Choosing the right career eludes some of us right up until retirement. Be one of the lucky ones who have truly found their calling. The following tips from Bayt.com should help.
Franklin D Roosevelt once said “It is common sense to take a method and try it. If it fails, admit it frankly and try another. But above all, try something.” Thankfully, we live in trial-and-error times where growth and change are expected and employers have learned to tolerate if not wholeheartedly appreciate and welcome the diversity in background and skills that come from career changers.
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In lieu of life-long job and career stability, many of today’s professionals espouse a career trajectory that is open to responding to new challenges and opportunities as they arise. These may be motivated by entirely extraneous factors such as economic restructuring, downsizing, upsizing, the emergence of lucrative new industry sectors or motivated by changes in personal situation which could include age, changes to marital or family status, geographical preferences, new life demands, desire for better work/life balance etc.
Whatever the motivation, career change is no longer the frowned-upon sole recourse of the unemployed but a common turn of events and one that is expected to become more so as economies restructure at an ever more accelerated pace, information about alternate career paths flows ever more freely, work/life balance becomes an increasingly hot topic, and a booming global economy means opportunities abound.
An online poll run by Bayt.com covering over 1,420 professionals that enquired how often candidates have changed career paths in their life saw the majority of respondents have changed careers at least once and many had changed careers two times or more.
So how in such times of flux and opportunity and in light of the vast amount of choice out there do you determine the right career for you? Below the career experts at Bayt.com list some pointers to guide you:
1. Read the current literature on career change. Investigate the whys, how-tos and whens. Books such as What Colour is Your Parachute are a great way to start the self-exploration process.
2. Ask yourself what you would do if money was not imperative. What would you do if you had a year away from work or if you could emulate someone who in your opinion has a dream job? Would you write poetry, run a global corporation, compete in athletics, design world-class architectural projects, publish literature, start your own little business, work with children, with the elderly, teach, heal, perform?
3. Ask yourself what tasks you like to immerse yourself in. Do you prefer the analytical aspects of your current (or past) job, the administrative aspects, the leadership aspects, the coaching aspects, problem-solving aspects, decision-making in teams, writing, designing, co-ordinating, managing, creating, trouble-shooting etc. Where do you find yourself happiest and most comfortable?
4. Make a list of things you don’t like.
5. Be honest with yourself. Be creative and dare to dream as you think of what you would really like to do. The dreaming stage is not the time to focus – allow yourself to really explore all avenues of interest and be curious about new paths and possibilities.
6. Determine what your priorities are. How important is work-life balance to you versus career growth or financial stability? How important is leisure versus work versus learning for you? Are you willing to put one or two on hold while you pursue a third or is your ideal life plan a blended one that includes the three? Are you content with financial stability or are you interested in huge financial gain? Are you interested in a job or a career? Is prestige and social status critical to you and how much of these does your career, past and potential, afford you?
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7. Determine your real values. Ask what career satisfies and is consistent with those. Albert Einstein’s advice on this front was: “Try not to become a man of success but rather try to become a man of value.”
8. Take self-assessment tests. These tests will help you even more deeply understand what it is that motivates, drives and inspires you.
9. Research alternate career paths. Look at growth potential, job profiles, pay, benefits, mobility, work/life balance and all other issues that will determine your longevity in the career.
10. Obtain the maximum amount of information about careers you like. Read industry blogs and websites, talk to people in the field, subscribe to industry journals and newsletters and leave no stone unturned as you familiarize yourself with the potential new territory.
11. Map your personal inventory of skills.
12. Analyse factors that impede your career mobility. These may be geographical mobility issues, financial limitations, family considerations, or education/ training issues. Look at occupational and non-occupational barriers to career entry and determine realistically how you can/will overcome those.
13. Let your natural instincts guide the way. Many of us in today’s number-crunching world have learned to quell those very essential natural instincts that propel us towards leadership, happiness and success.
14. Don’t be swayed by external pressures. Often family, friends and society place undue pressure on a person to conform to or follow a certain career path. Pablo Picasso once said “My mother said to me, "If you become a soldier, you'll be a general; if you become a monk, you'll end up as the Pope." Instead, I became a painter and wound up as Picasso.””
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15. Don’t let financial considerations alone guide you. Unless of course you have determined that financial gain in itself (with all its glories and trappings) is your overriding value, interest and goal in life. Oftentimes, short-term financial losses can be compensated for by the fact that you will eventually prosper most and acquire the most depth and skill in the field that most interests you.
16. Believe in yourself. Have faith and be bold and brave as you follow your aspirations. Don’t let negative self-perceptions and external diatribes detract you from your true calling. After the homework, the reading, the research, the introspection, soul-searching, networking and analysis, close your eyes and find the person you always wanted to be.
This article originally appeared in Bayt.com. This article and all other intellectual property on Bayt.com is the property of Bayt.com. Reproduction of this article in any form is only permissible with written permission from Bayt.com.