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Exploring Your Career Options

Apr 16, 2008
Once you have made the decision to change your career and go for the dream, you need to widen the net as much as possible. Sometimes people know exactly what they wish to do but often that first step is not so clear. If this is you then you need to explore your options. One of the first things I ask my clients to do in this exploration is an exercise I call harvesting skills. This exercise is to help you identify the skills you enjoy using

Harvesting Skills Exercise
Divide your page in two. In one column list each the jobs you've had, - every one, even voluntary ones, the more you can add to this list the greater the depth of information you will have to work with.

Now list all your responsibilities for each job.

In the second column against each job/responsibility distil them into skills you used. Not just the practical skills like computer, accounting etc but also knowledge and people skills.

Take another look at the list, is there anything that you love to do that is missing from this skill list? List any non-work related things that use a skill. For example, you might love playing a team sport and you also might be the captain of that team, what skills does that involve? Add them.

When you have written all these varied skills down take a moment to acknowledge your unique set of skills. See what life experience you bring with you to this point in time. Do not skip this stage; it is very important that you acknowledge yourself, acknowledge your self worth, your value to humanity.

Honesty time now. Cross out any skill you do not like performing. You may be brilliant at one thing and everyone may say to you "you're a born (blank) but if you don't like doing it then cross it out. This process is to find what makes your heart sing, nothing that you dislike has any place here.

Matching your skills
Next take a look at the skills list that you now have. Does anything stand out? Do the skills on that list remind you of an interest you had a while ago but buried? Does a particular career path shout from the pages? If so then start doing some research on that particular career. The internet is a great resource for information; if it is in the mainstream you can get a good idea of the details from reading up on the industry.

Any job website will have a pretty good description of what each career entails. Using keywords, your skills that you have identified - you can start to see where they might fit. You can also use this method if you don't have a clear idea of what you want to do. By looking at where certain skills are in demand you will find jobs that you maybe you wouldn't have thought of.

Another great way of getting ideas of careers that might suit you is to ask those who know you best. Many times I have had clients show their skills list to friends and have them hit the nail on the head. Those that know us well often see where our skills and our passions match when we don't. For example, I had a client who had a great eye for fashion and often helped her friends sort out their wardrobe and shop. Her skills list was very people orientated and organised. When she talked with her friends and showed them the list they all said personal shopper/stylist. She'd been doing this for years for friends but it took the combination of the skills list and insight from friends to land on the idea. She now loves her new career.

Buy some career-orientated magazines, read the business pages of the newspapers, and see what's out there. This can be in the editorial as well as the ads. By looking at what is being offered in the classified section you could easily see something that you wouldn't have necessarily thought of. Follow any leads you get especially those gut feelings, our hunches are often spot on.

Allow for some synchronicity. As you start the career change process and get in touch with the excitement of change you will often draw to you a variety of coincidences. Perhaps there will be a newspaper article that catches your eye or a program on the TV. Or perhaps you end up having a conversation with a work colleague about their cousin who has just changed jobs and it sounds like it. Keep your ears and eyes peeled. Let the magic work too.

Getting acquainted with a possible career
As well as your research on the Internet another way to get information on a possible career is to talk to someone who is in a similar line of work that interests you. Do know someone personally or maybe a friend or family member might know someone? If not, is there a firm locally you could approach? The main thing with this is to be clear that your not asking for a job or favours but simply an opportunity to find out more about what they do.

This may be in the shape of a phone call in which they give you 15 minutes of their time or perhaps you could come into their office to speak to them. Offer to take them out to lunch, everyone has to eat! Either way be respectful of their time and ensure that you have your list of questions prepared so you can make the most of the opportunity. The ultimate in this is to shadow the person for a day if they will let you, that will really give you an insight into the work they do.

Hands on experience is good to check an idea out. Volunteer or offer some time for work experience. Spend some time in the sector that interests you. Sometimes a career can seem very enticing but until you see the nitty gritty of it you won't know. Volunteering is also a way into a particular field. A friend of mine volunteered with Friends of the Earth before working for them for four years, not only does it inform you about the work but can also gives you an 'in' should you decide "

"Shoot for the moon because even if you miss you'll land amongst the stars" Les Brown
About the Author
Jessica works internationally as a Life Fulfilment Coach empowering people to create the life they choose and gain fulfilment in every area of life. If you would like to arrange a time for her to call you for a free introductory session please email Tel +34 958 639 593 or jessica@jessicamcgregorjohnson.com. For more information visit her website by clicking this link
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