You are sitting at your desk, hacking a spreadsheet you hate, having a sales call you no longer love, or torturing your brain with another research you find boring. It’s just a typical day at work when you are wondering why you do what you do and why you work where you work. And you are desperate for a career change.
You have been in your field for a number of years. You are good at what you do and have a name for it in the market. You are called by headhunters for similar roles at the other companies. But feeling you have hit a career plateau, you question yourself if you truly want to do the same thing again. At the same time, your soul tells you that life is short and you are meant to do something else that is closer to your heart and really makes you happy.
You have been out of the workforce for a few years. While you have the option of going back to the same kind of job, you find it hard to re-enter the market or to accept a more junior role due to your inactive period. During the time off, you, however, also realize that you have the other talents that you want to unleash.
You have that push to pursue something else, but you are not sure what that dream job is. Could it be making a great income doing what you love, with awesome people, whenever and wherever you want, either it be a beautiful island or a charming café, while having time for your sleep, health, family, and friends? While this sounds like a dream, it is indeed a dream because such “greener grass” is the results of lots of hard work and long hours. What makes a career change fulfilling yet practical is to follow a well-structured and proven process. Below are the key steps that I have been using to help many career changers to find their next dream jobs.
It’s important that you conduct a career detox, once and for all, by digging deep and wide into your past experiences since childhood. The objective is to understand the patterns of your values, natural talents, strengths, interests, and passions, and how they intertwine, which lay a strong foundation for the right next move that you won’t regret.
Now, treat yourself to a beautiful quiet place you love (at a favorite café, at your brightly lit window looking out the lush, in a garden in bloom, etc.). It will surely help your brain to work at its best when answering the following questions.
Who you are:
· What is your personality? The best sources are your family, friends, and colleagues. Check with them about the top three words they say about you. Additionally, you could do some free online personality tests, such as:
Or you could do the very popular MBTI test.
· What is your life purpose? What do you think you were born for?
· What are your top five personal values? Are they balance, freedom, creativity, family, living your dreams, health, respect, …?
· What were you so passionate about when you were a child?
· What do you most love to do?
· What makes you talk about non-stop?
· If you have everything you want in your life, what else do you want to pursue?
Your natural talents & strengths:
· What are you naturally good at?
· What skill/talent do you wish to have if you have a magic wand?
· What do people including your colleagues, friends, and family turn to you for since you were a child?
· What is the feedback about your strengths from all of your managers?
You can also try Strengths Finder 2.0.
· There are times when you get lost in time when doing something. You are so engaged within that you even don’t notice about anything happening around you and about the time. What is that something?
· What are the issues in the world that you want to take action on right away?
· What is your Internet search trend when you freely browse? (fashion, environment, etc.)
· If you can trade your job with a friend, what is that job? And why?
· Who are your top five role models and what are their skills/talent you wish to have?
· Who/what has influenced what you wanted to do? And how do you think about that?
· What jobs do people often tell that you are best fit with?
Your working environment & you work:
· What is a stimulating environment for you so you could thrive?
· What are your top five career values? (company’ reputation, salary, growth,…)
· What do you like about your previous roles?
· What do you dislike about your previous roles?
· What motivates you to go the extra miles?
Your happiness formula:
· What are the must-have’s in your happiness formula? These are factors that without them, you feel unhappy.
Once you have the answers to the questions from “Review”, let’s bring them altogether to see the patterns/key words that keep coming up, define your long-term, medium-term and short-term career visions, and brainstorming career options. For each option, try to visualize as much as possible to have a good feel about it.
The next step is to narrow down to your top three career choices, keeping in mind the industries of your favorite (it’s OK if you feel strong about more than three, as you are not committed to them right away but will test them out in the next step).
The last step in this stage is to test your options. Ultimately, you would want to know what the job exactly entails, what the career trajectory looks like and most importantly, the good, the bad and the ugly about each career option. There are a few ways you can do so:
1. Doing research (books, the internet, newsletter, conferences, talks, etc.)
2. Conducting informational interviews. Ideally, you would want to interview five people for each career option so you have an unbiased view. Start with your family, friends and don’t hesitate to reach out to people on LinkedIn who you really want to learn from. As long as you have done research about them, are well-prepared, are polite, sincere and respectful, people will surely open their doors.
3. Taking experiments by job shadowing, volunteering, internship, side hustles, …, inside and outside of your current company.
And bravo! By now, you should have clarity on the career option and industry of your dream.
If your next step is to find a job, then make sure to evaluate your readiness and take necessary actions if required. If your skills are transferable, the next step is straightforward: Identify the companies you love and go for it. Be sure to tap on your network and build a strong personal brand.
However, if you are making a radical career change, says from teaching to laws, make sure you work to bridge the gap so you’re ready (taking a degree full-time or part-time, adjusting your savings, etc.).
If you have a firing belief that you should have your own business as the next step, then make sure you have a reality check including an evaluation of your financial security, your risk and trade-offs tolerance, a holistic assessment (passion, market, …), a solid plan (even when you may not set up one, to test your readiness), plan testing if possible so you have a practical sense of your hypothesis.
And last but not least…
Remember to keep yourself physically and mentally healthy, and don’t forget to reward yourself for small victories along the way. It will help you get through times of disappointments and boost your productive thoughts.
If you need a trusted career strategist and coach who partner with you in the process and help you land your dream job, please feel free to check out my Career 4.0 Coaching programs here.