2 Powerful questions about work.

Posted by on June 7, 2010 in Blog | 0 comments

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Increasingly I speak to people at work who are unsure that the job, or even career, they have chosen is the right one. Graduates and young employees have more choices today than ever before – and most will retire from careers that do not exist today. So how do you know if you’ve made the right choice when you most probably were not given all the information at school? Here are two important questions.

A. How do you set about establishing what the right work for you is?

From a psychological point of view, we do what we know. Familiarity breeds comfort and we’re always seeking to get to a comfortable place. A comfort zone. Hence we become what we see in our environment.

I’m a big believer in exposure. As a teenager and young adult it is essential that you are exposed to as many aspects of work as would be possible. We must understand that in the modern day and age, most young people in school today will end up doing jobs that don’t yet exist. Hence, early exposure as opposed to early specialisation is the key. Think about it, the reason sons did what their fathers did a mere 30 years ago was because that made up the thurst of their exposure to the working world. People weren’t aware of other choices. With the advent of the internet, a global society and initiatives such as the “Take a girl-child to work day” young people are increasingly aware of the wider spectrum of the job market.

I think it’s also vital that we get out of the “1 career for life” thinking. 10 years ago, people readied themselves for up to 5 jobs spanning one career until their retirement. In other words, Jason next door became an accountant and worked at about 5 companies until he retired from a management position he got by climbing the ladder. Today we must prepare ourselves for a work force that would be willing to have 2, maybe 3, careers. Now Jason would start as an accountant, move into dedicated Management, then become a consultant and maybe retire from his 4th career as a wildlife photographer.

It mimics the fact that as people mature, they change and so do the aspects of their job that provide them with the 3 requirements for loving their job – attraction, challenge and ability.

B. If you want to change direction at work, or change careers, what’s the best way to go about it?

I don’t wish to over-simplify this – because it is not easy – but I think I can simplify it to 4 steps.

1. Decide what the new career direction is you want to take and find out everything you can about it. Research it to the Nth degree. Spend time with people you may know in that career / industry. Often other careers appear easier / more likable because you are not aware of what goes on behind the scenes. People think that my job as a speaker, “corporate mentalist” and consultant is easy and glamorous – it has it down sides – like spending hours on airports and eating airline food. Also the hours of research and preparation for keynotes and consulting meetings in industries I’m not always familiar with. Nobody sees that. So nobody understands the downsides until they’re immersed in it.

2. Get the necessary qualifications (if required) while you’re still in your current job. A friend of mine, Karyn, was an investment banker in London for several years until she realised that neither London nor investment banking was where she wanted to be. So she started doing short courses and qualifications in alternative medicine and massage therapy. When she had completed that, she quit, moved to Cape Town and has bought an existing practice in Muizenberg.

3. Use your network. Start connecting with people in your network who have exposure into your new career, thereby expanding your reach. Remember it’s not who you know, but who knows you!! A very high percentage of senior management positions as well general recruitment takes place as a result of introductions from personal networks and not merely from employment agency CV’s. And on the CV note, your biggest challenge will be your lack of experience in your new career, so you’ll need to highlight other experiences in your professional life that would augment your new career / job.

4. Do it. Start branding yourself in your new job / career using your social media networks (LinkedIn) and real networks. Get your new CV out there on websites like Job Crystal and send it to recruiters who specialise in your new job.

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