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"If we choose to be no more than clods of clay, then we shall be used as clods of clay for braver feet to tread on." - Marie Corelli

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Choosing a New Career Path
By Sue Campbell, 1st-Writer.com

Jane Doe faced weekday mornings (especially Mondays) with real regret. She sat at her kitchen table until the very last moment, wishing it were the weekend, before driving her car to work. She was grateful for every red light that delayed her trip. She pulled into the office parking lot, felt her jaw clench, and mentally counted the hours until she could return to her car and leave again.

She felt as though she'd been sentenced to punishment with no hope of reprieve. There was no early release program for good behavior, no great perks or pats on the back for earnest efforts, no hope of financial advancement that might allow her some sense of working her way out of a miserable situation.

She had bills to pay. She had people at home depending on her. She'd remind herself of all these things as she parked her car in the business lot and turned off the ignition. She'd will herself out of the car, walk up to the front door, and face another day at a job she didn't enjoy.

The Jane Doe in this story may be the receptionist at a busy medical office, or she might be the doctor. She might be the waitress at your favorite restaurant, or the CEO of a prosperous company. She may hold any job, make any salary amount, be of any age, and still be miserable. No matter what job circumstances you envision for her, the fact is Jane feels stuck, with no way out.

Whenever Jane considered changing her career path, her first thought was always a self-imposed wall, "I can't, I have to do THIS JOB, because. . ." Jane could find lots of reasons why she couldn't do something to change her career, her life. But remember: "If we choose to be no more than clods of clay, then we shall be used as clods of clay for braver feet to tread on." - Marie Corelli. Excuses never move you forward.

Jane considered her obstacles. She considered that maybe she was too old to make a change; or that she'd already invested too much money in an education in a different direction. She also had bills to pay, dependents to care for, obligations to meet. Jane had done "this work" for so long she couldn't imagine anyone hiring her to do something - anything - different.

The world is full of people who have followed their dreams instead of building walls. They came to realize that, with time, thought, determination, and help, they could make their dreams come true. Finally, Jane came to realize that she too could change her life by BELIEVING it was possible.

What comes after "believing?" Exploring the possibilities (see a good list of self-evaluating questions you can ask... yourself). Jane needed to have a goal in mind in order to learn how to move closer to it. To successfully begin her exploration, she had to believe that every door was wide open to her. She needed to stop worrying about what she was "qualified" to do, because that would have impeded her efforts, and begin “believing” that all things are possible. So she allowed herself to wonder, "What kind of job would make me excited to get out of bed on Monday mornings?"

She began her exploration by finding out what kinds of jobs were currently "out there." She started with her local newspaper and Internet classified ads. Along with various job titles, she learned some of the hiring criteria and responsibilities that went along with these positions. She started her “explore list” with job titles and notes on what interested her about each one.

Jane then took that list to the local public library. The librarian directed her to various reference guides and books on careers, most notably The Occupational Outlook Handbook. This book gave her information regarding what the different jobs entailed, what the work environments were like, what criteria was needed for employment, and what kind of salary ranges she could expect. As she read through the various job descriptions, she found that some of the job titles on her explore list really didn't fit her interests, so she crossed them off. At the same time, she located other positions that were more appealing, so she added these to the list. As her list grew, she paid particular attention to what jobs captured her interest. She envisioned herself in these jobs, and felt her excitement grow.

Jane took the time to consider what was important to her in her work environment, work function, and level of responsibility. She asked herself, "Do I prefer working alone, or as part of a team?" "Do I prefer to work with few functions and little change, or do I want variety?" "Do I like quiet environments, or active ones?" "Do I aspire towards a leadership role, or do I want to support the leadership?" "Do I enjoy creative work?" These issues were important and helped her to judge the potential jobs in her explore list ~ how these possible career selections measured up to her real interests, talents and personal characteristics.

She also considered what she was already good at. For example, she was very good at working with numbers, but didn’t enjoy it. She considered other issues, such as, "Would I be willing to relocate for a job?" "Would I be willing to travel, and how much?" Choosing a sales position, for example, might require more traveling than she wanted; or, it might be disruptive to her obligations at home. She decided which issues were non-negotiable and which were flexible. She used this information to narrow down her list to those positions that offered the greatest potential for future growth and long-term happiness.

At this point, it felt overwhelming yet exciting to consider changing from an unhappy career path to a brighter career future. To reinforce her belief that achieving her goals was possible, Jane kept one simple truth in mind: CHANGE TAKES TIME. She was on her way to recognizing the possibilities and creating a new career future, instead of building walls or maintaining a passive resignation.

Every goal has at least one path leading to it, often several. Jane began to think of how she could discover these paths. First, she talked to people currently doing the type of work she wanted to do, and learned how they got there. This may sound more intimidating than it is. Most people enjoy talking about themselves and are very willing to share their experiences. Jane also talked to people who hire the people doing the type of work she wanted to do. She asked these hiring managers what skills and experiences they look for in the candidates they hire. She also asked them if they could recommend "stepping stone" positions she could take now that would help her to build the skills and experiences she'd need for future jobs and to achieve her ultimate career goal.

Jane also talked to college counselors, career experts, and members of a professional association related to the positions and industries she wanted to target. Through these contacts Jane gained a network of professionals who were interested in her commitment to her future, and were willing to help her.

With all this information, Jane knew she could depend on her own powers of brainstorming to think of ways she could gain the skills and experiences she needed to reach her goal. She knew what skills she currently possessed, and she knew what skills she needed to gain. This allowed her to ascertain “stepping stone” positions she could take now that would eventually help her to achieve her ultimate goals. She thought of jobs that would allow her to use what she already knew, but would also give her an opportunity to add, build, or learn skills that she'd need for her future career. Jane created a job hunting business card that helped her build new contacts, utilize her growing network and generate potential opportunities.

To avoid financial difficulties, Jane considered keeping her full-time job and gaining the skills she needed through part-time work or by offering her services voluntarily to an organization that had meaning to her. In this way, she could exchange her services a few hours a week for the opportunity to learn necessary skills and apply them. She also considered an apprenticeship position, learning the ropes (even without pay) along side a good mentor, shortening the path to her final destination by taking a hands-on learning approach.

Because Jane selected goals that were fulfilling, exciting, fun, and challenging, she knew the learning process would be enjoyable. She also realized that it could give her an early opportunity to learn whether this type of work did, or did not, measure up to her expectations.

Today, Jane Doe finds herself eager to head to her new full-time job, even on Monday mornings. She hasn't reached her ultimate goal yet, but she's much closer to it. She's doing work she enjoys, learning new skills, and feeling a sense of real accomplishment.

Jane truly feels that she's contributing. She's had to cut some corners to make the temporary decrease in salary work with her financial obligations, but she's never been happier. New co-workers share her interests and appreciate her efforts. Her employer says she has great potential and is glad she's on his team. Her success has no limits. She now encourages others to identify and pursue their goals, and is frequently overheard telling friends and family, "You just need to believe it." (Self-evaluation, a conversation to have... with yourself.)

Should I Hire a Professional Resume Writer?  /  1st-Writer.com Services

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Good luck in your job search! Sue Campbell, 1st-Writer.com - over 15 years experience helping clients achieve their career and business goals. Feel free to e-mail me with any questions you may have. I'll be glad to help!

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This page last updated: 01/20/2012