Build Career Confidence
Today’s episode will feel like a mini-workshop, so I encourage you to get out a notebook and something to write with or use your favorite electronic device to jot down some notes.
The defining events of the last year have caused fundamental changes in the way we live and work. The COVID-19-related economic fallout has prompted a global recession and an unemployment rate not seen since the Great Depression. Many of those fortunate to remain employed nevertheless are burdened with uncertainty. And they may have been unhappy, to begin with, given Gallup’s reports that two-thirds of American workers remain disengaged at work.
The work experience for many people is uncertain, unsettling, and uninspired. Constant career change already was the norm, but the number of workers currently in transition has dramatically spiked. People at all career stages are asking themselves questions like:
- “How can I thrive in such an uncertain world of work?”
- “How can I find more meaning and purpose in my job?” and
- “What should I do next?”
More than ever, people need serious help in their work lives. The good news is that support is available. I provide my clients with evidence-based and clinically tested strategies to help them discern the right work by understanding their gifts, identifying or creating new opportunities, and even transforming their current job and experiencing more meaning and purpose in their work.
More than 20 million Americans are unemployed, many from small businesses that have shuttered and are unlikely to come back. For unemployed adults, depression and anxiety are common and prominent.
I help my clients build a sense of hope and reemerge with a newfound sense of direction and purpose. I help them identify the skills needed to obtain new and exciting employment opportunities. I provide practical strategies to help them navigate constant change and uncertainty.
Disengagement at Work
Of those who remain employed, more than 70% report they’re disengaged at work. Many feel trapped in a job that doesn’t fit. I help women in the workforce re-evaluate their current circumstances and take an active approach to craft their jobs to move them into closer alignment with their strengths and values.
Unprecedented and Constant Change
The average adult in the U.S. has held 12 jobs by age 50. With COVID-19 restrictions serving to accelerate recent disruptive trends (working from home, automation, the gig economy), change in the world of work is very much the rule, not the exception. And emerging adults are struggling more than ever to find their way in the world. I help guide them from a place of indecision and uncertainty toward a stronger sense of purpose.
This year’s focus has been coaching my client’s around how to create the career that they truly want, and with the complications of a pandemic, it’s also been about helping them find direction and purpose. AND they will all tell you that it is a process. It takes dedicated time and a willingness to dive deep into who you are to discover what lights you up, even on a Monday morning.
AND let’s be honest, a Monday morning is a Monday morning. I’m rarely at my best on a Monday morning; however, when I get to my desk with my hot cup of fresh coffee, I’m ALL in and happy to be there.
If you are NOT happy when you get to your desk with a fresh hot cup of coffee, then something has got to change! Life is too short to dread Mondays, plus your work, that my friend is an unplanned route to self-destruction and misery.
We spend 90 percent of our daily lives doing routine tasks. But habit can be a bad thing because “if you keep on doing what you’ve always done, you’re going to keep on getting what you’ve always got.”
Your Career Trail Guide to Build Career Confidence
One of the most important things you can do is to take time to do some planning. I use many metaphors with my coaching clients, and one that comes up often is the career trail that I am guiding them down. It helps them to visualize where they’re at, where they want to go, and what exactly they need to get to their final destination. If you’re one of my clients listening right now, you will recognize that I may have helped you reach your goal of climbing a 14er.
Whether you want to change jobs — or careers — in the new year or simply get more joy out of your current job, a career plan, a trail guide, is essential to helping you reach your goals.
This 5-Step exercise may take you 20-30 minutes, or you might devote a few hours to planning where you want to be on New Year’s Day. If you want your life to be different in 2021, especially your work life, take the time to work on your career plan.
If you want me to be your guide, let me know, and I will set aside time to create this with you – it will accelerate the process and give you everything you need to plot your course, including the obstacles you will face along the way.
Step One: INVESTIGATE
The first step is to do some investigation into where you are. To figure out where you’re going, you must first look at where you’ve been.
Here are some questions to help you investigate where you are:
- What are you most proud of this past year, personally and professionally?
- What went right this year? We all know what went wrong in 2020 – for this planning exercise, focus on what went right for you?
- Did you receive any awards or recognition this year?
- Did you take on any additional responsibility this year? If so, what?
- How did you take the initiative in your job this year?
- Have you learned any new skills?
- Did you earn any certifications or licenses?
Record this information in your career profile or a success journal. It can be a Microsoft Word file on your computer, a note in Evernote, or even a physical notebook. Take time every, to record your accomplishments, instead of waiting until the end of the year.
Next, look at opportunities for improvement in your career.
Are you getting paid what you’re worth?
Is your current position in alignment with your priorities and your core values? Where is the change needed so that you feel a greater level of satisfaction?
Step Two: DIG YOUR HEELS IN
Decide what you want. Spell it out: What does it look like; what does it feel like? You have to want to invest the time and energy to follow your dream.
Dig your heels in and do some work to describe your ideal job:
- What is your ideal employer? (size, industry, culture, location, structure) Maybe you want to be an entrepreneur?
