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

I hired Lori because I was feeling stuck in my job and needed to find a career that was more rewarding, more challenging, and more suited to me.  In the arts, it's difficult to find a job you enjoy that also pays enough to live on, but Lori helped me do just that! 

As we worked together, Lori always helped give me that extra nudge when I was having trouble taking the next step toward success and acknowledged and applauded me when I accomplished something that I'd been struggling with. 

Thanks to Lori, I got out of my 8-year rut at the same job and discovered a new career I love that brings me all of the things I want in a job--creativity, variety, challenge, learning, flexibility, teamwork, and cake.  With no professional experience but a desire to learn, Lori helped me find ways to become a cake decorator--first on my own and then, eventually, at a reputable cake shop.  Now, something I used to do just for fun has become something I make my living doing, and each workday flies by!

Emily Sweeney, Chicago, IL