A lot of people really don’t like their jobs. Ask around. Salaried employees tend to be overworked, and in general, the labor pool seems to be filled with unsatisfied workers. They might look tired, stressed.
Most stumble haphazardly into their career by accident. Few of us plan for our professional paths, and only a handful do this the right way. It turns out, the best career paths are flexible, and built to match the core ethics of the person in the driver seat: you.
So sit down for a minute, and complete this exercise. Everyone is busy – but not busy enough to self-reflect and map out their ideal career path. Let’s make this easy, and work backwards. We quickly see this is a effective way to build a clear picture of what was once a hazy, foggy future.
Use the six steps below to build yourself a career brief. Note: create a separate list for each step.
STEP 1) Figure out “why” you want to work
Your gut might be answering this question with something along the lines of “I need to be paid, duh! Why else would I work?!” As Simon Sinek says, “start with why” and ignore the money sign for a moment. Do you have a particular cause you’d like to commit your life to? What are your favorite hobbies? Is there anything about the world you want to improve? What’s the most important thing to you?
This is all about determining your drivers. Create a list of your core ethics.
STEP 2) List your ideal functions
So now you have a list of the “good good” – the stuff that really makes you tick. Great! Now that you have your “why” – let’s focus on the “what”. Take a glance at this functionality chart and select your dream functions. At the peak of your career, what will be your ideal role? Limit your selection to three functions.
STEP 3) List out all your skills and attributes needed for your ideal functions
Now that you know your dream duties, create a list of the skills you’ll need to master. Once these are listed out, rank yourself on a scale of 1-5 based on your current capabilities. You’ll be able to quickly list out the things you’ve already got in spades for your dream job, and better yet, you can identify the areas you need to make stronger over the years. This will help you determine the path of least resistance between where you are and where you want to go.
STEP 4) Create a list of the industries
This is where you can be picky. Where would you like to place yourself? Here are the major sectors of global industry.
STEP 5) Find the best companies within those industries, research them, and review
Hopefully you have a few industries to select from. Within each of those, you need to find the best companies. The term “best” is completely subjective, so you need to quickly determine what’s important for your working environment. Does company size matter to you? How often do you want to work with people? Is travel important? Does you dream job already exist, or will you have to create it yourself? Will you do this within a company, or do you plan on starting a business after you have experience under your belt? Take the time to answer these questions. If you know the characteristics of your ideal working environment, you can rank companies again on a scale of 1-5. After you rank the companies, it’s time to start applying.
STEP 6) Connect all of the dots, consider the possibilities, and evaluate the path you’ve laid down
Have fun with this. Now that you have a list of your dream functions, a compilation of the things that make you smile, and the skills required for your ideal job, it’s easy to draw out some career paths.
Ta-Da! You now have a career brief! Some folks like to break their briefs down to the year, giving themselves deadlines for career advancement so they can adhere to a strict timeline. Others, like myself, have a more open-ended loose approach.
Now the final question is: When do you want to reach your goal?