- How much would your dream job pay? (Realistically)
- What are the most important benefits — other than salary — that would prompt you to work for a new company?
- Describe your ideal job — the position you would most like to have. What is the job title, responsibilities, who would report to you and report to you? Would it involve travel? Do you want to work independently, as part of a team, or both? Do you like short-term projects or long-term projects?
- What do you want your next job to do for you that your last job didn’t do? In other words, what will be different about your next job? Is there anything you do in your current job that you don’t want to do in your next job?
Think about the person that you want to be and imagine the possibilities. I have a Career Revival Plan for you if you need help clarifying your priorities or identifying what you genuinely want MORE from your work. It’s called 3 Steps to Revive Your Career, and I’ll be sure to provide a link to access this resource in the show notes.
I want you to identify your TOP 3 Priorities and 2-3 goals you want to achieve in 2021 and be specific.
For example, let’s imagine you have worked as an accountant for the past three years, but you want to work in marketing. Your goal might be: “By Jan. 1, 2022, I will be working as a Marketing Manager in a Fortune 500 company.”
It would help if you also wrote down why you are interested in making the change. In other words, what is your motivation for taking this path? Another good question to ask yourself is, “How will I know when I’ve achieved my goal(s)?”
Step Three: THINK AHEAD
Take time to think ahead about how you will reach your goal. But don’t use thinking as an excuse to procrastinate. You want to get to Step Four as quickly as possible because actions create momentum, AND taking action will grow your confidence!
Take each of your goals and write down the list of steps under each of them that you will need to take to make the dream happen. The more individual steps you can map out, the easier it will be for you to reach your goals. The steps should be practical tasks that will lead you to achieve the goal.
For example, with our goal of making a career change from accounting to marketing, here are some sample steps:
- Research job postings for entry-level marketing jobs. What are the skills, education, and experience required?
- Join the American Marketing Association and attend one virtual event or in the next 90-120 days.
- Enroll in a semester-long online marketing course focusing on marketing principles.
- Identify a volunteer opportunity to put marketing skills into practice — either in your current job or with a community organization.
- Assess transferable skills from accounting that would be useful in marketing roles (project management, analysis, financial management, client relations).
- Work with a career coach and professional résumé writer to create a targeted marketing résumé.
- Join three marketing-related groups on LinkedIn and follow 5-6 Fortune 500 companies in the area with company profiles on LinkedIn.
- Assemble people in your network to act as references for marketing interviews.
- Connect with 2-3 contacts at Fortune 500 companies in the area.
- Identify possible employers and submit résumés.
Give yourself milestones so you can measure your progress. How will you know when you’re on the right track? Include specific dates and numbers in your milestones.
Step Four: GET GOING
With the tasks you’ve outlined in Step Three, this gives you a checklist of items to use to get going! If you are working through the steps and discover you need to add additional items, update your task list. You may also discover other projects that need completion to make the next step — and the overall goal — easier to accomplish. You may also find that you need to make adjustments to your timeline.
For example, suppose you discover that a six-month program to learn about social media would help you land your new marketing job. In that case, you might adjust your goal deadline to May 1, 2021, if the program won’t end until late February. It would give you time to put some of the new skills into practice before putting them on your résumé.
As you work your way through your task list, focus on your actions, realizing that these should eventually lead to the results you seek if you are making the right moves. If you’re not getting the results you want, change the plan, not the goal. Re-examine your tasks and see if there is something you are missing.
It can also be helpful to get outside feedback. Enlisting the help of an accountability partner —a certified career coach or résumé writer— can provide a valuable perspective on your progress. This individual can also keep you on track, making sure you are working through your task list. And if there is a specific area where you need help to cross the task off your list, make sure you ask for assistance.
For example, writing a résumé to support a career change can be difficult. Enlisting the help of a professional résumé writer can help you cross that task off your list, and imagine how great that will feel!!!
Step Five: ASSESS YOUR PROGRESS
When you’re on a journey, it can help to periodically assess where you are to make sure you’re on the right trail. If you miss a step along the way — or take a “wrong turn” — you can find yourself a long way from your intended destination.
So, plan periodic assessments of your progress along the way. It can be a monthly “check-up” to review your plan and make any necessary changes or a quarterly review.
I love providing these review sessions with my clients. It can give them just the right dose of a boost if needed or validation and celebration for how far they have come.
Taking the time to think through — and plan out — your career plan (trail guide) is an essential step in helping you create the work you want and enjoy. If you don’t, you may find your career stuck or stalled. Or you may wake up five years from now and wonder, “How did I get here?”
So, let’s get started with your career planning and strategies to build your career confidence. Let’s Chat!
We can carve out an entire day or half-day together to do just that. All eyes on YOU, and we put our heads together and plan for your bright future. Doesn’t that sound fantastic! I think so.
Alright, until next time, And I DO look forward to hearing from YOU—Be Career Confident!
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