Do you feel stuck in an unhappy job or are looking to rejoin the workforce after some time off but feel unsure of what career is the right one? Read on for this updated on my classic and proven three step plan on finding your way. I'll also link to a FREE video on "How to Get Unstuck".
I can tell you from personal experience that it is easy to become complacent, whether in a career that you are decent or good at, that pays the bills or that just is okay. I also understand, no matter if you are working or not, that at the end of the day you may feel a little empty, and that as the years go by you begin to feel a lot lost - lost from those idealistic days of school when the world was your oyster. Well now is the time to break out of the comfort zone and find that dream career of yours.
Now, what if you don't know what career is the right one for you? It is very common to feel so lost that you don't know what your next move should be. Well here is a tried, tested and true way (see classycareergirl.com and Career Leader Assessment) to figure all that out using me and my story as an example.
As a child what were you interested in? Your core interests (not hobbies!) don't usually change too much as you get older. Which means that this is the key to find a fulfilling career. Maybe you used to love taking things apart to see how they worked, or anything to do with numbers. Maybe you were constantly making up stories or taking care of animals.
For me, I always loved helping and coaching people. In class I was always the one who was paired with a struggling child so that I could help them improve their grades. I also loved helping people figure out their lives and was the go-to person for family and friends to help them find their way.
When I was reflecting on my interests this, I looked at where I found the most joy and fulfillment in my job as a Recruiter and I noticed that the times I spent providing advice on careers (job search, resumes, interviews) was when I was happiest. And it makes sense - it is when I'm really helping them beyond just the transaction of if they fit this job and it is giving them the knowledge and tools to figure out their careers.
What motivates you? Your motivations can fluctuate as you mature and as your life changes. So think about what is most important right now. Is it job recognition, location, money, a prestigious job title/company? These change as your life changes - a family usually is one of the biggest impacts on motivations!
I really only have one motivation right now - job flexibility. I have two kids (Nolan, 6 and Abby, 4) who are in school and a husband with a career that requires him to commute. So the flexibility to work from home is paramount to me. The great thing is I can help people during times that make the most sense for them - like in the evenings, while still being there to get my kids off of the school bus.
What are you good at? You can ask your friends, your boss, colleagues. You can also look at any previous performance reviews, or see if there are any patterns in what people are complimenting you on. Skills are things that don't change (most soft skills) and things that you can build upon and learn (hard skills).
Looking at the skills I've developed throughout my life and career I have seen some patterns. As a recruiter, I don't even know how many resumes and LinkedIn profiles I've screened, but can estimate that it is in the tens of thousands. I interview people every day - over the phone and in person asking all the different types of interview questions there are. I am a good listener who is able to quickly get to know a person since I am highly empathetic. And not to toot my own horn, I am able to translate a person in my writing so that they come alive on paper.
So combining my interests, motivations and skills led me to take this leap - freelance career coaching. I couldn't be happier with this decision.
What led me to finally breaking out of my own complacent bubble was that this past spring my grandfather passed away and while I was mourning him I realized one of the things he taught me was to never to late to embark on a new adventure. He did all these amazing things in his life - including white water rafting and paragliding in his 80's - to life it to the fullest. I wasn't. I was going with the flow in a job that suited my skills and my motivation of flexible work but I wasn't paying any attention to my interests. But using the above three step plan, it was obvious to me what I needed to do. And yes it was scary to put myself out there with the risk of failure but I knew I would regret it if I didn't.
So whether you are new into your career, a stay at home mom, or someone with only 5-10 years of working years left, it is never too late to find your way to a fulfilling job.
To watch a free training (less than 15 minutes!) of me walking you through "How to Get Unstuck"
You know me. I don’t do warm and fuzzy when it comes to the job search or career changes. You see, I’m a big believer in you knowing the good, the bad and the ugly (with an emphasis on the latter 2) so that you can be prepared. Knowing what can come allows you to come up with a plan. Either a plan of how you will handle it, so that you can overcome these challenges. Or a plan of how you can mitigate these risks, so that they either pass you by or hit with a softer punch.
1. Ageism Exists
No one wants to believe it. Especially since it is ILLEGAL for companies and managers to discriminate you. But it does, I’ve seen it first hand. In a recent AARP survey they found that 48% of people over 50 have witnessed or experienced ageism.
This reverberates throughout the last decade or two of your career. Meaning that you’re more likely to be passed up for a promotion and definitely more likely to be laid off. Compounding the problem is that for individuals over 55, a job search takes longer due to pervading stereotypes preventing companies from requesting an interview or presenting an offer.
