I've got the September itch. I've been in my current job as an office assistant for two years and I am bored. I want to completely change fields, but don't want to go back to school. What are the best ways for me to search for a new career I want? I have a degree in political science, I want to do more than what I am now, and I want more responsibility. I'm just not sure where to go, or how to sell myself, either. What can I do to find out which direction to take?
This is a common question people ask themselves at this time of the year. And it is a question many revisit over and over again in their careers.
For most people, careers happen by accident. An opportunity comes up and we grab it and start working – and that experience leads to the next job, and the next. There comes a time when we start to question what we are doing, but the thought of changing careers seems so daunting that it is quickly dismissed.
The truth is there is no scientific formula of understanding what career or job you are best suited for. All it takes is a deep, serious understanding about yourself.
What is really bothering you – does it require a major change, or perhaps something smaller? Do you like your work, but the company you work for disinterest you? Or perhaps the company is great, but a different department might be of interest. If changing careers entirely is what you need, then there are other questions to ask yourself.
What are your strengths that you want to focus on?
There tends to be a big difference between what we like and what we are good at. You may be a good administrative assistant, but really don't like it. What do you bring to that job that you can apply to another kind of role? Make a list of these strengths and clearly understand why they are strengths to you.
Play to your strongest suits
Given your strengths, imagine where you can see yourself applying them. Would it be in a small organization or on a large team? Would you work independently, or with little direction?
What kind of work are you most proud of?
How have you applied these strengths in situations that have made you proud? These are your accomplishments and they are what you take with you when talking about what you like to do. Write down two or three accomplishments that illustrate your strengths.
These strengths and accomplishments, coupled with a solid understanding of your key values, will help you understand yourself better, and give you some idea of what kind of work you want to do, and where you can do it.
Think big and be open to all kinds of possibilities
Next is to get the message out there by talking to people you know who do the kind of work you are thinking about doing. Ask them about their job, how they got it and what credentials they have. Find out the nature of the work, the stresses – everything you need to make a firm decision on what kind of work to go after. Talk to as many people as you can, telling them about your strengths and what you are most proud of in your career thus far.
Finally, trust your instincts. If a kind of role feels right, but is not what you expected it to be, go after it. Remember, you are not making a lifetime commitment to this new career. It is just one phase of many a career you may have.
Eileen Dooley, a certified coach and lead consultant for McRae Inc. in Calgary, will be online with The Globe and Mail Fri. Sept. 21 between 12 and 1 p.m. (ET) to talk about how to make a career change and answer reader questions.
She'll discuss how to determine why your current career isn't the best for you, and how to search for a career that will keep you satisfied.
To send in a question in advance of the online chat, please e-mail it to firstname.lastname@example.org.
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