For over 100 years we have spoken about careers as something that resembles a ladder. It’s linear and goes up and up. The problem with this is it doesn’t resemble reality. It assumes everyone wants the same things from their career.
Careers today are full of change and ambiguity. Our jobs are also a large piece of our identity, which means to say a career is as unique as we are. It’s far more squiggly!
So… how can we think about the possibilities that your career could entail? Helen shared five tools 🙂
One. Scanning. Getting away from just thinking about job titles.
Give yourself permission to look at some job descriptions. But… it’s not what you think. You’re going to be data gathering 🙂
- First, do a really broad search for jobs in a field you might be interested in. Say ‘marketing’ or ‘culture’ or ‘innovation’. You can even make it a global search, the point isn’t to be looking for your new job here!
- Find 5-10 jobs that generally intrigue you (it doesn’t need to be more than that!).
- Go through each and find the phrases that you really like and that make you excited. It might be that having a ‘key role’ is important to you, or that ‘development’ is crucial.
- Do the same exercise but find the things that ‘turn you off’. The things you want to avoid.
- Review the phrases you highlighted and build them into criteria for your next role. This is a reframing exercise away from simply job titles – it’s about the things that matter to you!
This is also the answer to the question ‘where do you want to be in five years?’. Rather than answering with a job title, you can say – I would like to be in a job where I’m having a ‘key role’ in the businesses ‘development’!
Two. Spotting. Finding opportunities in/out of your industry and company
Moving companies to a job similar to your own aren’t always the only answer. There may be opportunities within the company you’re in, or even outside the industry you’re currently part of.
- Draw a 2 x 2 square. Titling the top axis of the square with your profession, and the left-hand side axis with your organisation. The subtitle for each box is ‘in’ and ‘out’. So you will have an ‘in the profession, in organisation’ box, and an ‘in the profession, out of company’ box and so on.
- For the ‘in the profession, in company’ box – think about what jobs exist in your profession and in your company. For example, if you’re in the SEO team now, could you move to the affiliates team?
- For the ‘in company, out of profession’ box – could you take a sideways move into a different function? Think about your talents – if you’re good with relationships, could you move into sales or HR, for example?
- Repeat the process for ‘out of the company, staying in the profession’ and ‘out of the company, out of profession’.
This exercise is all about opening your eyes to the possibilities that exist outside of the obvious career move idea.
Three. Scoping. Trying to look beyond the obvious next move.
This tool is all about curiosity. By asking yourself four simple questions, you give yourself the option to explore beyond the obvious next move like aiming (such as aiming for a promotion up the ladder). The questions are:
- What is the obvious next move?
- What would be the ambitious move?
- What would be a pivot?
- What would be the dream?
Four. Prototyping. Create the possibility, don’t wait!
Many of us are guilty of waiting for the next role to come to us. Prototyping is all about trying to create a bit of progress, momentum and energy behind the thing you want in your career.
Instead of thinking ‘what do I want’ (to be promoted) and ‘how do I get there’ (by being promoted) which can cause a waiting gap – instead, think about ‘what do I want’, then ‘why you want to do it’.
The answer to the why will provide you with some ideas of further ‘how’s’. For example:
- What do I want: a promotion
- Why do I want it: to create greater impact and have greater significance
- How do I get greater impact and significance?
By going through this process – you start working towards the main thing you want, but by approaching it in a smaller, more way than simply waiting for the big payoff.
Five. Steering. Finding a ‘North Star’ that feels meaningful for us.
Finding your guiding light – the thing you’re working towards can be difficult.
Helen recommended vision boarding is an exercise for working towards this.
Grab as many magazines as you can over two weeks and start ripping out the things that resonate.