September 1, 2011

Career Exploration

checkCareer Exploration Tips

If you work in a career long enough, you’re bound to go through periods where you find yourself reflecting over your accomplishments, successes, failures and progression over the years. Taking some time to do a career exploration can leave you content and proud of how you’ve grown in your career, or it can be the result of realizing that job you used to love now makes your stomach knot at the mere thought. Doing a career exploration can help you decide if it’s time to move on to a new position or new career.

  1. Doing a career exploration requires being totally honest with yourself, even if it hurts. This is particularly crucial if you’re considering a career change. You have to be willing to acknowledge your shortcomings and the areas in your professional and personal life that need improvement. You must be willing to do what it takes to improve in those areas if you want to succeed in your endeavors. You must also be realistic about what you have to bring to the table in terms of a new position or new career.
  2. The first thing to consider before career exploration is what it is you like to do and what skills do you current have, or need to acquire, to do it for a living? Next, further analyze your skills to see which ones are transferable, i.e., can be utilized in your new position or career. Set short- and long-term goals. When do you want to start working toward your new career? Be realistic. You don’t want to set yourself up for a letdown just because you underestimated or overestimated how long it would take you to accomplish a goal or what would it take to do so.
  3. Thorough career exploration involves research, research, and more research. Narrow down your job choices to a few and don’t skimp on research. You want to find information such as median salaries, training or certification requirements, opportunities for growth opportunities, required experience and education, job description, working conditions and career stability.
  4. Don’t underestimate the value of networking with others who are in your field of interest. Insider knowledge can give you different perspectives on the jobs you are interested in. Also, insiders can give you a head-up on current and future job openings or open a few doors for you. Another effective way to explore careers is internships. What better way to get hands-on in your profession of interest? You can also take on extra tasks in your field of interest while at your current job. It may be more work, but at least you’ll get an idea of whether it’s a good fit for you.

Taking a step back once in a while is a necessary step to overall happiness and success. If you take a very commonsense and honest approach to evaluating your professional status, you can figure out your best options. The most difficult issue is having self-insight: examining yourself as an outsider might. However, if you can glean this insight, you will be ahead of 99% of other professionals.

Read more in Career Planning

Marie is a writer for covering career advice, recruitment topics, and HR issues. She has an educational background in languages and literature as well as corporate experience in Human Resources.