Choosing a new career path isn’t a decision that should be taken lightly. Considering that most of us spend more time at work in a week than we do with our friends and family – doing something that’s fulfilling and enjoyable is important for peace of mind and overall happiness. And we all want to be happy, right? I spoke to career coach Lucy Owens to find out more about picking the right career path, and the benefits of seeking professional advice.
What should someone think about when choosing a new career?
The most important thing to do is a bit of a stock take. Brainstorm and get inspired, go for walks and think about what you love doing, what you’re really good at, where you feel you make a difference and what motivates you.
You can do different questionnaires, you can look at SKILLcards or you can write stories about times in your life when you felt excited about what you were doing. Then when you’re really clear about what your top skills are and what really gets you going in the morning, you can start piecing things together.
Is it helpful to speak to someone who already works in a field that you are interested in?
Yes, that’s a brilliant idea – I tend to call that informational interviewing. It’s great because it gives you an insight into what that kind of work is like and how you might break into that industry. It can also be an opportunity to network. Once you explain what your strengths are and what you enjoy doing someone may be able to recommend a company to contact or even put you in touch with someone directly.
What about online resources?
There are a couple that I find useful. The Prospects website is a good starting point for graduates in any subject. It really gets you thinking about what your strong points are and identifies potential career paths that you can pursue.
Another cheeky favourite of mine is the 123 test. I like it simply because it’s a quick bit of careers inspiration. It allows you to select from a number of different jobs – the ones you’re most attracted to and the ones you’re least attracted to. You’re then given a skills profile with the skills that you’re strongest at in the areas you’re most interested in, followed by a list of possible careers that are connected with that profile.
Why is choosing a new career so important?
When you wake up every day and actually want to get out of bed and go to work, it makes a massive difference to everything around you – your personal life, your family life, your heart, your well-being, everything.
Why are career coaches useful?
If you’re very disciplined, reflective and able to think about what you’re good at and what floats your boat then you’re more than capable of doing this kind of stuff yourself. The difference is that if you work with a career coach you have someone to act as a sounding board. They can be a source of inspiration and guidance, and can challenge and support you.
What should someone look for in a potential career coach?
Somebody who can understand you and someone you can build rapport with. They should be enthusiastic and positive, but also frank and upfront rather than just telling you what you want to hear.