I recently did a podcast on this topic but wanted to outline it here as well. I hope you will find these tips helpful if you are thinking about plunging into a new career. I also wanted to give a little shout out to isnlabs.com for sponsoring that podcast. This company makes nutrition products that my hubby loves; if you are looking for a post-performance work out drink, type RICKWELLS in when you check out and you will get a discount. I love the cranberry lime flavor. Okay, okay, now let’s get on with those tips.
Tip #1: Make a Career Vision Board
Most of you have heard me suggest making vision boards, which is a visual display of photos on a poster board of all the things you’d like to attract into your life. Well, this is the same thing but it’s career focused. Sometimes you don’t know exactly what job you want but you know the look and feel you are going for. Do you imagine yourself in a vet tech clothing, a fancy suit, a tall office building, or working from home? Look through some magazines and try and map out a visual of your ideal career aspirations and what feels “next” career-wise for you.
Tip #2: Take a Career Test, or Two, or Three…
Lots of people say they remember taking a career test in high school that said they should be a brick layer, but you need to give career assessments a second chance. Sometimes people ask me if it is worth taking these various tests to figure out if the test is going to help them to find a career. I have a mixed answer to that: yes and no. No, there isn’t a magic wand test that tells you what to be when you grow up. But yes, they can help. I feel like career assessments can be useful; they can rule out careers you don’t like and give you some ideas on paper to go and explore. I like assessments that look at your values, skills you are motivated to improve, and career interests. I use elevationsonline.com (individuals in transition), among others. Reach out to me if you have taken some career assessments at your base or through your alma mater and I will give you a discounted debrief if you mention this blog post. I can often look at several assessments and help you make a decision without having to give you additional assessments myself. Use as many free resources as you can before hiring a career coach.
Tip # 3: Read Books About Career Transition
I have a few suggestions in the resources section of my website, or you can head to your local library and check out books on career moves. There are so many good books out there. One of my favorites is Do What You Are, a book by Paul Tieger. This book is based on the Myers Briggs test, one of the most widely used assessments in North America. I love Tieger’s condensed version of the assessment, which is just as accurate as the full assessment. This assessment is a really good way to look at different personalities styles and how those personality styles correlate with job happiness in a particular field. It is validating to read about career transitions from someone that is just like you. You take the quick assessment and then read the chapter that matches your personality type. Lots of my clients walk away from reading this book with new ideas; I love anything that gets our brains open to new ideas.
Tip #4: Pay Attention To Compliments
So, like, let’s say I am good at cleaning my house. That doesn’t mean that I want to be a home cleaner as my profession. However, knowing what we are naturally good at can be super helpful.
You might not like your overall job, but you do a great job making presentations. You might hate your boss, but you are really good with people and your performance review always points to your ability to be part of a team or your leaderships skills are a plus. Think about what others compliment you on at home and at work and start writing a list of your natural talents. Think about how you can reword them into transferable skills that a “perfect fit” job would be able to utilize.
Tip # 5: Create a Career Journal/Notebook
I love three ring notebooks where you can print things off from online and keep them all in one place. If you prefer the computer file or a job seeking app, have at it; however, lots of my career coaching clients swear by a physical notebook. Buy a journal just for your career discovery notes. Use the journal when you are exploring professional organizations and jobs online. Take it with you when you do informational interviews and keep track of all the jobs you apply for so you can follow up. You might even want to have a section for your “looking for a job right now” and a “dream job” category. The former is what you qualify for (that doesn’t mean you cant stetch yourself) and a dream job that you are on you way to getting more credentials to obtain. It helps you keep your eye on the prize and encourages you to keep looking once you have landed a job in here and now. A career journal will help keep you organized and focused and give you a place to capture all of your good ideas.
Tip # 6: List your Values, Skills, and Interests.
Designate a section to capture your values, skills, and career dreams. I have a values assessment on my website and by knowing what you value you can align your values with companies values. The same goes for skills. Get out your jounral and write down things you are motivated to learn more about. Consider perfecting the skills that motivate you. Enjoy public speaking? Join toastmasters. Love computers? Sign up for a computer course. Love writing? Join a writing group. By perfecting what you already like, you might be about to add to the skill base you need to use that skill more often in your work. It is helpful start writing down interests in your journal. Have a friend who talks about her new business and your brain gets loaded up with great ideas? Journal that. Have a friend who is a teacher? Do an informal informational interview with her so you can learn what it would take to naturally pique your interest. I offer Family Readiness Groups (FRG) groups in my career transition workshops, where I have participants write down their values, skills, and interests on a piece of paper and read their list to the rest of the group. Even if we can’t come up with specific jobs, there is usually a theme such as health care, public health, education, or service that can get us started with exploring new professions.
