The Three Steps to Career Recovery
As someone who is undergoing his very own career shift, I am privileged to share my thoughts along my journey with the readers of the StrengthsInsight blog. Making a clean break with a career that provided me a good six-figure salary, stability and prestige is not an easy financial or emotional decision to make. In my opinion, it requires three key steps: introspection, research and advocacy. **Please note that as an attorney, I am trained to qualify everything: to this extent, I am not a career “expert” and I recognize that there may be any number of smaller steps in between.
Introspection = Soul Searching
In my post last week, I blogged about the importance of the pivot. Pivoting, or changing course can only occur after you’ve had a gut check moment with yourself. It requires introspection, that is looking inside ourselves and asking some basic questions about our emotional well-being. Am I happy? If not, then, why? Will this career path satisfy my core values for the long term? What alternatively would make me happy and why? For the record, these types of questions are neither easy to frame or answer and require amongst other things, time, list-making and cataloguing past life experiences. In my case, I was fortunate to have the assistance of an inspirational career coach to help me frame these questions and who furthermore questioned my responses to those very same questions.
Research = Collecting Data
Once I identified my core values and why my career path was incompatible with those values, I was able to start hypothesizing about what I would like to do with my career on a forward-going basis. Anyone who has taken a high school chemistry class knows that a hypothesis can only be proved through research. When it comes to career change, researching involves collecting data to support your reasons for change and to gain insight into what you want to do next. This means reading articles about companies or career paths that interest you, talking to friends and family about what they like or don’t like about their own careers and scheduling informational interviews with professionals who are in fields that interest you.
And guess what? You may discover that what you thought you wanted is not what you really wanted. The research may prove your hypothesis but it could require you to tweak it as well. In my own job search, for example, I expressed some interest in project management roles in the tech community. I was open to these types of positions at the outset but I did not initially have my heart set on it. It was only after speaking with colleagues and friends in the field and going to tech meetups that I was able to confirm my interest, or in other words, tweak my hypothesis.
Advocacy = Networking for YOU
After you’ve looked inside your soul and completed some hands-on research about what you would like to do, it’s time to start advocating for yourself. Advocacy from the perspective of career change is getting in front of people who can lead you to your next gig and explaining why they should introduce you to someone who can give you the job you want or why you would be a good fit for their company. The two key components require identifying the targets whom you would like to meet and developing your pitch to those targets.
In order to properly advocate for yourself, you have to clearly articulate what you bring to the table. This means you must become intimately familiar with your core competencies, give examples of how you used those competencies in the past and how they relate to what you would like to do and what a company would need from you in the future. Once you’re in front of a good target and you’re clearly advocating your core competencies, moving on to your new challenge only becomes a matter of time.
The topic of career change can be quite intimidating, especially when you’re unhappy in your present career and you’re unclear about what to do next. Nevertheless, if you devote time, energy and thought to looking inside yourself, research and advocacy, the process will become much clearer.
Legally Free is a blogger for StrengthsInsight and an attorney at law in the midst of a career transition. For the next several weeks, he will share insights into his journey of ditching his former legal career and rediscovering his love for innovative business, new and interesting people and having fun.
Have thoughts on this post? Share them with us!