A guest post by Glen Maxwell-Heron of My Future Direction
As with lots of other things, the world of recruitment, employment and career planning is changing rapidly. How can you prepare for this and be ready to make a success of your future direction? As Barry said recently in a blog on our website: it is a case of identifying and evaluating your skills and passions, then finding a pathway that matches them in a job that makes you happy and successful. This may well require you to learn some new skills, perhaps learning to think differently as well as becoming better at presenting them and the new you to potential employers. If you need help as you embark on this journey, ask for it!
Identifying and evaluating your skills and passions
“What do you most love to do?” is a question that most people struggle with as it can include leisure activities as well as more obvious work pursuits. Answering it will take thought and time to make sure you identify all the things that you enjoy doing. It is worth putting some time in to this analysis as it is the foundation stone on which all job searching and career activities are built. So, how do you do it? Over a period of a few days or weeks, carry a notebook and pen around so you can record your thoughts about this when you have them. Don’t worry about organising them at first, just focus on getting the longest list you can, including all the things you like doing in your spare time.
You can then start grouping things together so they start to describe the kind of jobs that you really want to do: working in teams and delivering great customer service could cover anything from working in a shop to telesales to restaurant work to working in a branch of a bank. Do you like working with people? Machines? Data? Doing physical work? Computer work? Working with animals? Medical sector? Charity work? All of these things will describe your ideal job. The key thing is to find something you are really passionate about and use that as a starting point for your research.
Make a list of the transferable skills (both business and soft skills) that you have acquired so far in your career. Include skills acquired from your hobbies and private life that will be useful in your new future. Building up some relevant new skills and experiences, maybe through voluntary work, is also a smart move; it shows you are motivated to change, willing to invest your time to achieve what you really want as well as helping you to build up a portfolio in your chosen new sector.
Presenting the new you
If you are about to embark on a significant career change then, unless you are already well connected and active, you are going to have to get your experience and expertise known and market yourself. Being social media ‘savvy’ for job hunting is essential these days and a strong LinkedIn profile is vital. It is well worth the time and investment to learn how to make LinkedIn, Twitter, Google+ etc. work best for you and your job search.
Once you have decided what you want to do and got your social media profiles sorted out then network, network, network! Networking is seen by many gurus as one of the most important tools you can use alongside your portfolio. People in networks are generally happy to help: they can spread positive things about you, introduce you to new people and organisations, or provide good advice.
However, just like Twitter, it works much better reciprocally. Build a network that allows you to help other people in as many ways as possible – often it is only small things that are needed but the pay-off can be big. One of benefits of doing some 3rd sector or charity work is to build up your contacts in a new sector, but don’t forget to maintain contact with your existing network as you never know who knows who and who might be useful to you in the long run.
It is said that getting a job is a full time job in itself and this is particularly true in the case of changing sectors. You will need to invest significant amounts of time finding people to talk to, meeting them and asking them for help to achieve your aims. Down be downhearted if progress appears slow – you never know when the breakthrough is going to happen. You have always got to be smiling and upbeat when you are talking to your contacts: people respond better to happy people.
Do you need help?
If you have the chance to create a new future for yourself, it’s important to remember that work is best seen as life’s friend not as its enemy. As with all valuable and long-lasting friendships, it is a relationship that needs working at constantly and sometimes you need help to get it right. Good quality careers advice can take you through the steps above as well as using some proven tools to help define your next move. This may well involve skills inventories, some character or interest profiling, CV analysis, job analysis and information interviews to find your true passion and where the opportunities lie within it. Once your professional and personal goals are clear, then the process can be designed and implemented to achieve these in a way that brings both professional and personal fulfilment – whatever your future direction.