Many of us begin our careers with youthful enthusiasm and vigor. However, workplace politics, life changes, or an honest assessment of your skills and abilities may cause us to question our career directions. How do you make strategic career decisions?
When advising private clients, I usually advise a multi-step process to making career changes. This posting is a compendium of what will be several postings on career changes. Consider the following questions when making career decisions:
Can I Afford It?
Unfortunately, many people are making decisions to embark on careers without considering whether or not they can afford the education, or “underpayment” necessary in a field to pay their dues. Visit a financial planner to determine whether or not you can afford to change industries.
Is it the company or the industry?
Find out if what’s making you unhappy is it simply at the company you’re working for or an industry-wide phenomenon. Many clients who want to change fields often discover that the issues they have with their current job are related to the industry they work in or workplace politics in general. Switching careers has some financial risk, as you’re competing with people who have worked in the sector for decades.
Sometimes the answer to your career angst isn’t changing your career but finding the right environment. Consider whether or not you prosper in small, large, or medium sized companies. Are you a visionary who would like to work in a startup or help turn a company around? Ask peers in your industry if another company might be a better corporate culture fit for you.
Do you have what it takes?
Lamentably, I often encounter clients who are industry veterans with over 20 years of experience in their fields, yet have no knowledge of their professional strengths and abilities. This is a liability in an employer driven job market. Job seekers must know what makes them unique and how to sell these qualities to a potential employer.
I generally advise clients to take two tests, the Myers-Briggs and Strengthfinders 2.0. The Meyers-Briggs is based on Jung’s personality typology. The test gives you information on your personality’s strengths, weaknesses, and quirks. I love to use the Keirsey website and the associated book “Please Understand Me II” to coach clients.
Strengthsfinder 2.0 is based on David Clifton’s outstanding work in strengths based psychology. Clifton recognized that encouraging workers to “fix” their weaknesses while ignoring their strengths created less productive employees. Hence, he created the Strengthsfinder 2.0 assessment tool to help workers discover their strengths and use them at work. I recommend clients refrain from purchasing the book and simply take the tests and use the accompanying reports to improve productivity and develop a personal brand.
If you would like to learn more about how to address workplace satisfaction and career changes, listen to my NPR broadcast on 90.5 WESA in Pittsburgh.