The past year has brought much change to the work landscape. COVID has either had a direct impact on our work or it has shifted our perspectives about work. Whether we have experienced outright job loss, had our work suspended due to lockdowns, whether we are navigating work from home, or re-thinking the value and meaning of a particular role or job, work and career look and feel different.
Through this year, we have also become acutely aware of the fragility of work, the job market, and just how dependent we are on having access to work.
It is one thing to prepare ourselves with training, education, experiences, and skills but we are also dependent on the other side of the equation, a robust and diverse job market that offers us access to opportunities and good work. Here too, COVID has exposed many cracks.
Fragility and stability
Not surprisingly, career transitions have been one of the most recurrent issues I have faced with clients in the past year. The fragility in many sectors of the job market, has also given rise to a heightened, and certainly understandable, desire to experience security in our work. This concern for security is now an added layer in my conversations with clients about career transitions.
More than ever, the clients I see want to make the RIGHT decision when it comes to a career transition. And yet they are also experiencing tremendous stress to make that one, RIGHT decision. As a result, clients are often paralyzed, unable to engage reflectively, to think creatively about what is possible, or to move forward by taking smaller incremental decisions.
Take a step back, pause for a moment
It is valuable to reflect and collect information. I encourage clients to collect information on their “personal position” and to re-assess their skills and expertise through a slightly different lens.
The more information they gather the greater they expand their perspective. This generates more material to work with and to leverage. This opens space to see more possibilities, to start making smaller decisions, and to start creating a map forward.
For those of you in the midst of a career transition, or contemplating one, or perhaps re-assessing the value and meaning of your current work, I have outlined some sample questions to help you to start gathering your own information.
What is your “personal position”?
- What is my current attitude toward work? At this stage in my life what expectations do I have of work/career?
- What do I value, what is important and meaningful to me – personally and professionally?
- How do I feel about a career transition? How do I feel about the changes a transition brings? Am I comfortable with these changes? Am I comfortable with a change in professional “identity”?
- How do I currently feel? Am I relaxed about a transition? Overly stressed? Am I aware of the different feelings I have? How am I coping day to day?
- How would I rate my level of motivation? How can I prepare myself for the time and energy a career transition may require?
- Do I have support around me, family, friends, mentors?
- What is my day-to-day reality? What other personal contexts influence my relationship with work? This may include burnout, financial or health considerations, childcare, or looking after aging parents.
- Is a career transition financially feasible? How long am I able to go without work? Is re-training or going back to school a possibility?
Gathering information about your skills and expertise
- List 5 – 6 of your innate or natural skills/capacities/talents.
- List 5 – 6 skills you have learned or developed through specific work experiences.
- Think about the different work/volunteer experiences you have had. When you look at these experiences cumulatively, what kind of unique and personal expertise have YOU developed from these diverse experiences?
- Think about your work experiences and imagine yourself in the various roles you have had. Describe “how” YOU work. What unique approach, attitude, style, perspective, and skills do you bring to your work? How do YOU bring a role “to life”, or put your personal stamp on what you are doing?
- What do you want to develop further and/or how do you want to contribute?
- Create a role for yourself. Let your imagination run. Be as descriptive as possible: what are you doing day to day, what responsibilities do you have, what does the workspace look and feel like, are you working on a team, independently, or a combination of the two? Re-read the role you have created, what information does it give you about your interests? Or which innate and learned skills you would like to be using at this stage of your life? What does it reveal about your motivation, “how” you work, and the personal meaning work holds for you?
Reflect on all the information you have gathered. Can you see and describe the unique value you currently have and the value you will be bringing to a prospective job/role?
Considering a career transition, re-assessing your current relationship with work, or wanting to re-evaluate your skills and expertise? Contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org to schedule a consultation or to book a session.