Saturday, 25 August 2012

5 Phases of Career Exploration & Change

Phase 1Assessment:  helps you learn about you in a quick way so you can move forward with aligning yourself to applicable jobs/career paths/educational avenues. 
  • Bonus:  Builds your self-awareness and confidence so you are better equipped to make your own decisions about your future path, in addition to helping you communicate your strengths more specifically and accurately.
Phase 2 – Narrow the options down and start researching/networking to gather deeper information about the career path and/or companies you are interested in investigating.

·         1) Informational Interviewing:  This is where you get to play Investigative Reporter or Detective to develop research skills which will serve you well now and in the future in discovering more about and then narrowing your chosen fields of interest. 

·         2) Networking is a key piece of the puzzle and, for many, it is often the most difficult aspect of the job revisioning process.

o     Find more useful networking contacts and start to develop this skill as it is the 2nd key component for this step of your career but also in any subsequent steps you might want to make in your work and life moving forward.
Phase 3 – Hopefully, you have now narrowed your path(s) to pursue and are ready to really start retooling the resume to match your new direction/goals.

·       The way you rewrite the resume also prepares you for the interviewing process.

·       Suggestion:  do an inventory of ALL your skills at this point so your new MASTER resume will be very flexible and adjustable, since career change can require a few different yet similar approaches to a variety of job sub-categories.

·      Often using a Functional Resume is the best way to create a document that will showcase the skills you want for a position in your new career zone.   Try to use headings related to hard skills not soft skills as most employers will prefer to know what you can do, not what qualities you have.  A well-developed resume will provide subtext which will fill in the soft skills angles anyway.

·      Hit them with your best stuff in the first half of the first page.  Consolidate and use a hard-hitting, eye-catching format.  Think:  blurb on the back cover of a book.  Make it impossible for them not to want to buy!

·      Use Accomplishment Statements that align seamlessly to the needs of the new job. Use the job posting as your Bible.  Echo keywords, demonstrate transferrable skills using examples and make a strong pitch using experience you’ve done in and outside of work. 

·      Put it all together and your resume will light up with possibilities and professionalism!

·       Don’t get frustrated.  This is an ongoing process and, each time you review/adjust your resume for different postings, you’ll edit and rewrite and make it a nice tight document that really sings your praises!

 Phase 4Strategize your shift.

·       The Step Approach:  consider staying in your current line of work, but changing the environment you work in – ie. the company, industry or sector!

o   This can work when you….

§  Make a step into a new work environment that is more open to you developing new skills and showing them off to your best advantage and where you can be recognized and create new pathways of development moving forward.  This is an excellent way to maintain salary and status while making a significant change in career direction.  Only drawback, it usually takes more time.

§  Learn while you Earn!  Get/take additional training (either self-directed, through volunteering, or by online or traditional schooling methods of learning) while still enjoying what you’re doing.  Proven plus: distracting yourself with a new project of any kind that stimulates you outside of work can help you feel as if you’re moving forward and take the sting out of a humdrum job. 
Ongoing:  Keep applying for jobs or reconnecting to the network you developed during your Investigation process.  Write down the questions you get in interviews and develop/practice your answers until they flow off your tongue like butter.  There will always be questions you hadn’t expected in just about any interview.  The key to being poised is being prepared.

Phase 5  Once you’ve landed a new gig, keep QUESTING.  Keep broadening your network.  Dig deeper.  Investigate career pathways that intersect your own.  This process is critical to maintain for the life of your career, and can prove useful in many other areas of your life, as well.  The people who do this never have to look for jobs – jobs come and find them! 
And, if you’re the type who needs to regularly learn new things and grow beyond, well then his next step on your career trajectory likely isn’t the last you’ll ever take.  So enjoy the journey and expand your horizons!  It’s amazing how serendipity steps in and pulls it all together when you least expect it.  Just believe it’s possible and make it so!

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