Has the new year got you feeling like it’s time for a change, but you’re not sure where to start? Figuring out your next career move can be easier said than done, so let our handy ‘top tips’ set you on the right track:
1) Start a pros and cons list
Get that paper out and start taking note of what aspects of your job you enjoy, and the parts you would be happy to never do again. Take stock of everything, including all the bits and pieces that make up your day-to-day workload. What drives you nuts and what do you find really stimulating? Is it the endless emails or phone calls? Do you find your energy lifting when you interact with other people or are you happiest working on your own? No matter how minor it might seem, write it down.
This is something to do over a number of weeks, keep a list and add to it as you go. You might start to notice some patterns in the types of things you like and those you don’t, which could be very useful information to have when you start considering your next move.
2) Think big picture
What do you want to get out of your next career move, or your career in general? Some of us can answer this question straight away, but for others it can be hard when you don’t have a set career goal in mind. Earning money is of course a big driving factor, but what else?
Do you want to get a promotion, or work your way up through management? Do you want to lead a successful project? Does being a subject matter expert sound appealing? What about getting a better work/life balance? Or maybe you just want to be in a nicer workspace? For some it can even be as basic as wanting to wear a suit to work. Don’t feel like anything is too silly or insignificant, this is all about you and what you want out of life. Take stock of why you do what you do, and what motivates you to be successful at your job (other than the paycheck).
3) Tell the people that matter
You don’t need to have a firm plan in mind yet, but letting your manager in on what direction you think you’d like to go can make your career path smoother. It’s easy to fall into the trap of expecting your managers to be mind-readers. However, if you rely on someone else to guide your future without really knowing what makes you tick, chances are you’re going to be disappointed. Let your manager in on your ideas, tell them what parts of your role you’re enjoying and the parts that you’re avoiding. Two heads are better than one, they may see opportunities or potential career moves that wouldn’t have occurred to you. Once your manager has a better understanding of what direction you want to move in, they can help you get on the right track.
If you don’t feel comfortable, or just don’t have that kind of relationship with your manager, talk to a senior colleague instead. It’s good to speak with someone that’s seen you in action and understands your working style!
4) Do some homework
Time to give google a workout! We all have hobbies or things we like to do in our downtime, so use your passions or interests to help inspire you. Let’s be honest, finding a dream job is a little like finding the proverbial needle in the haystack. Very few people truly get to do their dream jobs, but that doesn’t mean you can’t at least incorporate some of those dreams into a real employment opportunity. Rather than waiting for that life-changing phone call or email, start doing your own research.
You can start as broad as you like and go from there, for example – do you like cats? Typing “cat jobs” and your location into google will bring up all sorts of results, many that are legitimate career opportunities related one way or another to our furry friends. This could lead you to finding work associated with a genuine interest that you didn’t even know existed!
5) Seek advice from those that know
If you have the opportunity to, speak to others who are already in the industry or role type that interests you. There’s no need to reinvent the wheel when others have already done the hard yards. Getting advice from people who have “been there, done that” can be invaluable.
Some professions hold regular meet and greets or networking events, so you have nothing to lose by going along and having a chat. Same goes for internet forums and special interest groups on the likes of Facebook and LinkedIn. Keep in mind that what works for one won’t necessarily work for all. But at least their experiences can act as a guide, especially when it comes to starting out or getting your foot in the door.
6) Be realistic
Don’t stress about finding your ‘forever’ job right now because that’s just added pressure that isn’t going to help. Instead, bring your horizon in a little closer, say the next five years. Where would you like to be and what kind of work would you like to be doing by then? Now start to work backwards, what realistic steps could you take to get there? It could be as simple as wanting to work closer to home, or more ambitious like wanting to step into a leadership position in the next two years. If you’re someone who’s motivated by goal setting, write it down, tell your friends and family and then allow them to help motivate you towards it!
It’s important to give yourself time when it comes to career moves. Accept the fact that there are no quick fixes or magic bullets. If you’re serious about finding more satisfaction or meaning in your daily grind, then you’re going to have to give yourself time to work through it all. Don’t be too hard on yourself, keep an open mind and keep at it! Just remember that you don’t have to figure it all out by yourself. Friends, family, colleagues or even recruiters can help you get on the right track!
Kirsty and Nikki