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Career Development

The idea of career development is not just a fancy way to describe your career life.  When we talk about development, we are trying to demonstrate there is a process by which someone’s career can develop.  Sometimes development is bad or wrong and you need to change directions or reassess your decisions.  Other times the development is spot-on and feels right.  So how do you assess your career development in order to guide yourself in the right direction?

In order to guide your efforts, one needs to look back at the past decisions they have made and determine if they were good for your career aspirations or a mistake.  Most decisions have both positive and negative connotations.  You can find the good and bad in any situation.  Because of that fact, you should list the each on one side of a piece of paper and see how they stack up.  I suggest using a piece of paper because there can be a major difference between what you think and what you see “in reality” on paper.  The paper exercise can change your opinion and guide you with logic instead of emotion.

As I look back on my career, I see a lot of great things that have happened to me.  Great things such as being in the right place at the right time.  This good timing has helped propel my career development in directions I never knew I would enjoy.  I took one sales job which I wasn’t sure I wanted and it developed me in ways I was scared to admit.  Early in my career I would shy away from things I was scared of and would not try new and potentially exciting things.  I let my fears drive me.  The one sales job really pushed me to understand who I was and where I was going.

Now at 41 I see that my career moved so quickly instead of planning it out and following my dreams, I sometimes got caught riding the wave I was on.  As I get a little older I wish like many I would have taken more risks and tried more things earlier.  Now I am still in my prime career timeframe (mid 30’s to 50’s) but what I am seeing is if I am not careful I will let the next 10 to 20 years go by without trying out some things that are a stretch for me.  Stretching can be painful but is necessary to experience life’s potential for you.

I guess I am suggesting everyone, no matter who you are or at what age, should put together a plan for your career on paper AND should experiment along the way.  I do think you can have the career you had hoped for if you periodically review what you have done and where you are going.  Do it once a year and your career development will flourish.

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Second Career – Top Six Questions To Ask Yourself

How many careers are you supposed to have in a lifetime?  I personally think you should have at least three.  You should reinvent yourself at least three times during your career.  If you are just on your second career or looking for it now, great.  You are one-third done with your life.  How great is that?

So you are looking for a second career.  Before you decide on what the second career should be, why don’t we take a look back and see what we can learn from your first career.  Your first career probably lasted 10 or more years.  You were young when you picked it or when it picked you.  Maybe you raised a family on it or are in the middle of it now.  What can you learn from your first career mistakes and successes that will prepare you for your second career?

1. Ask yourself what you learned about they type of work you like to do.  Everyone experiences facets of your job which you like to do and others you hate doing.  List your likes and hates on two sides of a paper and see what you come up with.  Maybe with your second career we can find you something with more pieces from the like column.

2. What did you give up to go in the first career direction?  Sometimes if you can remember what path you decided to take and also remember what you gave up to take that path, it can help frame up some ideas on what you can do this second go-around.  What do you wish you tried back then?  Most of us have crossroads when we start out in a new job and decisions had to be made.  Revisit some of those dusty, old decisions and see if you can re-kindle any  old career flames.

3. What do you want to be when you grow up?  This question can be asked whether you are on your first career, second career or even your third one.  Ask it often and see how your opinion changes based on your experience to date.  You can change your mind.  You can change directions.  Your not “grown up” yet anyways.

4. What new experiences would you like to explore next?  This question opens up your mind to possible second career ideas.  Money is probably a driving force in what career you eventually decide on.  But before we cross that bridge, what have you only dreamed about doing while you were working all those years?  Do you want to explore art or design instead of accounting?  Open your mind to experience things you might not have done in the past and see where that journey takes you.

5. What situation are you looking for?  This should help shape the options you have in front of you.  Do you need to be in a particular geography with no travel.? Do you want to travel now to explore the world?  Think about your day-in-the-life and what you would like it to be.  These type of limitations can really help you hone in on a second career you can fully enjoy.

6. What skills do you need to develop before you take on a second career?  Many times a second career is a complete directional shift.  You might need to go back to school or enter into a training program to help you develop in a new direction.  Get this training while you are employed (if you can) so you can jump-start your new career options.

These six questions will help you start exploring your second career more fully.  Getting a second chance or even a third one to create the career-life you want is exciting.  Take it seriously but have some fun with the possibilities.

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Summer Job Search – Break Time Over

Taking a break from something can really feel good.  I love talking about job search activities but needed to spend a few weeks away to clear my head.  After a couple hundred posts, things can get a little shaky.  I am back and enjoyed my break.

So what about you?  Are you looking for work but taking a break?  It is tempting to do this over the summer because you think no one is hiring.  I look at “break time” in a few different ways.  I am all for someone deciding it is time for a break and just do it.  Spontaneous breaks can really energize you right when you need them.  Mental and physical breaks are so important to growth that I think everyone should do it spontaneously.

Breaks can also be good if you have put a lot of work in for a stretch of time.  We in America don’t take enough vacations anyways.  We should because vacations are where we can free our minds and see what bubbles up when uninhibited.  Take the breaks after the long stretch and you will be revived.

The only type of person I don’t think should take breaks is those who are procrastinators.  You know who you are and don’t try to hide.  Taking breaks for you is a constant theme which should be part of a retraining program.  I do love procrastinators in that they can find more ways not to do something and it is easy for them.  It is tough for me and maybe I should look at life a little more like that…maybe it would help my OCD.  That is for another day.

If you get the feeling you are taking a break because you want to hide or don’t want to do something you feel is difficult.  Fight it.  Fight it head on.  Force yourself to break through the wall you built up and get through it.  You will feel better and get more done.  Then you can take your break and relax.

The summer can be a great time to job search.  In many parts of the country it is when people come out of their caves and dwellings in order to get reintroduced to their neighbors, parks and outdoor environments.  This is also a great way to network.  The number one way to find a job is find new people who can plug you into a new position.  Getting out doing things you like to do in the summer is a great way to find opportunities.  I have met three new people just this week based on summer activities in my neighborhood.  All three of them I did favors for and can ask them some good questions about job prospects.

Go out this weekend and talk with three new people.  See where it gets you.

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