Get career change clarity
Are you dissatisfied with your job or considering a career switch? Before making any changes, it’s crucial that you know exactly what you want. Here are a few questions and exercises that will help you to gain clarity.
First things first: don’t rush into things – give yourself a few weeks to answer the following questions and then examine how you feel and what you’re looking for again after that.
Step 1: Where am I?
Start with a careful review of the present situation. Take a close look at your current job to assess what you really want and what should change. This will help you to recognise what motivates and demotivates you so that you can narrow down the need for change and the possibilities. After that, you can start searching for a sustainable solution. The great thing about this is that the better you know what you’re really looking for, the more likely you are to find it!
Here are some useful questions for this step:
- What do you like and dislike about your current job?
- What were your previous jobs like?
- Do your current tasks match your skills?
- Do you like the industry you’re in?
- Do you have good chemistry with your colleagues?
- Are the working conditions good?
- Are you satisfied with your salary?
- Are you in the right role?
- Do you act on your values, and can you bring them to bear in your job
These questions will help you to gain clarity about your specific need for change.
Step 2: What am I really good at?
Everyone is talented in their own way. Some people know exactly what their strengths are, while others are less sure about them. If you know your strengths and talents, you can use them to best effect in your job, which benefits everyone in the end. To discover your strengths, give the Reflected Best Self Exercise™ a try, which was developed by Robert Quinn and colleagues at the Center for Positive Organizational Scholarship. Choose five people from your circle of friends, acquaintances, colleagues or family. Ask them to name your strengths and specific examples that illustrate them. What are the moments, tasks and situations in which those around you feel you show your “best self”? Sort through the answers. Do you recognise patterns or recurring responses? Write these down and create your own strengths profile.
Another approach is the storytelling method. Write down a situation in which you mastered a minor or major challenge that you particularly enjoyed and which made you feel really satisfied and fulfilled afterwards. Read through your story and note down the skills that you recognise in yourself. What particular qualities helped you to overcome the challenge?
Step 3: Can I use my skills in the right way?
Now that you have clarity about your strengths, the next step is to find the job that matches them. Look at your tasks in your current job and think about the strengths you can use for them.
What is the result? Are you able to use your strengths fully, partially or not at all in your current job?
- What does this mean for your current job?
- Where could your skills ideally come into play?
- Which tasks would be better assigned elsewhere?
Not everything you are good at also brings you joy. Therefore, write down the five strengths you would like to use professionally.
Step 4: What are my interests?
The heaven-and-hell exercise is a great way to answer this question. Imagine the worst possible job for you in all its detail and describe it in writing (route to work, workplace, tasks, colleagues, managers, pay and so on). Then describe in writing the absolutely best job in just as much detail. After that, you will have a clearer picture of what you really want.
As mentioned above, the people you work with and the working atmosphere are also important factors. Pay special attention to your heaven-and-hell ideas in this area and compare these with your current job.
- Ask yourself the question: Are there certain topics you would like to deal with or industries that align with your values?
- If so, what are they?
Step 5: How much do I want to earn?
Finally, here are a few questions to help you to with the financial evaluation of possible career paths:
- What position are you aiming for in the short, medium and long term?
- What is the absolutely lowest pay you would accept?
- Assuming your dream job fell at your feet, what is the minimum pay that would be acceptable in the long run?
- What figure would you be more than satisfied with?
Write down how satisfied you are with your pay in your current position.
You’ve now thought intensively about yourself and your strengths, weighed them up and defined your wishes. You have a better insight into what you can and want to do. Finally, consider this question: is there anything specific you would like to change right now?
Yes? Then do it!