If you think you want a change, or hate what you do now, but have no idea what you could do, you are not alone. After 10 or 20 years in a career many of us feel we are at a dead end, or we have lost interest. Even after a couple of years of doing one job straight out of college, we may feel this is not what I thought it was going to be. I am not happy. I want to do something else. But what?
The way to find out what you want to do with your career is to follow these steps:
1.SELF ASSESSMENT – Find out your skills, interests, work values, cultural fit List your top 25 accomplishments from your life including school, extra-curricular activities, work experience, volunteering experiences, unpaid work, etc. Pick seven top stories – the ones that you enjoyed the most and feel great about. Write those up. Then compare them to see what are the skills that stand out for you? Is it planning, budgeting, working with people or animals, creative, analytical, writing or speaking?
2.VALUES – work values. Picture yourself at work. Are you in a large office or small cubicle? Are you working from home? Are your co-workers young or old, or a mixed bag? Is your boss a micro-manager or a laissez-faire manager? Are there opportunities to learn, grow, take courses, and meet new people?
3.INTERESTS – What are you passionate about? Taking care of animals? Fishing and the great outdoors? Reading? Traveling? Working with young people? Do you like volunteering in a soup kitchen? Make a list of your interests. Then…
4.BRAINSTORM – What kinds of job titles are a match between each of your skills and your interests? Here are some examples. If you are a good writer and like to travel you could be a travel writer, food critic. If you like to write and are interested in government, you could be a publicist or speech writer. If you are a whiz at analyzing numbers and like sports you could do data analysis for a sports equipment or sports clothing retailer. If you are good with numbers and like theatre you can do the bookkeeping for a theatre company. If you are good at blank and like blank you could become a (fill in the blank).
5.RESEARCH – Then research these job titles to see if they are realistic. Research consists of reading, searching online, and meeting with real people. What does this person actually do on the job? Look online for job descriptions. Talk to people who do these jobs and find out what they do all day. What was their career path? What challenges do they face? What is their typical day like?
If you follow these steps and come up with three to five possible job titles, then you can pursue a job search, perhaps after taking a few courses if necessary, re-writing your resume, joining a few professional networks. If this sounds too difficult to accomplish alone, try working with a career coach.
Amy Geffen, PhD is a Five O’Clock Club Certified Career Coach with over 30 years of experience in non-profits, associations and college administration. She has worked with financial, insurance and engineering professionals as well as academics and non-profit executives.