To find work you love, leave your comfort zone
I know more people living for Friday instead of Monday! Simply put, they are not satisfied with their career, and chances are they will stay in this situation due to the fear of change. The average person spends 90,360 hours working over a lifetime – this should be proof enough that we need to be passionate about our career choices and invest in finding the best fit. So, where do we begin?
3 Important things to know when choosing a career
As a career advisor, my clients give me a general idea of what path they want to follow. The caveat is that they have arrived at this conclusion based on their ‘perception’ of what that career has to offer. Therefore, I am passionate about the ‘career exploration’ process. Career paths are not linear, and the new reality is that you may have multiple jobs (aka gig economy) at any given time. Doing so also allows you to fulfill your various interests.
Engage in self-assessment
Let’s begin by exploring the first thing you must be aware of – how well do you know yourself? What do you value? Which skills do you enjoy using the most? What interests you? Would you consider your personality type as introverted or extroverted? There are several online exercises that can give you the answers to these questions. Once you have done this, it will become clear which careers are the best match for you.
Another great exercise to consider is the ‘Lifeline’. List all of your previous jobs (paid/unpaid), beginning with your first and write down the likes and dislikes of each job, and be honest with yourself – see if there are any patterns emerging. For instance, you may notice that you disliked jobs where you were working in teams, so, it’s better for you to work independently. Statistics show that over 80% of people are unhappy with their careers, and chances are it is because their career doesn’t align with their interests, values and personality.
Explore with an open mind
The next thing to do is research potential careers you may be interested in. When you read the career description, can you picture yourself there? Is there a demand for this career? If not, then you need to be realistic if this should be your primary source of income.
For example, you may enjoy yoga and believe you’d be a great instructor. You can go to the top job sites and search for ‘yoga instructors’ and see what’s available. Look at the 10-year outlook for instructors to see if demand will increase, stay the same or decrease. Even if there is no demand, this doesn’t mean you cannot teach yoga on the side, just don’t depend on it for financial gain.
Another common assumption is that if you enjoy something for leisure, you will enjoy it as a career. This is not always true – speak to a yoga instructor and ask them about a day in their professional life, as well as the pros and cons of their career choice.
If your general interest is in a specific area (e.g. health and wellness), explore related careers – you never know what you may discover, such as becoming a health and wellness advisor or a health and safety inspector. It’s also important to be realistic, as the more you know, the easier it is to take the next step. Also, if you don’t plan to go back to school, then the choice is simpler – you need to explore the careers where your current transferable skills can be used.
Decide on a career path and make a plan
Now that you have selected a few careers to explore, create a plan and speak to professionals already working in the field. This could also be done through LinkedIn by simply searching for professional groups in the same industry or finding people that have experience.
Informational interviewing is a great way to get the answers you want, so you can make a decision about going down this route. The bonus is that you have already started networking with people in the industry, who will serve as valuable connections when you begin looking for career opportunities, so build on this network!
It’s important to identify whether there are any further skills, certifications, or education you may require, and work this into a planned timeline. Almost all learning can now be completed online, which is great if you work full-time.
Lastly, build your new resume, highlighting the transferable and new skills required in your new career, along with a cover letter sharing how your past experiences and skills are a great match, and explain why you have chosen this field. How you market yourself both online and offline are equally important – many candidates have so much to offer to an employer, but have no idea how to market themselves on paper nor on LinkedIn – there are several online resources that can help you do this.
I would like to leave you with some simple advice – pay attention to your experiences as it is through these that we truly understand what we need to be happy. Life is too short to have a career without purpose!
This article was written by Devi Sharma, Certified Career Development Professional and Career Development Specialist at University Canada West (UCW), Vancouver, BC.
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