Unhappy with your job ?
3 ways to match your interests and skills to change career paths.
There’s no denying it: America is one of the world’s primary superpowers. Our increasing technologies; the high quality of post-secondary education; the sheer drive that most citizens have to go out and make a difference. But when you think about how Americans are raised with an emphasis on ambition, there’s a notable difference between the United States and other countries. Americans are really, really young when they’re supposed to choose which career they’d like to have. We can’t yet legally walk into a bar and order anything, but we’re expected to decide what we’d like to be doing for the next few decades.
Clearly, not all career choices pan out, especially not in an economy that’s no longer predictable. Maybe you began in a publishing house, but your position became obsolete with the rise of digital reading. Or maybe you started in an apprenticeship-based role, but you now feel you need something more challenging. No matter what the circumstances, most people have a similar objective: Which type of job will make me happy to be there each day?
A common mistake many Americans make is confusing this question with, What do I love to do? What you love to do and what you’d be happy doing every day for most days of the year are not necessarily interchangeable. Consider your main after-work hobby. Say, for example, it’s reading film reviews. Do you enjoy it so much that you’d be happy to read film reviews all day, every day, or do you enjoy it precisely because it’s your downtime? If you threw a schedule, deadlines, a boss, and coworkers into the mix, would you still enjoy reading film reviews, or would you find an entirely different hobby to decompress after a long workday? It’s worth thinking about when trying to match your interests and skills with a career so that you don’t end up ruining a passion rather than creating a new one.
So how should you pinpoint which interests or skills will help you make your next career move? The key is to cast your net wide—in other words, don’t get too specific. If your interest was piqued when organizing a recent bake sale for your child’s school, don’t think, “How will I implement myself into an event-planning role?” Think in broader terms of, “Okay, I’m a great manager. Which types of positions will allow me to oversee a team while working toward a larger goal?” Some key tips:
- Don’t limit your search history – When reevaluating your skills and interests, it’s often easy to think back only a few years—after all, we’re most familiar with what we’ve currently been doing. But don’t limit your reflection to your last five years of working. Try to look back even to your school days: What were your extracurricular activities? What were your strong points when interacting with peers? How did you behave during group projects? Understanding our fundamental preferences means figuring out where they came from.
- Ask friends and family – We consult them on everything else. Relationships, breakups, children, vacations, life in general. Why would we stop at our careers? Your friends and family often know you best, so ask for their opinions on which environments you work best in. There’s a good chance they see qualities in you that you’ve overlooked.
- Put yourself out there – And not just on internet job boards. Really get involved in the community by trying new activities or sports. Don’t keep passing up on the yoga classes your brother’s been inviting you to; try the cooking course now that a new session has started. Being open to new things is a way to reveal previously unseen layers of yourself. It’s also a form of real-life networking. The new acquaintance you’ve made at Euchre Night may know someone who’s looking to fill a position within their office.
Don’t just consider this a journey to finding a new career. Realize how helpful it is to learn more about yourself, especially as you enter a new phase of your working life. If your next role still isn’t the one you’d like, you’ll have had this period of growth to be that much more prepared when you’re back at the drawing board. And like you’ll learn with any career, experience is key.
Kim Ikemia Arrington is Executive Career Advisor, courage connoisseur and Founder/CEO of Courageant Consulting. Kim has been featured on Fox 5, CBS News and News Channel 8 in the Washington, DC, area as the go-to recruiting lead for large organizations. For several years she’s been the hiring powerhouse behind The Washington Post, Comcast Corporation, ICF International and several federal agencies throughout the United States.
Kim thrives on equipping her clients with industry secrets and tools to master and manage their career search, accomplish their career goals and obtain the courage to fulfill their dreams. She enjoys guiding her clients to “GET SEEN. GET HEARD. GET HIRED.” However, her ultimate goal is to lead the masses to living their dream life in work and business by
DOING WHAT THEY LOVE AND LOVING WHAT THEY DO!