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About the Author
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FOCUS ON YOUR FUTURE
I remember standing in the cafeteria line at school when I was nine years old when, occasionally, other children would come up and talk to me and tell me their stories. I didn't ask them to; I was just standing there, waiting in line for my food. They would start telling me everything about themselves or what their problems were, and I would respond with something like, "Wow, I can hear you've had a really hard time," or, "I hear that you're in a lot of pain," or something like that. And then they would talk some more.
I think I just had this gift, a natural ability that drew others to come and talk to me and to tell me their problems. Somehow they knew I would listen and that I would be non-judgmental. This natural ability followed me the rest of my life in the careers that I have chosen — as an educator, career counselor, and coach. I have always wanted to listen to and be of service to others.
People have always fascinated me and the world of work fascinates me as well. By marrying the two as a career counselor/coach, I bring together my innate abilities and passions and the skills that have naturally flowed from me since I was a child.
This experience has given me the special joy that comes from championing the causes of other people and providing support that can help them discover new aspects of themselves, while watching them expand and develop. Life is full of obstacles and there are times when we all need someone to champion us; to be in our corner to cheer us on and guide us in finding effective solutions to our problems. Sometimes, however, we have to do that ourselves.
Become Your Own Career Champion
This book is designed to help you understand that you have the power to be your own champion. You can create your own positive perspective with the messages you play in your inner dialogue and then manifest those messages in the material world. You can do this for yourself. Do not allow other people to tell you, "Don't do this" or "You shouldn't do that" or "This is not good enough." Instead, you can say, "I know what works for me. I can make my own life and I can champion my career. I can make it happen for myself. I can be successful at whatever vocation I choose."
As you move through this process you will see that when you show up to work, you get to decide how your situation is going to be. There are no victims in the career development ladder unless you choose to be one. The inner voice that says, "I have to get a job," gradually shifts to be more about, "I want to do something that feels good to me, something that serves me. I want to be in an environment that's nurturing and productive."
Career Development Theory
The theory of career development has not changed over the many years I have been doing this work. To answer the question "What career is right for you?" there are three important answers to seek out:
1. What are your interests? What do you love to do?
2. What are your values — professional as well as personal?
3. What are your skills and talents?
All of the career tests, assessments and services are designed to determine this fundamental information.
Defining Your Interests
One way to develop a strategy for finding work that meets your fundamental goals is to take a very close look at where your interests lie. To help define them, you can try this assessment developed by Richard Bowles, the author of the popular What Color Is Your Parachute? It's based on the Holland Code, which was created by John Holland and is the basis for such governmental resources as the Dictionary of Occupational Titles and the Occupational Outlook Handbook.
The Holland Code describes a process by which all people and all jobs can be divided into six distinct categories. The model is drawn as a hexagon with the categories placed in a specific order. Beginning with the top and continuing in a clockwise pattern, the six categories are:
1. Realistic: Athletes and mechanical people who prefer to work with objects, plants or animals, or like to be outdoors.
2. Investigative: Scientists, people who like to observe, analyze and solve problems.
3. Artistic: Artists and musicians, innovative, creative and those who like unstructured environments.
4. Social: People who work with people; teachers, guides, counselors. They care and they are very good with words.
5. Enterprising: Managers, influencers, persuaders, lawyers.
6. Conventional: People who like to work with data in a systematic way. They are numerical, have clerical ability, and pay attention to detail.
This exercise allows us to understand our work preferences based on the six categories. The exercise begins as you imagine that you are at a party where people from these six categories are grouped together around the room. Notice which group you are drawn to join first. Imagine spending time with these people and see how that feels. Now see which group you would be drawn to next and imagine spending time with them. Repeat one more time so that you have chosen the three groups you were most attracted to.
Now you have a three-letter code based on the first letter of each group (in the order you chose them). Your code might be R-I-A, A-S-C, I-E-C, or any of the other possibilities. We seek people like us. If you are an entrepreneurial type, you are probably going to want to spend more of your time in that kind of environment and with those kinds of people. Careers work the same way. So once you determine your code, you can research the industries, jobs, companies and people that are associated with your code and with each category. This book will show you how to do this research.
