in that! 

Through several sessions and dozens of exercises, I began to get a clearer picture of who I am, and where my strengths and talents truly lie.  Working with Lori, I was able to translate that understanding into updated, targeted resumes that quickly produced interviews and gave me the confidence to express myself better than ever before. 

Consulting a Career Coach should be mandatory for anyone in today's work force, and Lori is the best at her profession.

Robert J. Norris, Warrenville, IL