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Monday, January 21, 2008

Career Counseling

I need serious help connecting with someone who can help me plan a new career path. Where can I go for this?

Go to the end of your street. Turn left. Go three blocks (where the McDonalds is) and make a right. Follow that for 3.2 miles (track it on your odometer--otherwise you'll miss it!) and look for a small house with purple curtains. Park on the street (not in the driveway, she's very particular about who parks in her driveway). Take a plate of chocolate chip cookies with your name and phone number up to the front porch. Ring the bell, put the plate of cookies down and leave. If you're lucky you'll get a call back!

Oh wait, not helpful? Sorry.

When I googled Career Counseling I got back over 2,000,000 hits. Only barely 320,000 for Career Coaches, though.

It's not a lack of resources. It's a lack of clarity on your part. (I know, I know, that's the problem.)

You want a new career path. Excellent. What's wrong with the old one? I'm not asking this because I'm trying to encourage you to stay in your current path. I'm asking because you really need to know this. If your problems are:

1. I hate my boss
2. Stupid company policies
3. No raise in 3 years

You may not need a new path, per se, but rather a different job in the same field. If your problems are:

1. I'm an accountant and I can't add
2. I'm a kindergarten teacher and I can't stand kids
3. I'm HR person and I don't like people

You probably need to start a new path, except for the last one. We'll just move you right into employee relations.

I'm a big fan of free (or at least cheap), so I have to recommend books before counselors that charge you money. What Color is Your Parachute always gets rave reviews, although I have never read it.

For only $8.76, Amazon.com is selling Career Coward's Guide to Changing Careers. Again, I haven't read it, but I thought the title was cool.

What are your hobbies? Yes, it's unlikely you'll be able to get a new job that just requires building model trains, but if that's your hobby, maybe you should consider something that requires working with your hands.

The key thing in a situation like this is that you not just sit around and mope. Read the books. Figure out where you want to go. Talk to people who are already there. Figure out how they got there. Start down that path. Do something EVERY DAY towards your new goal.

If you do that, you'll get onto a new career path.

8 comments:

Anonymous said...

Let me say that EHRL is right on with assessing why you need/want a new career path. I'm working through "What color is your parachute" (2008 edition) because I just finished a Master's degree in "Family Social Science". Exactly--what the heck am I going to do with a degree like that? I'm checking out my options--and EHRL is right again-work on it daily! I am creating my own career plan--using "What color is your parachute". It really is fabulous. The author points out that to determine a new career that will be good for you requires far more knowledge about yourself than most people are consciously aware of. In the book are several activities to help you to "awaken" yourself or make explicit your values, favorite skills, what type of working environment you prefer, etc. You likely can find copies of this book in your local library--but it's important to note that the author revamps/edits his book annually and each year's edition is VERY different from the year before as he tries to keep up with changing technologies, etc. (That's why I bought the 2008 edition-my library had 2004 and 2006 copies-both vastly different from one another, and from the 2008 edition.)
I wish you luck in your journey. I'm enjoying mine!

Chris Young said...

You raise some important questions EHRL about why your reader wants a career change. There is a huge difference between not liking your boss or the organization one works for and being in a career that you can't stand. It can be easy to confuse the two, but it is critical that one doesn't.

I would suggest that your reader take a personality assessment or career assessment to gain a better understanding of themselves. Do they love being around people? Detail work? Helping others? What are they motivated by? Money? Personal achievement? Etc.

Like you said EHRL, a kindegarden teacher who hates kids or an accountant who can't add or doesn't pay attention to details are career choices that are doomed from the start.

We all have a place in this world, and I strongly believe that finding that place begins with understanding ourselves and making career choices that are aligned with our natural selves.

Chris Young
The Rainmaker Group

Anonymous said...

I'd recommend that the correspondent look into some career counseling activities(assessments, exercises, exploration, networking, conversations, etc.) with the career services office at his/her alma mater. Very often alumni services are free (or way cheaper than you'll find elsewhere) and represent an excellent place to start.

If the correspondent doesn't have a bachelor's degree (or if the career office is non-existent or doesn't offer alumni services), check out community-based career advice/services through organizations like JEVS or [your local county/municipality] workforced development organization. While some of these are skills-based programs, you may find a counselor to help you figure out whether you hate your job because of the job, the people, or some other issue, and what you might look to explore next as a way of improving your career options. And the cost is likely to be relatively low.

Just another HR lady.... said...

You have to like people to work in HR? Uh oh... :-)

Robert said...

I'd add one suggestion. Interview people who have been successful in their field. You might even interview people who have been unsuccessful in their field to see what to possibly avoid.

robert edward cenek
Cenek Report
www.cenekreport.com

Kennette Reed said...

You've been given some good advice. Understanding what unique gifts is the first place to start. Look back to your childhood and work forward. This retrospective thinking will help you to see patterns of behavior and connect periods when you received pleasure in the things you did.

Business and personal skill assessments will also uncover areas to consider. Keep in mind that being good at something does not mean it's something we enjoy doing.

Therefore, don't consider a career strickly based on being good at something or just because it pays well. If you can discover what you'd be willing to do (all day), even if you didn't get paid to do it, then you're on the right track.

I've been through this process (even wrote a workbook to help others start the process), I know it isn't easy, but it can be extremely rewarding. Discovering work you're passionate about provides a feeling of exhilaration that is out of this world. You'll feel your heart sing.

Kennette Reed
www.discoveringyourpassion.com

Ramona said...

I find it is hilarious that you say if you don't like people, work in Employee Relations. :) Maybe that's how I got where I am today. I love ER.

Wally Bock said...

Let me build upon Kennette's comment while acknowledging all the good advice that's already been posted.

Make two lists. On one list put the things you're good at. On the other put things that you love to do, things that give you energy. Review the lists. Pull out everything that appears on both lists.

Those are the things you can build a career on. That is, as long as you can make enough money doing them. So review the of your double-strengths and imagine what kind of jobs or career choice they might fit and go hook up with one. If it turns out not to work, try another one.