To make the right choice for your new career path, you need to decide what factors are most important to you in your new job, and then choose the option that best reflects them.
And it works on two levels - rational and emotional, "intuitive". You will only be truly happy with your decision when they are matched. This post presents a method that can be used to analyze options at both levels and design your new career path.
As you begin preparing for the career change you want to make, start by documenting what you already know to be true about your professional self. You may not even realize how many clues are already waiting for you. You just have to stop to notice them.
For the next two weeks, pay close attention to your working day and write down any times you feel particularly demotivated or dissatisfied with your job. Write down tasks that depress you and those that excite you. This may seem like a tedious exercise, but if you stick to it consistently, patterns will start to emerge. Extracting these patterns will help you build an image of the new professional role that is most suitable for you.
How to approach the planning of a new career path
First, you need to look at things rationally, looking both at your job, but also at the things that are important to you throughout your life. Then, once you understand and sort out your options on a rational level, you can begin to look at your options on an emotional level and listen to what your inner voice is telling you.
You need to get in touch with your inner self and consider how well a variety of career options fit with your self-understanding and sense of personal fulfillment.
Do I think this is the right choice for my new career path?
Am I positive about this choice? Maybe excited?
Is this career path conducive to both my professional and life goals?
If something is wrong, you need to understand why.
Maybe some important factors are overriding. Or maybe other criteria and personal values that have not been taken into account are important?
Take the time to make sure you are comfortable with your analysis and confident that you have made the right decision, both on a rational and emotional level. This is your most important project at the moment, "My New Professional Me", and like any project, its success depends on how well the planning and risk assessment phase has been carried out. Haste at this stage is absolutely inadvisable.
When you find an option that fits both objectively (rationally) and subjectively (emotionally), the likelihood that your next career move is well-designed is very high.
To increase your chances of making the right decision and defining the best career path for you, it's worth following a structured process.
A method of discovering a new professional path
1. Know and evaluate yourself
Before choosing a new career, it's worth getting to know yourself well. Your personal values, interests, soft skills, and natural predispositions, combined with your personality type, make some jobs very well suited to you, and others completely inappropriate.
Use self-assessment tools, personality tests, or other psychometric tests to gather reliable information about your characteristics and competencies. Then generate a list of occupations that are a good fit. At this stage, some people also choose to work with a career counselor, career coach, or other career development professionals who can help navigate the process. It can be a very valuable experience.
If you have done the self-observation exercise mentioned in the introduction to this article, summarize it at this stage as well. Most likely, you will find many similarities between what psychometric tests have shown you and your own observations based on specific work situations.
2. Define goals for your new career path
Define your long-term and short-term goals. This helps to map out the path, the individual steps, and the final destination where you would like to end up. Long-term goals usually take about three years to achieve, while short-term goals can usually be achieved in six months. But this is a very individual matter and depends on many factors.
Let the tests and competency assessments you have conducted be your guide. If you feel like you haven't learned all the important details yet, do some more testing. Once you have all the information you need, set your long-term goals first.
An example of a long-term goal could be improving your education level (e.g. MBA studies) and/or obtaining a professional certificate in a new field.
Another such goal may be to change the professional profile and make the so-called "cross-functional move", i.e. transitions from, for example, the finance department to the HR department.
"I want to become a marketing manager in a large international company" - this is another example of a long-term goal. There are an infinite number of such options, for example, retraining to work in the IT industry or moving towards specialization in the field of project management.
Short-term goals are all the intermediate steps that will eventually lead you to achieve your long-term goal. An example of such goals may be, for example, learning a new foreign language (or improving current language skills); completing appropriate training or internships; a new position where you will gain the first necessary experience in the field you are interested in; reading relevant books, applying to take part in a project of another department, which is ultimately your target.
3. Create a list of possible career options
At the moment, you probably have many lists of occupations in front of you - each one generated by each of the self-assessment tools you use. To keep things organized, you should combine them into one main list.
First, look for occupations that appear on multiple lists and copy them onto a blank page. For example, title it "Top List". Your self-assessment has indicated that they are a good match for you based on a few of your characteristics, so they are definitely worth considering.
Then, find jobs on your list that attract or intrigue you. These can be, for example, career paths that you know a little about, but would like to explore them. Also include professions, positions, and roles that you know nothing about. Here you can discover something unexpected and exciting at the same time.
4. Select the most critical items from the list
Now that your information is more organized, start narrowing down the list. Based on what you've learned so far from your psychometric and competency tests, start eliminating career paths you don't want to pursue or develop.
Remove from your list anything with job responsibilities that don't appeal to you. Also, all those options that contain the elements that cause you the most stress or frustration in your current location. Also, eliminate career paths that have poor development prospects, e.g. due to problems in a given industry or economic situation. Also, get rid of any options where you are unable or unwilling to meet the educational requirements, or if you lack certain soft skills necessary to succeed there.
Ideally, you should end up with three to five new career paths or jobs on your shortlist.
5. Ask at the source
When there are only a few professions left on your list, start doing some more in-depth research. Make an appointment with people who work in the professions you are interested in. They can provide first-hand knowledge of the career paths on your shortlist. Use your contacts on social networks, such as LinkedIn, and find people to chat with.
6. Practice taking job interviews
Take part in several recruitment processes and interviews for positions that are on your shortlist.
First of all, this will give you the opportunity to verify a lot of information in practice, as well as assess your motivation to choose a given career option.
Secondly, practicing participation in recruitment processes (including internal ones) means that you get rid of the pressure and have the opportunity to practically prepare for the final battle when this pressure will undoubtedly appear. You will be able to analyze and correct all the mistakes you make in trial processes and conversations without any loss for you. You can also get valuable feedback from people conducting these recruitments. This will help you prepare even better for achieving the ultimate goal and the final verification of your preferred options for a new career path.
7. Choose the career path you want to follow
In practice, making the final decision can be more difficult if you have several options for a new career path. You may have to juggle multiple new job offers, which can be stressful.
Don't say "yes" right away. Take the time to evaluate each offer and compare employee benefits packages carefully. It's not just about money - the benefits offered or, for example, the possibility of remote work is equally important, and some conditions can be negotiated in the job offer.
Take your time with the decision. Take the time to carefully consider all your options.
And when you make your final choice, immediately forget about the other options. Don't go back to them thinking "what if". Instead, focus on the future and prepare as best you can for starting your new job.
Your career path evolves over time and changes with you. So instead of stressing about whether you are sure you are choosing the best path, focus on being as prepared as possible to make an informed decision.
Over time, Life will bring you many opportunities for corrections or will open up new, so far unrecognized options. Building a career is a process, and understanding this fact is part of your ultimate success.