If you clicked on this article, then you have some degree of doubt about whether you're in the right profession. Would you like to get rid of that doubt? Then let me tell you a story...
The year was 2001.
After a career in corporate recruiting and HR, I couldn't watch people suffer at work anymore. Years of dealing with disgruntled, disengaged people had me wondering, "What is wrong with our society and its approach to work?" I became a career coach so I could help people understand how to find career success and satisfaction on their own terms. I wanted to stop the insanity.
However, back then, working with a career coach was taboo. You didn't tell anyone about it. People thought is was a sign of failure. I remember going to a party one time and telling some people I had become a career coach. They giggled and said, "Oh, you must work with some serious losers." AND YET, several of those people suddenly called me out of the blue when they were experiencing troubles at work. They asked me not to tell anyone. That's when I made it my mission to get rid of the stigma associated with using a career coach.
I would respond: "Pro athletes and executives use them, so why shouldn't you?"
Over time, I started to really preach the importance of performance coaching. When people snickered about career coaching, I would ask them, "Do you use a doctor, dentist, lawyer, accountant, financial planner, or personal trainer?" They always said "yes," to which I asked, "Why do you do that?" When they explained they needed the expert's help to get the results they wanted, I would say, "Why is using one one to get the results you want in your career any different? Pro athletes and executives use them, so why shouldn't you?"
Here's the real reason you (likely) made the wrong career choice.
It's taken me over 15 years of writing articles and creating educational Youtube videos to convince people it's normal and smart to seek career coaching. In that time, I've engaged with thousands of people. Most of whom are afraid the biggest professional mistake they've made is choosing the wrong career path. And, here's the sad reality. They usually have. Why? Because they didn't have all the information they needed at the time to make the right one. Think about it: how many of us are truly equipped with enough life experience, self-knowledge, and information about suitable careers in our teens? In our twenties? Or, even in our thirties? Ask anyone who has gotten a college degree in one field, only to realize a few years later they don't want to be doing that anymore and they'll confirm what I'm saying. Today, there are an endless number of career options - many of which didn't exist 10 years ago. Plus, the workplace is changing at crazy rate. Thus, if you haven't been getting consistent career coaching, you've likely made career choices you regret. The result? Feeling like you stumbled into your career path instead of being in control of it.
So, what should you do now?
Knowledge is power. The following steps will help choose the right career path:
1) Determine how you prefer to add value in the workplace. We are no longer employees. Today, every job is temporary. That means we're really all businesses-of-one who must sell their services to customers (a/k/a employers), multiple times in our lifetime. Knowing how you save or make a company money to justify hiring you is key. But, knowing how you prefer to deliver that type of value is what will make you feel good on the job each day.
2) Get clear on your professional strengths and preferences. Your communication style, work style, learning preferences, unique gifts, life priorities, passions and interests, etc. - they all make up a one-of-a-kind professional profile. The more you know about yourself, the easier it is to narrow the choices and lock in on roles that will suit you. It also will make it much easier for you to explain to employers why you are a perfect fit for their job.
3) Understand what companies/industries/jobs you're actually drawn to and why. Until now, job search has been like going to the junkyard and picking out a used car. You tried to pick the best one from a sea of less-than-exciting options. However, truly satisfied professionals flip the process around. They create an interview bucket list of employers they admire and then use their personal connection to the company's products or services to get hired.
4) Become a master at networking and informational interviewing. Today, your network is your network. Almost all jobs are gotten via referral. Someone knows someone who works at the company you admire. Once you build your interview bucket list, figuring out how to build a network that connects you to them gets SO. MUCH. EASIER. Then, it's just a matter of connecting and having meaningful conversations with people about the work they do. Suddenly, they're introducing you to their boss, or the department head of the division you want to work for. If you've ever heard someone say, "I wasn't looking for a job, this just fell in my lap," you can thank their networking skills for their success.
Let's be honest, this is where I'm going to lose most of you...
If the above sounds like work, it is. It's not rocket science, it just takes some consistent effort. And, it's also why most of you reading this won't end up doing anything about your career dissatisfaction. You see, here's the other thing I've learned in a decade and a half as a career coach: you don't have to be the smartest person to succeed in finding a satisfying career, you just need to be willing to work at it every day until you get there. Hence, the name of my company, Work It Daily. Those who are willing to invest time every single day in getting smarter about how they manage their careers are the ones who succeed. Studies show the average American spends over an hour a day on Facebook. Imagine what would happen if you peeled off 10 minutes of your social media time each day and put it towards learning how to take control of your career?
So, what's it going to be?
It's a new year. Isn't it time you got off auto-pilot and found the career happiness you want and deserve? Or, are you going to watch all those famous pro athletes and top business people you admire and say, "I wish I was them." The choice is yours.