It also exists the other way too, there is a stereotype of millennials that has pervaded the thoughts of companies, especially ones that are holding on to their “traditional” culture. But it doesn’t just impact their ability to get a job but also impacts their salary as they make 20% less than Gen X and other generations did at the same age.
Want more? I did a Facebook Live about this very topic.
2. Most People Hate Their Jobs
52% of people hate their job. Every time I write that out I’m floored. I don’t know why it shocks me though since I spent 15 years in a career I didn’t like! It is hard to find true success and happiness in our careers and jobs if we don't like them.
This means we are less engaged, less productive and less everything. It has a detrimental impact on our feelings of self-worth.
So when you are finally ready to find that fulfilling career it is a little bit harder. Find ways to love the job you hate so that you can find the career you love.
3. Professional Ghosting is a Thing
It shouldn’t be a thing. But it is. And it is a two-way street, candidates ghosting companies and companies ghosting clients. In fact, CareerBuilder states that 75% of applicants never heard back from an employer during the job search!
It is so unprofessional on both ends. But instead of ranting, let’s talk what YOU can do about it.
Number 1, obviously, don’t ghost. If you change your mind or circumstances just let an interviewer know. Blacklisting can happen and you don’t want to take that chance.
Number 2, if you are ghosted. Follow-Up 2-3x max. If it really rankles you leave a negative review for them on Glassdoor. Then move on, you can’t let the negativity ruin your whole search!
4. Burn Out is on the Rise
Burn Out has gotten so bad that WHO has included it in its International Classification of Diseases . I’ve helped clients in the throes of it and others who are finally seeing the light. I’ve heard from HR across the country who has seen a rise in sick leave due to stress. It is spreading and it can completely derail your career.
Full blown burn out can take a long time to recover from, and there are cases where a person never fully does. Meaning that they need to change working conditions and sometimes careers to stay healthy.
First off, read this article on the signs and symptoms to see if you have Burn Out. Then do something – maybe call your Doctor if it is really bad, hire a coach to ease the suffering or pick ONE thing to get you moving towards a healthier work-life.
5. Your Online Presence is Being Judged
Are you one of the 50% who’ve been passed over because of your online presence? The scary thing is, you can’t even answer that question because you will never know.
I know privacy is becoming a thing of the past, but for the sake of your career you need to be mindful of how you portray yourself.
First off, ignoring LinkedIn, let’s focus instead on the personal social media channels. Are your profiles set to private? If not, have they been scrubbed clean of inappropriate content? Who do you allow to see your profiles from work and if everyone, including management, are you portraying yourself in a way that would discourage promotions? Are you even on social media, if you don’t have any online presence that could also be a problem.
LinkedIn is still important as well. Do you have a personal brand and is your LinkedIn in line with that? Is your profile set up and optimized to showcase you as a leader in your field and to be found by recruiters (giving you more control over the future of your career). Here is my Facebook live where I talked about this.
6. AI is Coming For Your Job
Maybe not everyone’s jobs but there are many jobs that are predicted to be impacted with some resulting in job changes and some resulting in the elimination of certain careers with the introduction of technology, robots and automation never mind Artificial Intelligence.
What can you do? Technology will never be able to cover the soft skills, that is why I focused on the soft skills YOU need to future proof your career in this article.
7. Pay Inequity Exists
Most of us know it, but not everyone truly believes it. But it does. Women make less, People of Colour make less, New Canadians make less. It sucks and it isn’t fair.
So much of it is rooted in ingrained belief systems that just do not hold up. It happens during the offer process when hiring managers just don’t see the person has deserving top dollar and it keeps happening during the performance reviews when those same managers again don’t see the value and therefore do not offer a big raise.
There isn’t much I can do as an individual except keep talking about it. What I do try to do is arm you with the best negotiation tips, tricks with articles and videos so that you can fight for your worth (even though you shouldn’t have to).
7 things that you don’t want to know about. But now that you do, you can come up with a plan. A plan to make sure that your career isn’t impacted by one (or more) of these 7 obstacles.
You know you want a change but are clueless as to what that change should be. To get some clarity, ask yourself these 3 questions:
1. What makes you happy?
2. What matters most to you right now?
3. What do I bring to the table?
Sara Curto helps people find a career they love by teaching them a new way to job search.
The Secrets to finding a job you love
Click HERE to watch