Exploring Career Options? Consider These First Steps

Changing jobs or careers should be more of a marathon than a sprint. In other words, it’s a very winnable process, but you need to be realistic about it and pace yourself. It all starts with completing a thorough self-assessment to discover how your best skills, values, interests and personality can be put to the best possible use.

Start by gathering data.

Where to begin traveling down a new professional path can be an overwhelming thought. You might want to begin with one of the numerous self-evaluation tools out there, such as the Strong Interest Inventory, the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator or the DiSC Profile. These are likely to produce a lengthy list of possibilities.

Narrow it down.

From your long list of ideas, whittle it down to a Top Ten List. Base this on which choices interest you the most, and then align that information with opportunities currently available on the job market. Experts have described this process as becoming more “occupationally literate.” A professional career coach is a great resource to help you get – and stay – on track.

  • Read and do research. Create separate folders for each of your top career options. Then, research each one. Use your local library or bookstore, as well as online keyword searches.
  • Network and set up informational interviews. What you can learn from meeting people in your possible career fields face to face is invaluable. Go to events and conferences and set up meetings to get an honest scoop on what it would be like to work in a given field or at a certain company. You may want to get involved in a professional organization or local chamber of commerce. And, put your LinkedIn connections to good use.

Gain relevant experience.

Closing the experience gap from where you are to where you need to be is critically important to making a successful career change. How do you get started, especially if you’re already working full time or have additional responsibilities? There are only so many hours in a day, but try to allot at least a few of them to volunteering at an organization or company that interests you. This sends a powerful message to a prospective employer that you’re not only enthusiastic about their company, but also are dedicated, driven and a good multi-tasker.

Make a decision.

After completing these first few steps, it’s time for a SWOT – strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats – analysis of everything you’ve learned so far. Then, you can further narrow the field to two or three options:

  • Your first choice/ideal career
  • Your back-up choice: a realistic option
  • Your last choice or “safety” option

These are just the first steps.

Next comes your action plan to get to your desired goal. Again, your best resource may be a professional recruiter who can guide you through any or all the steps of your career exploration process. Consider partnering with TRC Professional Solutions to make this happen. If you tell us about your dream job – or even if you haven’t discovered yet exactly what it is – we can help make it happen. Contact us today to learn more.