I don’t believe all job searching is a lost hope during these volatile times, BUT, if you think that based on your current target direction (ideal role, companies, and industries), that you may struggle to land a new job in the next few weeks, there may be a better way to spend your time. In fact, I believe that this is the BEST time for career exploration.
I’ve been career coaching hundreds of professionals for 7+ years. In doing so, folks have come to me for help with job search support but in fact, they were struggling with their search because they didn’t know what path they truly wanted. Over time, I came up with several tools, frameworks, and processes to help individuals gain career clarity. To give you some extra trust in me, my professional background is at the following institutions: Goldman Sachs, Bridgewater Associates, WeWork/Flatiron School, Aon Hewitt, Binghamton University Professor, and the Columbia University Career Design Lab.
So, let’s break it down.
What is career exploration?
My definition of career exploration is a process that is separate and comes before the job search, including a series of steps of practical learning about potential career paths of interest as well as self-reflection in order to learn, compare, contrast and narrow in on the options (paths) until the individual reaches a point of certainty and clarity about one career path they are confident they want to pursue (i.e. what path they feel is right for them, which path will suit them, which path they will enjoy, which path they are excited about pursuing).
Why is this the best time for career exploration?
The world is in a very volatile place, but you will notice that this is also a time that we are being asked to pause. To re-set. To re-think. To find gratitude and perspective. In fact, we are being given a gift of time, to be present with loved ones, but also to be present with ourselves. To take stock of your current choices, achievements, and most of all, your future potential. Are you on track towards where you want to go? Have you been enjoying your day to day work? Are you excited about your overall path? Have you felt at all that you weren’t on the right path? If you have any doubt (most of us are not nearly at or close to 100% career clarity/certainty), you can improve that your career clarity with the steps I’ll list out below.
What does career exploration entail?
- Reflection on your interests — what it is you love doing, what topics/content you love, and what environments you thrive in
- Translating your interests into potential real-world opportunities — target roles, industries and companies
- LEARNING about these options (research, networking as a way to learn, and experiential learning)
- Reflection — as you learn, you’ll reflect on what you’re hearing. You’ll lean in closer to the options you enjoy learning about and weed out the options that sound boring to you.
- With patience and persistence through these steps (usually over the course of ~3 months), you will reach a point of clarity and confidence in your ideal career path.
Does career exploration really work?
If you still have career options, you haven’t yet done enough learning or reflection. Different paths are different for a reason. It’s your job to understand those differences and how they relate to you.
Our favorite story is a teacher who came to us and knew that it was the wrong job and environment for her. After going through our process, she realized she was passionate about corporate project management. She took a course to gain skills and get certified, and then we supported her job search and now she’s happy as a clam in a role and company that is distinctly more suitable for her.
Holly claims that “the best part about working with Woken was being able to trust that there IS a job out there that will be a fantastic fit for me. It gave me the confidence to change careers and the resources I needed to find my new path and establish it firmly.
So, why does this matter for you?
I could list statistics about how being engaged in your works makes you happier and more successful, but the bottom line is you know how it feels to be disengaged at work. It affects your mindset, your daily life, your happiness, your relationships, and your overall professional potential.
Gallup defines being disengaged at work as ”emotionally disconnected from their work and workplace and jeopardize their teams’ performance.” Gallup defines being engaged at work as “those who are involved in, enthusiastic about and committed to their work and workplace.”
You decide which category you want to be in.
Serving up some final inspiration for you:
There is a different way and a different outcome. We haven’t had easy access to it in our school environments or even through most career coaches, and that’s why the WOKEN team has been working hard to bring this process to every single professional out there.
We’d love to help you through your individual career exploration process! Learn more about us how we can help.
Hear more from other individuals that we’ve helped through the process:
“The talk we had was one that I really needed…I feel like I broke out of my own head. That one conversation we had really changed the course of my semester/next few years.” — Rachel A.
“Taking the time to step back, breathe, and reflect on what I really want to do has proven to be such an important first step — the rest of my career search has a newfound purpose and focus.” — Jeff D.
“You were really the first person to push me to focus on what *I* wanted to do, rather than using it as a relative tiebreaker factor. “ — Barbara G.
“It does feel good to be able to proactively tackle and work through a series of processes that will get me closer to my goal. I actually feel like I am taking action, rather than idly (and pessimistically) wondering about my future.” — Eric
“I am already feeling more hope than I have felt in a long time.” — Molly
“Your slogan should be ‘the official next steps after big four.” — Naomi