How to figure out what’s next for your career

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If you haven’t been there yet, most of you will be at some point. You’ve been at your job for a while and want a new challenge. It’s a natural want that comes about in your career and while some of us might know what that next move will look like, life has a way of demonstrating that our careers don’t usually pan out the way we imagine. I’ve definitely asked myself this question a few times throughout my career. I was always sure of what my passion was but knew that it could be expressed in so many different ways. This is where connecting with others and having an open mind came in handy many times. So how do you answer this question when you aren’t clear yet on what you want to do next?

1. Figure out what you’re naturally good at
This doesn’t mean what you want to do but what you’re actually good at. Hopefully the answers to both of those questions will match up but first you must conduct an honest assessment. This can be accomplished by asking colleagues, friends, business associates, family members or anyone who you have a relationship with to tell you from their point of view, what they think you have a natural talent for. Make sure to assure them that you want an honest answer. You should ask a minimum of 5 people that represent different areas of your life but feel free to ask as many people as you see fit to get your answers.

2. Make an honest assessment
Take all of the answers and assess the common themes.  In some cases you will not get the exact answer multiple times but the answers will correlate and therefore you can group them together. Create a list of your core strengths.

3. Write down your interests
Your interests should include the things you enjoy doing both professionally and personally. What aspect of your current or past jobs did you enjoy? What do you enjoy doing in your personal time.

4. Pair your strengths with your interests
Evaluate your strengths and interests and begin to assess what professional opportunities necessitate your strengths and are attractive to you based on your interests. If you don’t have the answer right away, it’s OK. Keep that list handy for the next step.

5. Start making connections
Based on your strengths, start looking for individuals who demonstrate those strengths and ask to connect with them. If you have a list of opportunities you would like to explore based on your list, then reach out to people who work in those areas and connect with them.

The goal of this exercise is to create a blueprint for your research and figure out the best strategy for seeking out connections. Having conversations with others will provide you with so much insight and unexpected opportunities.

If you have a question or are interested in learning more, connect with me.

RJ Johns