THE CATALYST: 3 Key Steps in Finding the Right Career for You

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By Felix C. Veroya

“Choose a job you love, and you will never have to work a day in your life.” – Confucius

A former student from one of our certification programs reached me via LinkedIn to consult about what tips can I give him to start his career. That inquiry led me to this piece of advice especially for those who are starting or re-starting their career.

Thousands of professionals are confused and disillusioned about their careers and yearn for clarification. Some people are unsure where to begin, while others are apprehensive about starting over. Fear of losing a hard-earned status, income, or benefits, for example, can keep you trapped in a dead-end job. Many professionals accept the status quo because the prospect of being fired paralyzes them. Career clarity can be hard to find if you are blinded by career confusion and disillusion. If you do not even know where to begin, it makes the next best step for you look like a leap off a cliff.

The only constant in life is transition. You are stagnating if you are not rising. If you do not get out of your comfort zone enough to remain energized with new ideas, new places, and new people, your passion for your job will gradually sour and become stale.

Every three to five years, you can make a minor career change. Change, on the other hand, does not always necessitate rebirth. Although the “phoenix rising” strategy sounds dramatic, it is not appropriate for your long-term happiness. A career change may be an easy and creative way to put your current skills to use.

You do not have to lose yourself in the transition to a new job. The best next move is where your talents, desires, and skills converge. You may be wasting valuable resources or becoming redundant if you are waiting for the right time or any promised benefits. To ensure your long-term fulfillment and development, do not be afraid to pursue improvement.

Before you make the leap into a new position, path, or place, figure out whether you are frustrated with your job or your career — because there is a big difference. If you are frustrated, ask yourself: “Is it what I do, or who I do it with or for?”

If you are unhappy at your job because of what you do, it is time for career clarity and a career shift. If you are frustrated with who you work for or with, it is time to find a new job. You do not always have to shift your career path—some frustrations are a direct result of your environment.

Follow these three steps to assess which career is well suited for you to take and progress on.

  1. Know your strengths.

You must know yourself to grow yourself. There are only a few individuals who are aware of their strengths. If you do not know yours, there are plenty of online strengths assessments or personality tests that you can take. The results from these tests can be used to baseline your current state and strengths inventory as against to what you want to take as a career moving forward. Fundamentally, you can also do a list of the things you think you are good at and that will give you a picture of what are your strengths immediately. This may sound easy but hard to do since most of us are unconscious of our own strengths.

2. Define your interests.

It is also important to get an idea of what your interests are. We spend most of our working adult lives at work — why do something that does not interest us? Unfortunately, thousands of people all over the world go to jobs that make them bored, aggravated, irritated, and basically miserable. While you may not sing and dance all the way to work every day, the idea is to be content in your work. Assess your interests using these questions give below.

  1. Did you give up a dream to pursue your career?
  2. Is there a hobby you would love to invest more time in (and can it pay you)?
  3. What would you gladly volunteer your time to do?
  4. Are there any emerging industry trends or new methods that fascinate you?
  5. What areas in your previous or current role that you could leverage for the future?

With your answers to these questions, try to match them for with your identified strengths (or the ones suggested by the assessment tests you have taken). Find commonalities which can lead to better understanding of the right career path where your strengths and interests meet. You would want to make sure that you are using your strengths on things that make you happy and fulfilled.

3. Leverage your expertise.

Do not reinvent the wheel. To make a smart career move, it is always best to leverage your expertise as much as you can. Expertise will take time to develop. Look for things or skills that you have been doing and practicing for a significant amount of time in your career or life. For those who have already work experiences, these are great starting points to consider once you assess your expertise. You can use the questions below to assess your expertise.

  • Make a list of the skills and expertise you are known for or things that other people will ask your advice about.
  • What would you say you are great at — even if you do not use the skill in your career?

From the previous results of your strengths vs interest, match those with commonalities to the expertise that you have listed and find patterns to help you figure out things for your career.

For my case, I know that my strengths include coaching, strategic thinking, problem solving, brainstorming and logical reasoning. I am interested in new trends in science and technology, learning new things, hearing other people’s stories, and sharing my knowledge and expertise. I have developed skills in complex problem solving, communication, creativity, collaboration, and critical thinking. I ventured in a career related to training and consulting services that would empower people and organization in reference the common ground I have found. Did it take me overnight to be able to identify and do these? The answer is a big yes! It will really take time but by taking a structured approach just what I have shared, the time could be reduced significantly.

When starting a career or making a career change, conduct a gap analysis. If you enjoy what you do but need to try something different, use the lists you created to evaluate possible new opportunities. This will assist you in avoiding falling into the same pit in the future. Keep in mind that your next best move is where your strengths, skills and expertise collides.