When I’m coaching people on their careers, many people come to me at a crossroads. They know they are ready for something different but not sure what that is. I call this the Exploratory Stage. It’s a great stage to be in because there are so many options to explore. However, I find most people struggle with it because they want to know, with certainty, what it is they are meant to do next. Us humans don’t handle the in the meantime all that well.
That’s why I’ve listed a few tips for tackling career crossroads below.
Take advantage of being in the Exploratory Stage. This is actually a great time to let your imagination and curiosity take over. Instead of looking for answers, switch it up to looking for possibilities. As adults, we have gotten so caught up in whether or not we are making the right decisions we have forgotten how to be open and receptive to what’s out there. Instead of discounting certain industries, companies or locations, allow yourself to look at everything. After all, you don’t have to do anything. You’re just looking for now. Your goal should be to let your mind wander and see what calls to you.
Go where there is growth. If you’re going through the meantime and sense you’ll be there for a while then why not go where they are paying? At least make sure that you are taking the time to explore opportunities that could also support your financial goals. Check out Glassdoor’s recent reports of 25 Highest Paying Jobs for 2019 and 25 Highest Paying Companies for 2019. You’ll find a wide variety of industries and specialties.
Of course pay is not everything, but when you’re in a place that you don’t know where to go, why not start where the pay is good? The reason this is important beyond the money is that where there is job growth there is often change in the direction of company or industry growth. With that comes more opportunities to make your mark and contribute to the future of what can be done.
Be open to different industries and functions. In most, if not all industries, there’s no longer the old fashioned theory that you have to grow up in the industry to be of any value. In fact, having a diverse background in your field can really help you advance and broaden your leadership capabilities. Focus on marketing your transferrable skills like managing others, systems thinking, project management, service mindset, etc. Taking a leap to another industry or different function might just be the shake up you needed to get clear as to what you want your career to ultimately look like and mean.
Don’t count out your current company too soon! They may have that next chapter you need in another function or segment of the organization. Have you really explored all your options? Have you reached out to your manager to even discuss what the possibilities are? And if you feel like speaking with your manager is a dead end, consider connecting with one of the recruiters. They have a front row seat to the opportunities available across the organization.
Breathe. Last but not least, take it easy. It can feel stressful if you put too much emphasis on yourself to know the exact next best step. But if you can sit back a bit and trust your instincts and capability to tackle whatever career challenges come your way, even a wrong turn can lead to an interesting and beneficial experience to add to your résumé.
In the end, if you take advantage of your time in the Exploratory Stage you are bound to find your next career adventure. I have found people that empower themselves to carve out their own path tend to have higher levels of job satisfaction simply due to the fact that they are where they chose to be vs. someone choosing for them.