Career changers: you are not alone
My guess is that if you are reading this you are considering a change in career direction. Maybe you know what you want to do but it feels like a massive journey to get there. Maybe you can’t imagine what your first step would be. Maybe all you know is that you want out of your current profession but this seems a risky move and you feel trapped and stuck. Maybe you or those around you are giving you a hard time about changing direction. Maybe you never even chose the work you are in.
Whatever your circumstance this article is for you, because you are not alone. It’s actually pretty uncommon to know what work you most want to do. And there are good reasons for that.
I know this personally because I have been a serial career switcher myself. I became interested in this area because I when I left university I had no idea really what I was going to do. I signed up for the civil service and I thought I probably won't get through all the exams and trials and the tribulations, so I will just keep showing up and then when I don’t get through I will make a proper decision about what I should to do with my life. You know what happened? A few months later I go offered the job, it seemed too prestigious to turn down and after all I had no other plans.
I remember the day that I turned up at the home office recruitment building which is on Horseferry Road, Victoria in London and I looked across at this building on the left hand side of the road and I saw that it was a concrete bunker. It seemed really depressing and kind of stagnant. Then to the right of me across the other side of the road was the Channel Four building, this TV commissioning company, filled with trendy people looking pleased going in and out in their trainers and going up and down in the glass lifts and I thought “I am on the wrong side of the road. I haven’t made a conscious choice, I haven’t really thought it through, I want to do something more creative but I have got the job here and I should take it.”
And I did take it and it was a real struggle and challenge.
I learned lots of wonderful things but the environment just didn’t really suit who I was or what I was hoping for. It actually took me seven years to get myself across the road to do work at Channel Four building. This time as a facilitator and a speaker around employability and career, which is where you and I meet each other now.
So over the last 10 years I have worked with 100’s of mid-career specialists and new graduates to help them to really begin to explore, define and discover what their ideal work looks like for them in the 21st Century.
And so today I want to give you a head start in working out your ideal career design.
Whatever your reason there’s one great question that’s going to give you a lot of clarity and I want to share that with you now.
The question for you to consider is this:
What experience am I looking for?
What experience are you looking to have as a result of your change in work and work lifestyle? Things to consider would be: I like being inside more than outside, I would like to work with groups, I would like to work on my own, I would like to do my own thing, I would like to be part of a large organisation, I would like to be part of a family run firm, I would like to be part of a large listed company, I would like to spend my time doing lots of different things every day, I want the chance to focus down and explore in depth, I want to be in noise bubbly stimulating environments, I need quiet space and reflection.
So start to consider the ways in which work works for you. What do you already know about your working style, what do you enjoy what you are looking to leave behind, what are you looking to embrace?
I’d also like you to give consideration to questions like: what are the kinds of environments I want to surround myself in? What times of the day do I do my best work? How many hours have I got available to do the job? What are the kinds of things I want to discover or solve or learn or grow with as a result of this job change? Does it need to accommodate particular flexibilities I need around caring responsibility for family for friends, my hobbies, my voluntary activities, and my other commitments?
I want you to build a really full picture based on your feelings, based on the activity, not based on the role and the specific commitments and activities of that role.
The clearer we are about our criteria for our next role, the easier we can gravitate toward it. The first stage is to clarify experience, then to work on how to get there!