Monday, 4 April 2011

Choosing a new career direction

How come you're looking for a new career direction?

You may be reading this page because you’re experiencing the void that redundancy has left in your life, or maybe you’ve just survived the latest corporate cull and want to get some ideas before you’re next in line.  Maybe you've achieved all your goals and want go to the next level, if only you knew what that might be? It could be that you are just fed up, and wonder how you ever ended up in your current job.

Well if you're standing at the career crossroads wondering where to go next and you don't want your next step to be as risky and random as a game of roulette - read on! It's easy at the moment to get disheartened because the job market isn't so hot but that makes structured career planning even more important.

The ancient Chinese Philosopher Confucius said 'Find a job you enjoy and you'll never work a day in your life' So, if you're at a career crossroads wondering where to go next - read on! 

What do you dream of being?

Could you realise an old dream? Is it time to think of some new ones? Apparently, Comedian Ricky Gervais always wanted to be a scientist, Fawlty Towers' star Prunella Scales until she was eight wanted to be a ballet dancer, Radio 2 DJ Mark Radcliff always dreamed of playing drums on Top of the Pops, This Morning star Fern Britton wanted to be a dolphin trainer  and Sprinting legend Linford Christie wanted to be a pilot. Funny how life turns out isn't it?

Our Top Ten Tips

1. Start planning - to make career changes for the better, you need a good plan because it helps you to become more optimistic and focused and more likely to stand out to recruiters.

2. Pin down what you really want - it can take a bit of soul searching to answer but until you have some firm conviction around it, it is hard to build a winning plan to achieve your goals, however modest or ambitious there may be. It's an essential not a luxury so if you need some inspiration check out our top tips on great books on career management - 'What colour is my parachute', 'How to get a job you'll love' or 'The Career Change Handbook' are perennial favourites.

3. Give yourself some thinking space - the best ideas usually come when you’re relaxed. So, don’t forget that your next brilliant career brainwave might come when you’re down at the gym, walking the dog or making your supper - not sitting at a desk staring at a blank sheet of paper thinking about how much you dislike your boss. Once you have the desire to achieve your real goals, you'll be unstoppable. Don't panic, stick an 'everything but the kitchen sink' CV online and hope your dreams will come true - you must be more focused than that.

4. Focus on 'why' not 'how' - never worry about the 'how' you're going to get to where you want to be before you've figured out the 'why' or you could come up with a brilliant solution which still doesn't actually tick all your boxes, or you'll just talk yourself out of all kinds of quite sensible (or daring) career options before you've even started. We are so programmed to believe that we are doing the right thing if we are taking action that unfortunately we don’t always stop to think. To think about whether these suitable sounding jobs are in fact right for us. Will they make good use of our skills & abilities and do they match our interests and our values? You won't make good career decisions if you don’t ask the right questions first.

5. Plan in stages - first understand yourself and your needs, secondly visualise your future, thirdly start writing your plan down .

6. Understand yourself - examine your motivations, interests and skills. If you are a bit of an 'act now - think later' type you may find this hard to do at first, but apply some self discipline and stick with it. If you are prone to 'navel gazing and indecision' you will find it hard too, just in a different way. Get a friend or a coach to help you if necessary.

7. Be honest about your current job and future needs - does your current job make you feel happy, fulfilled, challenged, completely strung out or just bored senseless? What do you actually enjoy about work? The company? The prestige? The perks? The money? The admiration? Feeling appreciated or useful? The sense of achievement? The intellectual challenge? Plodding along or pushing new boundaries? Working alone or working in a team? The drama and gossip or a quiet life? Mapping out the things which make you love or loathe the job will help you to think about your options before you start to concern yourself about how to achieve them.

8. Visualise your future - here is your chance to use your imagination to describe a picture of what you want for your life and career if there were no constraints! So, what are your choices? Where do you want to work? What do you want to do? How do you want to be rewarded? If the answers aren't immediately clear or seem too daunting or impossible, don't be put off. Keep at it and if you stay focused you'll be amazed at how apparent coincidences start to occur.

9. What have you got to offer? Make a list of your skills and your personal qualities that make you worth employing? It will do wonders for your confidence, help you identify any genuine gaps and help recruiters to place you in the right job.

10. Start writing your plan down - use a note book, carry it around with you and be prepared for the ideas to start forming from  there. Try talking to others about your plan, it helps to clarify it in your own mind and may generate ideas and offers of help. Someone might give you a lead to an opportunity they think would be perfect for you. Make sure that when your plan has crystallised enough (but not before!) that it includes the following: What you are actually going to do, how you are going to do it, when you are going to do it, what help you will need to do it, some idea or measure of what success will look like.

So, don't hang about and get cracking. Before you know it, you will have that great new job!
What now?

Well, don't hang about and get cracking. Before you know it, you will have a new life and, if the feedback we get is anything to go by, it could be much better than you'd dared to hope it could be!

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