A question I often hear from relaunchers is: “I have no idea what I want to pursue next, but I definitely don’t want to return to what I did before. Now what?”
Relaunching is an ideal time for career reinvention, but changing careers can be intimidating. I encourage you to view this period not as a time of uncertainty, but rather as a time of opportunity – the impetus for self-discovery and exploration.
The relaunch journey is highly individualized, clearly structured, and at times quite organic. In order to find a job that aligns with your personality, interests and values, you first want to assess who you truly are, what motivates you and, simply put, what makes you tick. This, in combination with creating an understanding of today’s job landscape with its multitude of career options, will lead to a clarity of design and action, and ultimately a fulfilling work experience.
A great starting point is to consider the “4 C’s of Relaunching,” (the 3C’s original version from Back on the Career Track): control, compensation, company culture and the job content of your ideal position.
Control – Determine how flexible you can be regarding office location, travel requirements and time commitment. The dawn of technology has enabled a wide range of work types and schedules. Options include traditional full-time or part-time employment along with flex-time, telecommuting, job-sharing and more.
Compensation – Research fair market value before applying for a position or entering contract negotiations, and compare your discoveries to the salary range you desire/need. Other considerations include healthcare benefits, retirement plans or equity potential. Always be prepared to make an informed decision.
Culture – The company atmosphere created by colleagues and management greatly impacts your daily work experience. Corporate cultures vary significantly – from traditional to innovative, from slow- to fast-paced, and from entrepreneurial to well-established. I encourage you to consider the size of your ideal company, its geographical scope, as well as its reputation or influence in the market place. Do you envision yourself at a large international corporation, a small start-up, a local community organization or at home as a private consultant?
Content – Decide the level of responsibility you desire. Reflect on your former employment and identify which tasks and functions you most enjoyed and where you excelled. These considerations will serve as a launching pad for your new career.
As a career coach, I use many assessment tools, such as the Strong Interest Inventory and the Myers Briggs Personality Type Indicator, to create clarity about my clients’ interest, values and personality traits. These assessments highlight natural proclivities, which are at the crux of any career transition. This invaluable research helps to identify job families and occupations that could be a good fit.
Another exercise in self-reflection is to write an outline of your life story, identifying daily activities and achievements that brought you fulfillment. Concurrently, you can ask family and friends how they perceive you and what traits and strengths they ascribe to you.
Greater self-awareness lays the foundation for a successful job search. In the next step, nothing will be more effective than old-fashioned research and networking (albeit with a high-tech twist.)
Through LinkedIn and other online platforms, you can research career possibilities, review job descriptions to determine which positions you find appealing, and begin to understand who the players are in your industry.
You gain a better understanding about new opportunities and people to contact by simply “putting yourself out there.” Explore your field of interest by engaging in conversations, strategic volunteering, shadowing a professional, taking courses, accepting free-lance assignments or consulting. While there is great structure to this process, I also encourage you to be organic, follow your heart, have an open mind, and see the possibilities!
It is important to realize your career path is not always linear, it is often a circuitous, yet revealing route that leads to more than one option – a route of discovery. The more you are willing to learn about yourself and the world of work, the more likely you are to find joy and passion in your career.