by David Scoppa

Recently I saw two inspiring career development pieces out of Canada.

First, a TED Talk ‘Every decision is a career decision’ where Dave Redekopp, explains how career development is more than occupational choice and how every decision we make in our lives is ultimately impacting our careers. Furthermore, according to Dave, the question we ask students -‘What are you going to be when you grow up?’ is misguided and unanswerable as we cannot expect students to know their career when they haven’t had the opportunity to experience the career itself.

The second, an article Reframe the future with possibilities not careers’ encourages students to be resourceful and to look outside traditional career paths to seek opportunities for career success. Both pieces re-iterate how, for students, career development is a life long journey influenced by many decisions that occur as an outcome of various situations we face during our lives. Curiosity, therefore, is an integral part of a student’s career development.

Whilst it is important to encourage students to broaden their career choices and be more open about their careers, I believe the messages are just as relevant for adults. If career development is a life long journey then, as adults, we must continue to embrace a wide range of opportunities to ensure we remain employable and along the way, develop new skills and experiences.

Take for example, looking for new jobs. Unfortunately, often I meet with clients who have limited their choices by only identifying job opportunities posted to job boards. Sure, job boards are a great starting place, however, browsing job boards and setting up job alerts limits your options to simply whether a job has been advertised or not. Job seekers, I believe, need to be more resourceful when it comes to finding work.

The TED Talk and article recommend focusing on decisions, choices and possibilities outside of traditional career channels (such as job boards for example). This can be a daunting experience as it requires thinking outside of your comfort zone and connecting, on occasion, with people you may not even know. However, with the right approach and patience, this can be a very rewarding experience.

Here are a few tips to change your way of thinking and get your life-long career development journey back on the positive pathway:

  • Identify and re-familiarise with your career resources and contacts. This may include reaching out to people in your network including old colleagues/managers, friends and family who can give you advice and support to boost your confidence.
  • Recognise the value in seeking inspiration and knowledge from those outside your immediate network. Step out of your comfort zone and explore new experiences from those you may not have originally thought possible. Often, it is our unfamiliar experiences that can deliver inspiration or a memorable learning.
  • Let technology support you. The Internet has revolutionised the ability to search contacts, companies, industry news and other information to aid your career development. Use it to your advantage and keep track of key sites that are useful.
  • Along with Google searches, improved communication channels have connected the global workforce like never before. Local and international networking through LinkedIn for example, allows you to connect with like-minded people, and future employers, with a single-click regardless of their location. Smart phones and mobile devices also allow you to be kept informed and up to date whenever you need to be.
  • Embrace change and the possibilities and options that come with it. Like students who won’t know if they like a career until they have tried it, you can’t make a decision on your new next career move until you have experienced it.
  • Be curious and look for the positives. New experiences may not bring the desired outcome however every new experience is supporting your career development by building resilience for example and helping you find your niche.
  • Career development is more than your next job or promotion. Look for experiences in a variety of places and people to broaden your choices and possibilities.

By starting with the above, you will be on your way to improving your job satisfaction and creating a career development journey where you are flexible, adaptive and agile in learning and developing new skills and experiences.

After all, job satisfaction is so much more than the work you actually do and is a combination of your career itself and everything that surrounds you whilst living your life.