Career Change Planning

By Steve Nicholls

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Steve Nicholls - Career Change Planning

We hear a lot these days about the death of the CV, but how does this then apply to “career” as we know it? Depending on what stats you believe, we will all have a few career changes in our lives. That’s a given, but I often wonder if it’s the “Heavily into Social Media” set that can influence our thinking……..

This article explores looking at your next career. What will it be? Should you always be looking, networking, looking for the next big thing? How do you decide on a new career? What strategies work? Should you always be on the lookout for the next big thing?!

Competition for jobs has never been more fierce, so ensure you have decided on what you really want to do next in your ideal career before jumping from the frying pan to the fire (whether you’re currently working or not working). This requires taking a step back from browsing the vacancies, to ensure that you’re pursuing the best career path for you. Have you considered a fresh start? Lacking in new career ideas? So where do you begin?

Take the time to get a complete picture of yourself

Take a deep breath, and take the time to get a complete picture of yourself; likes, dislikes, strengths, values, goals… It can take time, because the natural urge is to just job hunt, but it’s vital to take a look at all of ‘you’ before careering (no pun intended!) into looking at specific jobs. How do you do this? I suggest you get started by writing a short biography, and to look at your highs and lows over the past, so that we can have as full a picture as possible of “you”. What have you achieved in your career that you’re proud of? What did you really enjoy? What problems or challenges have you encountered over the years, and how did you overcome these? Following these suggestions will give you as full a picture as possible of “you”. Some tips during this process would be:

Be positive throughout – if it’s difficult, write down ten things that you like about yourself. This is often a challenge, but will help your mind-set

When writing your biography, look for clues to your values, and write them down.

Think about whether you’re naturally a risk taker career-wise. If so what happened when you took risks? What happened when you didn’t?

In tandem with the above, start to generate career traits/ideas/factors that appeal to you. Keep them as a list, collage, whatever works for you. Keep updating this list with new ideas as you go about your day. Be in a constant mode of enquiry.

The last point above is vital, and worthy of repeating. I understand the natural urge is to just job hunt, and focus on career ideas. I suggest that you generate factors about jobs you might like. Factors, not necessarily the job itself; so you could see a job advertised on a hoarding that you’d never consider, but an aspect of that role appeals – note it down. Importantly, don’t “edit” your ideas at this stage.

The exploration of oneself can also be a fun stage where I see “light bulbs” going on regularly, as realizations about past errors in career strategy are realised, and a plan to move forward is gradually laid down. This is a thorough process, and I urge you to take the time to explore all of your values, strengths, likes, and desires before rushing into job search per se.

After exploration - the "dream" phase

After the exploration stage, I suggest that you enter what I call the “dream” phase. This is an exciting stage where you get to think outside of the box, be expansive, really go for it! What careers have you ever dreamt of doing? What jobs did you dream about when you were 5 years old? 10 years old? 15 years old? – No, don’t “edit” yourself”. Write them all down.

After this process you may have generated many many different job ideas (this process could happen over a few weeks, so you will hopefully have accumulated lots of ideas. By using the exercises you’ve done previously, and your own intuition, try to get to three possibilities. All three possibilities should meet your values, skills and abilities, and be something you feel truly passionate about. All three ideas should also stack up against all of the aspects of Life and Work, which you will have been recording throughout the process. After we have those three ideas, through the coaching process we then get to one idea! It’s this idea which you will take forward and formulate a plan of action to get you there! How do you get from three options to one? I suggest you ask yourself some searching questions:

Referring back to the previous exercises, really drill deep down into each choice. Which makes you feel really enthusiastic?

Ask yourself the potential pro’s and con’s for each choice

Paint a “Word Picture” for each choice; see yourself doing the role in the future – write it down. How does it feel? What are you doing? Why do you love it so much? Could it be better?

What results would you like to create for each possibility?

Your final choice should be the one that’s most “alive” for you

Create a binding action plan

Finally, I suggest that you create a practical, detailed, time bound action plan, which is a list of actions required to move you toward your career goal. Decide who you need to contact (or other action required), by when, and for what reason. This detailed list of action points is vital to carry the whole process forward.

Everything I’ve described above in terms of processes can take up to 12 coaching sessions, so take your time, don’t expect miracles. This is a “Self Leadership”, pragmatic process at the end of the day, which is well worth your investment in time.

For what it’s worth, I don’t think the CV is dead, not yet. Cloud-based and other options still have a way to go… and as far as being always on the lookout for the next big thing, career-wise? Well, we’re in that world where we’re always marketing ourselves to each other; through social media, or through other interactions. So Brand You I feel is just a catch phrase for something that’s always been there – the need to be “social”, to be in a “constant mode of enquiry” as I call it. In a world where there’s no more “career for life” we do need to have our ear to the ground, even if it’s passively, while getting on with the day-to-day of our current role.

Whatever path or strategy you take with regard to career change planning, I hope that you will take that ‘step back’ I talked about earlier, to ensure that your needs and values are being fully served by your new career choice. That way, you might at least choose a career area you’re more truly suited to. Good Luck!

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