Linking skills and interests to map your path to a new career

December 3, 2014

Linking skills and interests to map your path to a new career

December 3, 2014

As I have written before, my career change was as much about changing my lifestyle and the way I worked as it was about the need to change my job and move out of the government sector. As I write today, I’m doing something I haven’t done enough of but that I thought a lot about when trapped in a dreary office in a very polluted city. I am sitting outside, with a coffee and a lap top, making the most of the opportunity to work outside on a beautiful day in the Barossa. Blue skies, warm weather, a nice breeze and the chirping of birds for company. I’ve done school drop-offs and a workout, so while I don’t have a paid job yet, this matches pretty well with the lifestyle I envisaged.

No longer a dream - working outside with a post-workout brunch
No longer a dream – working outside with a post-workout brunch

Last week, I read an interesting post on the UK website Careershifters, which I have found really useful as I work to develop my next career. They provide some great resources for people like me who know they need to change jobs but don’t necessarily have a clear idea of what they want to do next. The post was a question from another reader who knew she hated her current job, but couldn’t see what else she could do with the skills she had.

Working in the same government department for the whole 15 years of my full time working life, I understood how this person felt. Apart from feeling like many of my skills I are government specific, I also don’t understand the inner workings of every industry or business well enough to see where these skills could be utilised. While I was able to take an opportunity to change my job slightly while in Hanoi to take on a new role, and thus obtain new skills which are complemented by my studies, I am also realising that some of my other skills are transferrable. So I thought I would share some of what I have learned so far about identifying a new career path when the old one no longer works.

The work I am doing with Lisa from Multiples of Two is proving to be so valuable. We have set three broad goals around my interests, my skills and this blog. Every fortnight I have two to three actions under each to work on, and as I spend more time working on these goals, I am starting to find that the point where my skills and interests start overlap is becoming clearer.

While some skills are easy to identify – I am a good organiser, I know how to write a media release and run a Facebook page and I have skills in marketing and policy development, I have also used a number of online resources to help identify other skills. The VIA Institute on Character has a free personality strengths test which is good for identifying your character traits. For me, this felt like it was more about the type of operson I am and how I wanted to work. The Gallup Strengths Centre was useful to identify more skills based strengths. I paid only paid for my top five strengths and I could agree with the findings and found the explanations and suggestions about how those strengths could be best used really useful.

I have also enjoyed reading about people who have made successful career changes or established successful businesses or organisations. Some great resources I have used recently include the magazine Renegade Collective and founder Lisa Messenger’s story of her own entrepreneurial journey, Daring and Disruptive as well as her fiancé Jack Delosa’s website The Entourage – although as someone who has never seen herself as an entrepreneur or even a business owner, it can be easy to dismiss their advice and say, “But I’m not creative, I’m no an entrepreneur”. This is where someone like Margie Warrell and her book “Stop Playing Safe” about rethinking risk and being courageous to achieve success come in handy. During a great Women’s Agenda webinar with coach Megan Dalla Camina a couple of weeks ago, she spoke about the need to focus on a life plan first and then focus on a career plan, whereas many of us work the other way around. There are also loads of great TED talks out there.

I am now starting to consider how those skills and interests can come together to form a new career that fits with the lifestyle I want. This is quite challenging and really involves letting go of preconceived ideas as well as requiring a good dose of self-belief. It’s very easy to immediately put up barriers and start thinking things like:

  • Who would even need someone to do something like this? And how would I find out if there was?
  • There are no jobs advertised for this.
  • Surely there are other people out there who could do this better.
  • How can I make a living out of this?
  • I’m not an entrepreneur.

This is where it really does help to have a qualified coach or mentor come in. As I noted in 7 things I have learned from my career change so far, it can be very easy to get overwhelmed or just get stuck reading articles or listening to webinars. Having a coach provide exercises to take a systematic approach to help you map out your life plan and your career plan has provided some structure to what is actually a huge change.

Finally, a big thing for me has been ensuring that whatever I am doing fits within my lifestyle and life plan. At the moment, this means having time to do the things I felt I was missing out on in my old career or things that are important having moved to a new town like spending time with my family, contributing to the boys’ schools, hobbies like sewing and cooking, exploring the Barossa, making new friends and getting involved in local activities such as the Vintage Festival. What is becoming very clear to me is that what I really want is a “portfolio career”, with elements likely to include some paid part-time employment, developing my own business or consultancy, volunteer work and time for families, friends and hobbies. While this may sound somewhat “pie in the sky”, the reality is that I gave up my job to have this, so I am passionate about making this opportunity work. I also want to use this blog to share my story and my experience with others out there hoping t do the same .

And in the coming weeks, I hope to be able to share the stories of some inspiring career changes.

Note: None of the content in this post is sponsored and links provided are purely based on my own experiences so far.

Angela Pickett

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