Friday, August 3, 2012

If it Ain't Broke don't Fix It

Really…that above statement only applies to home improvement!   Far too often individuals are forced to choose jobs based on survival.  While some of these jobs may be good enough to pay the bills, the sense of having a fulfilling career seems to cause inner conflict.  When this is the case, the need for change eventually takes over, but there’s a problem.  Some feel it may be too late to change, which is definitely not true.  To assist in alleviating or preventing these issues from occurring, this article will show you how to be more intentional in your career design.  Now grab your blue print and sketch pencil as we get to work! 

Changing careers can be intimidating, so if you’re currently considering it I’ll be the first to applaud you!  During your career planning process it is possible you find another position you end up not enjoying.  That’s perfectly fine.  You may have to shift a few times until it’s the right fit.  However, I strongly discourage frequent changes because you don’t want to raise red flags about dependability and stability.

Before you quit your current position, I have listed key components that you should consider during the transition.  After following the steps provided you will have a better understanding of your personal needs and goals in order to make effective decisions throughout your career planning. They will help you successfully chart your quest for your next career move.  

1     Your reason for change
There are several factors that prompt individuals to consider changing their jobs and/or careers.  Such as:
  •         Pay
  •         Lack of motivation/challenge
  •         Growth promotion
  •         Risk of unemployment
  •         Unclear expectations of roles/responsibilities

Understanding your specific reason for change is your first step to deciding the next move in your career.  Considering my own personal decisions to change jobs in the past, this list could have extended thru the end of the screen! 
    Target your next move
Make a list of career titles you’re interested in or have considered in the past.  (If you only have one or two job titles of interest, skip to next step because you’ve already narrowed down your list.)  Rank them 1 thru 6; number one being your first choice and the rest following according to preference.

3   Research
Investigate each career you listed above.  Are your current skills sufficient?  Are there any current openings in your preferred region or will it require you to relocate?  What is the level of education required? 

     Identify your skills 
Consider the skills and experience you currently use that are also transferrable to your next position.  For example, decision making, repairing cars, fixing computers, teaching children, the ability to easily establish a rapport with others, etc. 

Resume:  Get your résumé out of storage!  Update your personal information, relevant skills and experience, any education and training that you’ve done since last using your résumé. 
Cover letter:  Please DO NOT forget your cover letter.  That is just as important to be specifically geared to the proposed position(s).
Training/Education:  Enroll if necessary into a training program to update any skills needed.  Could you benefit from a course, a certification, or a degree?

    Establish a goal
Give yourself a deadline for each stage as well as when you plan to be in your next position.  Looking for a new job is a full-time process so set aside scheduled times to devote to this entire process.  Whatever your goal, it is possible and understand that everyone will arrive to their goal differently.

     Let your current job “work” for you
Ask for extended responsibilities that are associated with the role you plan on pursuing next.  Short example: After graduating with my Bachelor of Art degree in Psychology, the only position I could really qualify for based mostly on my experience was administrative work.  For that reason I accepted an administrative position in a psychiatric clinic and also a volunteer position as a crisis intervention specialist so I could begin to build my counseling skills.  It took two years but I built my experience and ended up securing my first paid counseling role.  With each subsequent position in my career, I’ve strategically planned my escape.  In a few cases, I’ve even changed industries.

8Begin your transition
Your next career move starts now!  Your goal has been established and you have identified what is needed to get you there appropriately.  Don’t be discouraged by how much work may be needed in preparation for your next level just be encouraged that you’ll soon be meeting your career objective.  If you think you need more personalized focus and advice, contact a career advisor (see my contact info below) for individualized guidance.
Good luck!  This CANNOT be an overnight decision or quick modification.  Just remember from this point moving forward to be intentional with every aspect of your life, especially your education and career.  With the information you now have, your transitions should be a bit easier.  In your new awareness you will be preparing for your next role from the very beginning!

By: Tamara Cherry-Clarke

Tamara Cherry-Clarke has a Bachelor of Art degree in Psychology from Norfolk State University, Norfolk, Virginia.  With a work history that expands over 19 years, Tamara has been helping individuals achieve their academic and career goals since 2003.  She has worked as an educational counselor, adjunct instructor, and career counselor at Old Dominion University’s Research Foundation, Lake Michigan College, and Indiana University (South Bend).  Currently, she is an Academic and Career Advisor for the College of Southern Maryland but dedicates a great majority of her time to her local community volunteering as a job coach.

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