Obviously, this is a very simplified version of the assessment process but it is definitely a way to get started. This is a self-directed assessment and there are no right or wrong answers. Keep in mind, however, that the categories that are right next to each other in the hexagon are most compatible. It is going to be easier and more straightforward to find a career that marries two or all three of them. With two types on the opposite ends of the hexagon, such as a C and an A, you are going to have a harder time finding work that is satisfying to you. Maybe you will find work that satisfies one category and decide to develop the other interest outside of work time.
No job is going to give you 100 percent of what you want, but my advice is to aim for at least 70 percent job satisfaction. The latter is a really good figure and you could be quite happy with that level of career-related fulfillment. When the figure starts to go down to 50 percent job satisfaction, it means that half the time something is not right, something is out of place. Remember this is half of your workday. You then must start looking honestly at your situation and determine if you are "stuck" in the job.
Some people might make the decision to accept a 50 percent satisfaction level from their work life, because perhaps they happily leave their job at the office and then come home and pursue a hobby like playing music. You need to look at your own workday to determine if you are able to make a 50 percent job satisfaction work for you, or if you feel you are stuck in a dead-end situation.
As you know, you have two sides of your life: your work life and your personal life. What you should aim for is to blend the two together to come up with a TOTAL satisfaction level. If your work life and your personal life do not add up to a high enough level of satisfaction, then you might be ready to look at a career change. Either way, this book will help you determine what your basic needs are for happiness in the workplace, as well as your personal life. Then it will help you move on to a higher level of overall satisfaction in your life.
A Note for College Students
In the past, it was normal for students to declare a major related to a career, complete a prescribed set of studies, find a job in a related field, and stay in that field until they retired. One decision and that was it! Today, however, it is far more common for students to change their majors and do several career searches and changes in their work lifetime.
People change their careers for a variety of reasons. Perhaps they made an unwise choice initially or the career they selected no longer exists. Often they want to match their changing values and needs to a new set of career possibilities.
Making the right plans for your future during these changing times can be difficult. The self-assessment tools provided in this book can give you more choices, broaden your options, and give you the confidence that you are on the right career path.
A self-assessment can reveal your characteristics, interests, values and skills. It will define your strengths and your weaknesses. Looking for a match between these and the work you are considering is the most important step you can take before you write a résumé or begin your job search. In fact, when the time comes to write your résumé and prepare for a job interview, you will find the task easier if you have completed the self-assessment process first!
Recognizing the Need for Change
If you are already working, there are three main reasons why a career change might be right for you. First, it could be that you have the right job with the wrong company. For example, you may love the work you do as an administrative assistant, but you may not like the philosophy of the company, or you may find that you cannot stand behind their mission. Their values are not a match for yours. If the environment, including the people, is not a good fit for you, even the right work you do will feel like you're in the wrong job.
The second reason could be that you have the wrong position in the right company. In this case, you should look at your passions, interests and skills and find a way to put them to use in your own position or in another job within the same company. For some people, it might be about finding time outside of work to make use of those skills.
The third reason that career change might be right for you is that job security is an illusion. You might love your job and your company, but the company could move, reorganize, or go out of business due to various unforeseeable circumstances. This is why determining your skills and talents is such an important strategy in career development — no matter where you go, you take those skills and talents with you.
In this book, we'll delve into identifying your interests, values and skills, and then provide you with the concrete tools to choose, develop and change your career, no matter what stage of life you are currently in. These will include networking, goal-setting, researching, and decision-making.
Sections are dedicated to writing résumés, cover letters and follow-up letters, as well as appropriate dress attire and other interview strategies.
Students will find specific guidance for launching a new career after college. Retirees will learn how to retire with fire by enlivening their retirement years with work they are passionate about. So get ready to champion your career!
CHANGE CAREERS WITH COURAGE
Any kind of change takes courage. People want to stay where they are comfortable. However, in order for you to be truly satisfied throughout your work life, your career needs to change and grow with you.
Your Holland Code — the three job categories you are most attracted to — may change throughout your life. In fact, they most likely will change. Statistics show that people change careers up to three times throughout their lives — and some people pursue as many as seven careers. We are different people at age 20 than we are at age 30, 40, 50 or 60. We look at life differently and our values change too.
That is why identifying your values is such a key part of career development. This process involves asking and answering questions of yourself about what is important to you, and observing what you feel passionately attracted to (as well as what you feel passionately repelled by).
10 Reasons for Pursuing Your Ideal Career
I have a short list of the top 10 reasons why you need to work at having your dream job. These reasons will be reaffirmed throughout this book as you read on.
