Dear Coach Joan: Career Advice
I’m confused. I’ve had 4 jobs in the last 15 years and none of them seem right to me. I’m in my late 30s and I feel there must be a better way for me to spend my working hours. I have a bachelor’s degree and always earned good job reviews, but my life is focused on TGIF. I can’t wait for the weekend, and want to find a way to enjoy my life during the weekdays, too.
I feel for you. Life should not be only lived on the weekends. There must be a way to find a better fit with more fulfilling and appropriate work for you on your weekdays!
Having coached hundreds of people with job and career transitions I am happy to share with you the model I’ve developed to help people come up with the right employment niche. It doesn’t mean that once you identify it you can find it immediately. It often requires a stair-step approach, sometimes getting in on a lower level, sometimes taking the time to earn a new credential, etc. But the first thing is to use this 3-step model to at least identify your niche so you can then work toward it.
The model has three parts:
- Your passions,interests and values: Bob, what do you find exciting in life? Are you fascinated by computer technology? Animals? The stock market and finance? Being with children? Researching and analyzing? Helping people? We need to find out what makes you tick and makes you feel engaged and alive. Now that you are in your 30s you probably have a good sense of that. You can do a couple of exercises where you focus on times you felt really alive and were happily engaged. Were you with others or alone? Were you motivated by getting recognition, by earning a lot of money, by learning new things, by a group or solo environment? This step is an internal one. Take the time to explore what you are made of and what drives you.
- Your skills and strengths: What are your real world proven capabilities? Are you a technology whiz? Are you well organized? Do you have excellent customer service or sales skills? Have you earned special degrees, credentials or industry acknowledgement? What proven capabilities can you bring to an employer? Are there clear gaps in what you need to bring to an employer for a certain area of interest? If you are interested in computers, maybe you need to get certain certifications to make you an attractive candidate.
- Market Opportunity: Here’s the third and essential part. Is there a market for your combination of interests, values, passions and skills? Are there employers who will pay for your skills and capabilities? Let’s give an example. Chandra had a passion for working with animals and enjoyed being with people who shared that value. She had been the office manager for a vet office for three years. She also had great organizational skills and people skills. She is now happily working at the Oakland Zoo and heads up all school programs and volunteer programs! It’s the perfect niche.
Bob, the process I suggest is both internal and external. It starts with you figuring out what makes you tick and makes you happy. Then you need to look at the real life skills you can bring to an employer and ways you perhaps need to add to your employment toolbox to qualify for employment in that niche. Then you need to find the organizations and companies that would be interested in your unique drivers and skills, connect with them and make a great case for your candidacy. And of course, develop and practice telling your unique career story in a clear, compelling and passionate way, including anecdotes and examples to make it come alive to your listener.
Onward to you making all 7 days of the week enlivening ones!