Taking a leap in a new career or a new role can be daunting, exciting and of course life changing.
In an ever changing job market where the average worker stays in their job for 4.4 years (Forbes magazine, 2012), it is hard not to be thinking about your next career move. However in achieving such a milestone can often be more difficult than simply applying for an advertised role.
For people who are seeking to transition into a new career, the process of finding suitable opportunities has added complexities. However, by breaking down the process, being proactive and thinking positively, you will be able to grow and develop into a new and rewarding career.
A common approach for people seeking to career transition is to look into the following three areas:
- Looking inwards
- Looking outwards
- Looking forward
Looking inwards is about identifying your values, interests and skills and understanding your career to date and how this impacts you. Before you can focus on your next opportunity, firstly you need look at your current situation to have a clear understanding of your starting point. As the owner of your career, you can start your career transition journey by reflecting on some simply self-assessment questions such as:
- Which part(s) of your work do you find most satisfying?
- Why did you apply for your current position?
- What are you passionate about?
- What are the key skills/experiences required to perform your role?
- What behaviours/personal attributes do you employ in your role?
- What has been the most satisfying job you have had? Why?
- If you could change anything in your work, what would it be?
- What is important to you in a position?
In answering these questions honestly, you will gain an insight into what is important to you in your career and you can start to compare how your answers align with your current position. This self-assessment and reflection activity will give you an insight into your current situation and level of job satisfaction. You may even find that where you currently are now actually meets more of your needs that you originally thought.
In asking questions about what makes you comfortable and most pleased in your life you will begin to examine your perceptions about what is important to you as an individual and this in turn will identify your values.
Your values are things in your life that you believe are important in the way you live and work. They allow you to discover what is truly important to you and can be used to make decisions about how you live your life and assist you in your career planning.
In undertaking a self-assessment, you may want to consider reviewing your career values. CareerActually have created the Career Values Card Sort which is a simple self-reflection tool that that allows you to identify your most important career values.
Remember, your values will change as your life progresses and your situation changes. Keeping in touch with your values is thus a lifelong exercise.
After looking inwards, you will be ready to explore looking outwards where you begin to research where such opportunities could exist. Starting to look for vacant opportunities through the main job boards or the Saturday newspapers are only one option in finding your new career. Other areas you may wish to consider researching include:
- Speaking to your support network of friends and family
- Reaching out to previous or current colleagues
- Signing up and connecting through social networks such as LinkedIn, Facebook or Twitter
- Reviewing professional associations and industry websites
- Contacting organisations/companies directly for information about career opportunities
Reaching out to your professional and support network will allow you to learn about potential opportunities and gain an insight from others in areas you may not have originally considered.
After gathering your ideas and thoughts on looking inwards and outwards, you are ready to begin looking forward.
Looking forward is about putting a plan in place and identifying your next steps to achieve your career goals. Start with a small task and build your way up to more complex and challenging goals.
Goal setting is an important part in building your self-confidence and self-esteem when looking into career transitioning. Goal setting can help you to:
- remain focused and channel your energy and effort
- be clear in the direction you are heading
- develop/maintain determination, patience and persistence
- reward yourself when you achieve your milestones
- be proactive and help you feel more in control of your life
In setting your goals think about what you would actually like to achieve? Once you have established this you can begin to start focusing on your ‘do now’ goals, ‘investigate more’ goals, and ‘secondary’ goals. Remember, goals need to be practical and achievable.
Anne Niland, Lead Redeployment Adviser and experienced career coach from the University of Sydney, has these three tips for career transitioning;
- Do your research
- Look into all your options
- Plan how you will reach your goal
Anne believes “finding your goal is the hardest part. However, once you have done your research, investigated your options and agreed on your goal, the planning to get their will be easier”.
Remember, career development is a process and not a one off event. You will grow and continue to develop as you gain new skills and experience and grow professionally and personally. Being flexible, adaptive and proactive will lead to future opportunities.
Career Actually contributor David Scoppa is a Redeployment & Career Development Adviser at the University of Sydney where he supports a diverse range of academic and professional staff members. He has a passion for social networks, collaboration and proactive career development/transition programs. His personal career transition journey has taken him from teaching snowboarding to career coaching and he has completed studies in HR and Career Education. Contact David at firstname.lastname@example.org or follow on Twitter @davidscoppa.