Tip # 7: Join Professional Organizations
I encourage clients who want to break into a new field to join the professional organization associated with that field. For example, join Society of Human Resource Management if you are toying with working in human resources. Even attending an industry conference (ask if you can volunteer to get a discount) can be a great way to learn a lot in short amount of time and get a pulse on the industry. I’m always surprised by the vast number of professional organizations that actually exist. If you visit elevationsonline.com, the website will direct you to various industry’s professional organizations at the end of the assessment you take. This can help you jumpstart your fieldwork and industry research by giving you the inside scoop to what is happening in that field. Additionally, many professional organizations advertise jobs in their professional organizations’s literature. I recently had a client who was interested in public health and found their professional organization to be a great way to learn more about what jobs are part of that field.
Tip # 8: Take People To Coffee
I’m writing this during a pandemic that has many of us stuck at home; however, perhaps that means some people are working from home more and around to field answers. When people call me to ask about life and career coaching, I am usually so busy with my clients and kids that I ramble off quick answers such as “go get a coaching certificate,” “lease an office,” and “dive in and coach people.” If someone is really interested in learning more, I will set up a consulting call and walk them through the steps. Many other professionals are the same way; if you know someone in a field that interests you, take them out to coffee and pick their brain. Ask them if you can have ten minutes of their time for an informational interview (there are examples of informational interview questions online), get your questions ready and offer to take them out to dinner, or pay them for an hour of their time. Sometimes a consultation fee is a much smaller investment than getting an entire degree and realizing you aren’t actually interested in the field. Before you go to school, make sure the program is accredited and you talk to some graduates who are actually working in the field. I knew someone who paid a lot of money for a degree in early childhood development and thought she was going to become a teacher. However, the program wasn’t accredited and she was only able to work in a day care center; thus, she spent a lot of money on the wrong credential. Sadly lots of non-accredited colleges target military spouses; so, before you invest in any schooling, consider talking with a career coach and investing some time in researching the cost/benefit analysis of the degree program before taking that career plunge. In the short run, grab lots of people and bring them out for a coffee. This will save you time in the long run.
Retake those career assessments you took in high school once you have your vision board and your notebook out (bring it with you when you take your friend with a great job to lunch). Talk to your alma mater career counselor or counselor on military base and contact some professional organizations in your field or general professional organizations aimed to help spouses (try National Military Spouse Network); then, you will be well on your way to finding a new career. Sure, being a military spouse on the go is much more daunting than if you were making a career plung while staying in one location; but, with a little perseverance and creativity, I believe you can find a satisisfying portable profession. If you have done all of these steps and still need help, reach out and set up a career coaching session with me. We can talk through your specific customized career transition plan and move you from underpaid to happy and fulfilled by your career choices. If you only have ten minutes with someone, make sure you do your homework and hone in on what the next step for you will be when it comes to plunging in a new career direction. Study your “friends” profile on LinkedIn so you know what to ask about and use the coffee time wisely. Get out there and have lots of fun enjoying the process; regardless of what career you are in and where you are headed, the process of changing is similar. Pay attention to your process in addition to the content you’re obtaining, and reach out to me at firstname.lastname@example.org if I can be of any help. Mention this blog post for a 30-minute free meet and greet to see if I think career coaching will help you. I’m very honest; sometimes I turn away potential clients because they need a tutor for a professional exam or they need “any job,” rather than a dream job. I ask them to reach back out at a later stage in the game. Sometime I’m honest and say you can make more money if you get out of this MLM you’re working for. I may also say that you don’t need to change jobs; instead, you need to change yourself or you will attract a micromanaging boss at your next job, too. So, do the steps I have laid out, screenshot a photo of your career vision, and then reach out if you still need help and let’s explore what will help you make the leap. I don’t offer this very often, so take advantage. My hope is that all military spouses who want to be employed, are, and that they are doing work they love.