Clearing away the career change fog

Q: I’m thinking about a career change. Well, to be honest, I’m thinking about thinking about a career change. I don’t even know where to start. Can you give me any pointers? Before I even go to meet somebody such as a coach or career direction specialist, I would like to think about questions I should be asking myself. (IT, email ).

A: Your confusion is apparent in your question, IT. Career change is all about working through that confusion, rather than backing away from it – chances are if you back away, the confusion will persist or return, or you will live to regret your inaction, writes Brendan Heneghan, Career Coach, Sli Nua Careers.

Here are typical questions I use to start a conversation with my clients. Perhaps you could ask these of yourself now too, just to get you thinking.

1. What kind of career do you want?

What do you really love doing? I find many people do not know what they want in a career. There are several simple psychometric tests readily available on the internet that will help in this regard.

2. What do you have to offer?

How can you add value to an organisation? What are your transferable skills? What do you excel at?

I find most people are blissfully unaware of their depth of knowledge, the skills they possess and their personal qualities or attributes. It is critical to have confidence in what you can offer. A good CV is an obvious starting point. Bear in mind that other organisations may value what a person can offer far more than the organisation the person works for at present.

3. What roles do people with your skill sets fill?

Be creative. Look around and see what other people with similar skills and qualifications are doing. What roles in particular would suit and energise you?

4. What organisations would value those skill sets?

What kind of organisation will provide the working environment for you to flourish in?

Abraham Maslow, an American psychologist, in a ground-breaking study of successful people in the 1950s, came up with a model called the Hierarchy of Needs. The model suggests our most basic need is for food and water. We care for little else until this need is met. Then we begin to concern ourselves with shelter, clothing and safety. As we climb up the pyramid – we begin to focus on our social needs, we begin to look for recognition. At the top of the pyramid is self-actualisation, where our focus is on setting and achieving goals, having choice in our work and having purpose and meaning in our lives.

Gear your approach towards meeting the needs at the top of the pyramid.

5. Can you start working on your career plan?

Write it down!! The power of capturing our best thinking on paper should not be underestimated. We all have good ideas from time to time, but most are in our heads and become dislodged easily due to the daily challenges of life.

6. Who will support you?

When a person has finished writing down his/her vision, sharing the vision with a friend who will be positive and supportive is powerful - the plan will then appear more realistic and attainable. A good career coach is a valuable partner on the journey, offering guidance, support and encouragement.

Sli Nua Careers (www.SliNuaCareers.com ) have offices in Galway (Patricia Maloney, 091 528883 ), Mayo (Ballinrobe and Claremorris ), Limerick, Tullamore, Sligo, Tralee and Cork. Their services include CV preparation, interview training, job-searching strategies, public speaking and presentation skills, and career direction. For more details, visit www.slinuacareers.com/galway-office

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