Career Exploration: The Never Ending Journey!
Career Exploration: It’s been said you’re really not an explorer if you’re not willing to leave the shore behind as you sail on the career ocean.
Over the past few years there has been an explosion of books and seminars which have attempted to guide you into plotting successful career journeys. In an era of quick fixes and even quicker job advice everyone is searching for the quickest way up the career ladder. Coaches and consultants are earning a good living rolling out the career maps and doing the exploration dirty work.
When careers were more secure and it was not uncommon to work a lifetime for one employer career coaches could easily lay out career plans and career paths. However, in the current career climate and it doesn’t look like it will change anytime soon, the concepts of career exploration and career planning need to be reexamined.
Those starting out in the workplace now will likely change job and careers several times in their working life. Many times the career or job change will be unexpected and come out of left field.
To often we define ourselves by what we do, our career and what we do to make a living. Over our lifetime we try many jobs, primarily when we are younger. We learn as we go along, we like this we dislike that. This management style you are comfortable with, another style you hate.
Then we qualify for a longer term career, we work at becoming skilled at the career and the ancillary requirements that go with it. With the ever changing economy and workplace it’s becoming more difficult to find a career early and then stay on that job path your entire working life.
Perhaps attorneys and physicians can remain on the same career path as they master different aspects of their careers. But they, and a few others, may be the exception of career paths in the corporate environment.
Therefore, here are three career exploration strategies that you might employ to build your career, and keep exploring and qualifying for opportunities that might appear:
1. Keep learning: Learning opportunities are all around us. If your employer offers tuition reimbursement programs take advantage of it. Include an aggressive reading program in your career planning and explore new areas of interest. Distance learning is always an option. Actively participate in local and national associations connected to your career.
Improve you skills and knowledge base on a regular basis to keep reinventing yourself and your career.
2. Keep your eyes out for challenges: A difficult project comes up at work. Volunteer to work on it. An opportunity arises to represent your employer to an outside group. Jump at it.
A new procedure or system is being introduced. See if you can become part of the training cadre. An outside vendor offers training, or there is a workshop or seminar that would increase your skills go for it.
3. Keep building your road map: Exploring means new things. Career exploration is no different. The successful explorers have a plan or a map, but on occasion they have to be flexible and move in a direction they find promising.
If your uncover something that might interest you add the research to your career plan. In effect you are going on two journeys simultaneously: one is to build and master skills necessary to grow in your current career; the other is to keep exploring what is available and what might interest you.
Overall, to be an effective career explorer you must be open to new things, expand your learning to be flexible, to master new skills all to make you more valuable to yourself and your employer.
Another considerable advantage of being open to change and mastering new skills and concepts, and networking with a widening group of people, it will all likely lead you to a career opportunity that you will be more satisfied with and passionate about.