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Here’s How to Discover Your Next Career Path


Deciding on your next career path and how to switch careers


Considering a career change can be both exhilarating and nauseating - especially if you're switching to a completely new field. Don't worry - those feelings are totally normal.


No matter the root cause or motivation for considering a change- burnout, stress, bad leadership, wanting to grow or learn a new area or to follow your passion, I’m here to say: Enjoy the journey. 


Here are some specific steps you can take to begin to explore your options and decide what your next career path may be.


Start With Self-Reflection

Many individuals I coach are not comfortable with intentional "alone time." But, I have to tell you, my most successful career clients are those that commit the time to self-reflect multiple times a week. 


Get Started:

Grab a notebook, journal, or notes app and try to answer these four questions:


  • When was the last time you had a "great" day?  What were you doing?  Who were you with?

  • What stresses you out? Which projects or people push your buttons?

  • What do you stand for?  What are your values?

  • What do people come to you for? What are you known for being good at?



Here's an example:

If you are always the friend organizing events and checking in with people, perhaps this is insight into your ability to organize and coach others. Once you know that, consider roles that allow you to use those abilities.


Self-reflection will give you a baseline for what you're good at, what you want to do, and where you can combine the two.



Research

Good research will give you a stronger network and make you a more appealing candidate. To begin your research, you'll need to get a read on the job market you're trying to enter.


Start small - utilize local resources, such as Chambers of Commerce and trade journals, to begin to make a list of organizations with whom you feel a connection. Create a short list of organizations that stand out to you.


Here's what that short list should include:
  1. The names of 5-10 companies or organizations you'd be interested in working for.

  2. A couple roles within those organizations you'd like to target.

  3. A brief description of what stands out to you about that company.


Then, use LinkedIn to find people within these organizations that have roles similar to the ones you're interested in. You could also look for organizations you have personal connections to. Reach out and begin to ask for an informational interview.


The more people you speak with, the more information you will obtain to help you get one step closer to your next job.


A strong research strategy will keep you attuned to the job market you're targeting and the professionals you can network with.


Assessments

Exploring a new career is like trying to buy a car or a house. You need good data to make an informed decision. To get more data on your strengths and interests, try taking some personal assessments.


One great (and free) resource is O*Net Online. They have two great resources that I HIGHLY recommend.


Interest Profiler

The interest profiler takes you through 60 questions, gauging what job responsibilities you'd enjoy. At the end, it gives you a list of potential careers for you to learn more about. Try it out and maybe you'll find a role you've never considered!


My Next Move

If you're looking for more information on a specific field or career - try out My Next Move. This site has rundowns on a myriad of positions - including information on required skills, desired personality traits, and useful abilities.



Using assessments like these will give you concrete data on your strengths and the roles that suit them.

Networking

This is STILL how the majority of jobs (roughly 70-85%) are found, and yet many job seekers and career switchers are reluctant to incorporate networking into their career strategy. Networking is NOT about asking for a job; it’s gathering information. And, as a potential career switcher, you're in the perfect place to network.


Often, when people consider networking, they think of who they can connect with outside of their circle. But as a current professional, you shouldn't neglect to speak to the people within your current network.


The people in your network that are most likely to help you are the people that already know you, your strengths, and your needs.



Dare To Explore

Don’t hold yourself back from exploring a totally different industry just because it feels uncomfortable.  Remember - you're trying to make a career switch because the job you're in right now isn't a good fit. You're not going to find a good fit without pushing your boundaries.


Going outside of your comfort zone is hard, but so is staying in a job you hate.
Choose your hard.

Here's a great example:


I once had a client who worked for a large law firm, but was also a volunteer firefighter on the side. When he decided he wanted to change careers, he was at first hesitant to explore options outside of the law firm environment he was familiar with.  However, he began to network and explore options that pushed him past his initial comfort zone.


He eventually uncovered opportunities that aligned with his interest in firefighting and landed a role that left him more engaged and satisfied.


When you're willing to explore outside of your comfort zone, you're more likely to find the role you've been missing out on.


Evaluate Along the Way

Job hunting is a grind, and its easy to get lost in the weeds. Carve out time to pick your head up and reflect on how the process is going.


Take 5-10 minutes each day for 6 weeks to note what you are observing amidst all of your research, informational interviews, networking and assessments. 


  • Have you found anything surprising? 

  • Did one conversation lead you to another resource? 

  • What else are you curious to learn or try?


Seek Support:

Career changes - whether of your own volition or not - can be emotionally draining and time consuming, especially if you are not employing best practices every step of the way. 


In a time of what may be regular rejection, make good choices in how you spend your time and with whom.  Don’t be afraid to reach out and ask for help from mentors and family members.


If you find yourself stuck, you may want to work with a professional Career Coach. Career Coach's jobs are to study best practices and guide you through the process so you're not left wasting your time.


Don't ignore your support network - you're not alone.


Be Patient. Be Resilient

Unfortunately, organization's timelines rarely align with our own. Beyond that - rejection and setbacks are bound to occur. When you're not waiting for a response, you'll likely be receiving a lot of rejections.


Controlling your mindset will be your greatest asset, as it will be reflected in all of your communications -  LinkedIn outreach, posts, interviewing, and more. Remain positive and curious - positive mindsets get positive results.


Move forward like its your only option.


Celebrate Progress

It’s important to track your progress and celebrate successes - no matter how big or small.  Did you have five informational interviews and only one telephone interview? Great.  Treat that like a win.


You’ve got to start somewhere. What you are doing takes courage and persistence - especially when you are looking to entirely change career paths. Measure your progress and make plans for improvement based on how you did last week.


Make small goals you can achieve week by week. That way, you are more likely to stay on track.

 

Finding a new career is a deeply personal and transformative journey that requires self-reflection, research, exploration, and resilience.


By following these steps, embracing the process with an open mind, and maintaining a positive outlook, you'll discover a career that is right for YOU - one that fulfills you, aligns with your skills, and brings fulfillment to your life.


Remember, the journey may be challenging, but the destination is worth the effort.


If you really feel stuck:

You might benefit from speaking with a career coach. Here are five signs you might need one.


What help from a professional career coach?


Schedule your (FREE) career strategy session today.

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