Are You Really Choosing Your Career?
Keys to career choice and change so a career doesn't choose you--you choose your ideal career
Are you really choosing your career? Or are you just falling into a career box because it’s there?
“Project manager wanted—2 years exp. min. BA, experience in health care” —As someone who has done some project management looking for work, you may ask yourself if your 2 years experience might be enough or your 7 years might make you overexperienced and if your experience in health care is what is really wanted.
Those are good questions if you’ve decided already that the job you are thinking about is what YOU want, fitting in with YOUR career vision.
Otherwise, you are just trying to fit you into some preset category that continues a career path you are on, that you may never have liked. In that case, the career is choosing you. You are trying to fit yourself into the right checkboxes. Do that throughout your career and all your job changes and you will increase your authority and expertise and income. But will you be happy in your work life? Will you really be choosing your career and setting up a career vision to pursue?
It’s not that you shouldn’t look at job postings or shouldn’t pay attention to your skills or ignore what organizations want and need. Not at all. Those are critical. It’s just a question of when.
If you want a career you’ll love, a meaningful and exciting career, you first must figure out what you want, what your career vision is. Then, you can map a basic plan to succeed with your vision. Only then will you have the background and knowledge to see what jobs to apply for now, whether as stopgap measures as you earn money for education (for instance) or as learning opportunities to enjoy now and move you toward your final career vision.
I see many career coaching clients who haven’t done this at all. They begin choosing a career instead with their skills and financial needs, ignoring what feels meaningful and challenging and passionate. They don’t think they can have all those characteristics at work.
But that’s because they’ve never made a strong creative effort to really explore what it is they’d love to do and the alternative ways to make that happen. They’ve allowed what they now know is true about their skills and experience and what job sites are telling them is needed to run their thinking and their lives. After starting fresh with the right questions in the right order, they find yes they can become chefs, technical writers, trainers, entrepreneurs and art promoters.
You need to look at job postings, but make sure you do it in the right order—after you know your career vision and direction.