Reason #1: If you are doing what you love to do, it allows you to be your true self all of the time. Think about it. It really takes a tremendous amount of energy on a daily basis to not be authentic at work. Sometimes we feel we have to take on a sort of "false persona" to fulfill the job requirements. Your ideal job will enable you to be who you are and not waste any energy.
Reason #2: Your dream job fits into your life by integrating perfectly into your lifestyle. Your ideal career will feel like a natural part of who you are and it will not necessarily interfere with other aspects of your life. Of course, some days may be more stressful and chaotic than others, but basically you can still find the balance to have a fulfilling life.
Reason #3: Your ideal career reflects and incorporates your values. Your values reflect what is truly important to you and your dream career will align with the values that resonate with you. For example, if you are concerned about the environment, your dream job is not going to ask you to be involved with toxic waste dumping. It is as simple as that: Living your values. You are going to love your work and it is going to give you what you want in order to feel alive and productive.
Reason #4: Your dream job will allow you to tap into your unique talents. Your skills and strengths are gifts that come naturally to you. If you are in your ideal career, it will feel like a perfect fit. It will allow you to express yourself fully and you will notice that your work will feel effortless.
Reason #5: Your work will give you energy instead of draining you. If you're not doing work that's right for you, you will probably feel drained and tired when you come home. But if you're doing what you love, you will feel energized by it instead of exhausted by it. You'll look forward to it. You will embrace it every day. And if you receive energy from your work, this will energize other areas of your life as well.
Reason #6: Your dream career will enable you to align yourself with your passions and to do what you love. This is a core component of the right livelihood. When you're passionate about what you do, your purpose is fulfilled and you will feel very satisfied and comfortable. Then you become a more generous, caring human being.
Reason #7: Your dream job helps you to make a difference in something you believe in. Generally, when you do what you love, you believe in it. You want to do more of it. You feel you are making a difference and you feel happy about doing this work. Sometimes you'll think about your work and it will bring about change in your life or help to clarify something else that's important to you.
Reason #8: Of course your ideal career is enjoyable and it does not seem like work. Very frequently, if you love what you do, you're going to wake up in the morning and say, "Do I really get paid for doing this?" Your dream job can feel more like a hobby than a job!
Reason #9: A dream job follows your wants instead of your "shoulds." You're listening to your intuition and to your heart instead of solely to your rational mind. When you listen to what your intuition says, then you will find that the rest of your life will start to rearrange itself so that you can truly be who you are and enjoy a truly meaningful life.
Reason #10: Your dream job fulfills you. It gives a sense of completion. You will have a positive impact on others and your community because you are serving your own life's purpose.
Here's an exercise to help you consider your most compelling dreams. Close your eyes and try to imagine the ideal workday for yourself. Don't be concerned with the realities — just let your imagination go. See if you can picture, in full detail, what you would be doing. Then open your eyes and answer the following questions.
When done, go back over your answers and put an "I"' for those you feel are indispensable, an "O" for those that are desirable but optional, and an "F" for those which are basically a frill.
You wake up — at what time?
You get dressed — describe your clothes.
What kind of preparations do you have to make?
Do you have to work or do you work because you want to?
How do you get there? How far is it?
Do you do anything special on the way to work?
You get to work. Where are you (city, small town, office park, home, etc.)?
Describe the work setting.
What kind of work do you do?
What is the first task that you attend to as you start your day?
What skills do you use and enjoy using today?
What are the people like in your organization?
How long have you worked there?
What do you get paid?
Excerpted from "Champion Your Career: Winning in the World of Work"
Copyright © 2017 Halimah Bellows.
Excerpted by permission of BookBaby.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.
Table of Contents
Chapter 1: Focus on Your Future,
Chapter 2: Change Careers with Courage,
Chapter 3: Power up Your Passions,
Chapter 4: Verve up Your Values,
Chapter 5: Summon Your Strengths and Skills,
Chapter 6: Develop Dynamic Decision-Making Strategies,
Chapter 7: Nourish Your Network,
Chapter 8: Clarify Your Choices,
Chapter 9: Retire with Fire,
Chapter 10: Find Out Where You Fit,
Chapter 11: Jump into Your Job Search,
Chapter 12: Take Advantage of Today's Tools,
About the Author,