Career Exploration Tips
that was once fancied as a teenager doesn’t sound as interesting any
more. If facing Monday mornings sounds the equivalent of facing a
self-imposed execution order and if you find yourself being helplessly
dragged to work, you are not alone. The truth is that as we grow, our
priorities change, and with changing priorities our definitions of
“satisfiers” and “dis-satisfiers” undergo a radical change. If fretting
about your career is affecting your professional performance and
personal life, it may be time to consider a career change.
Sometimes a career change may not be necessary at all; rather, small
changes in the way you do your job may do the trick.
Rule out job-related factors
Sometimes extreme work pressure, long commutes, bad bosses, lower
salary, and a host of other factors may be contributing to your
dissatisfaction and a career change may not be necessary at all. A new
job or a different industry (using your existing strengths) may just
do the trick and is much easier. If, however, you determine that it is
your profession that you are unhappy with, it may be time to explore a
Keep the following tips in mind before embarking on a career
What is it that you like to do most? Why? Is there any activity or
interest that you particularly love or enjoy? Example, do you love
traveling? Is it because you get to see new places? Or, is it because
you love nature? Or, is it for the thrill of flying? Or, the joy of
meeting new people? It is not enough to know what your interests are;
you need to go a step further and evaluate why. These underlying
reasons may often hold the clue to your inner passions and a potential
line of work to fulfill them.
Your skills, interests, values, personality -- all of these should be
carefully considered during the process of career exploration. Avoid
thinking about financial responsibilities, barriers, etc. Just let
your fancies lose. Don’t worry you are still at the stage of
brainstorming; thinking about other things won’t let the creative
juices flow freely.
Assessments such as Myers Briggs Type Indicator, Strong Interest
Inventory and an assortment of assessments can help navigate options.
Be careful, though, assessments need to be interpreted carefully (by
an expert) and should in no way be considered a final verdict.
What are your short term goals? long term? Unless you know your life’s
purpose how can you make a meaningful change?
Research, research, research
Once you have narrowed your options to two or three choices, it is
time to undertake extensive research. What growth opportunities exist
in your industry? What is the median salary? What are the entry
requirements? How stable is the career? Which area of the country are
most jobs available? What are the work conditions like? Are there any
certification requirements? What kind of experience is desired? These
are just a few of the questions you need to ask. Familiarize yourself
with every aspect of the industry. Our
planning resources and
industry research section can be
helpful at this stage.
Informational interviewing, the process of gathering information
through networking is an effective means to gather different
perspectives from insiders. At times, these conversations may also
open doors to potential job opportunities. Ask your network questions
like what they love the most about that job? Least? What does the job
entail? Prepare a list of questions and see if you fit the bill.
Try testing the waters
Internships, volunteer opportunities, opportunities within the same
organization are just a few ways you can actually get a feel for the
profession before making a full career change. Experiencing a new
profession from within can really give you a good idea about what the
job would entail. Sometimes, it may be possible to get your feet wet
within the same company you are at. Try voluntarily taking on extra
tasks in the new area you are interested in. It may mean more work but
the effort could be worth the rewards.
Cost Benefit Analysis
Now, it is time to conduct some cost-benefit analysis. What will
switching careers at this stage cost you? How much income would you
lose? Is there a part time job or freelancing opportunity that you can
add to supplement your income? A career change may at times require a
new degree, certificate, or training; are you willing to get one?
Sometimes, you may decide to take the cut and switch; while under
other circumstances you may decide to stay put in your current
position. In either scenario, conducting a cost-benefit analysis is
Transition slowly if necessary
Depending on your personality, you may want to take the transition
slowly. Adding a part time job in your new career and slowly
transitioning to a fulltime position may work for some, while for
others it may not be necessary.
Stay financially strong
If you don’t have a financial cushion or part time or freelance job to
support yourself, the transition may be much harder due to financial
worries. It is always a good idea to have a cushion or supplemental
income during this process.
Work with a professional
Career exploration is a complex process. Having a coach or counselor
on your side could make all the difference. Your local Career One Stop
center, community college, university, or
government sponsored programs may
also be able to help.
How does your move impact your overall career goals
What is long term career goal? Does your career exploration lead you
to a career in that direction.
Sometimes you may be able to keep your regular job while you explore
new waters during nights and weekends. It may not be a good idea to
burn bridges with your current employer for some companies do not
appreciate the idea of a second career. No matter what or how you
decide, carefully plan your move. You must also be careful to not
alert your employer beforehand.
We hope you enjoyed
the following article: "Career Exploration Tips."