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It's never too late to grow up

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Saturday, Nov. 17, 2012, 8:56 p.m.
 

Lately, I've been hearing from a lot of people who are trying to figure out what they want to be when they grow up. The only problem is, they are already grown up.

Maybe they are a few years out of college and struggling to find a niche, or maybe they have been employed for years but are unfulfilled. Whatever the stage of life, this is a troubling and perplexing dilemma for anyone to face.

With a new year ahead, even if you have not been thinking much about your career, I encourage you to analyze it now. If you are not on the right path, continuing down that path has many implications, none of them good. You might never earn the income you could have earned. You will not make the kind of contribution you could have made to the world. You will not be as fulfilled as you could be. You might even end up terminated by an employer who doesn't see your worth as a worker.

If you decide you need a career change, here are some suggestions.

• Start off with some time-tested books, such as, “What Color Is Your Parachute” by Richard N. Bolles or “I Could Do Anything If I Only Knew What It Was” by Barbara Sher.

• While you're in the careers section of the library, take note of which books and job titles you are drawn to. Are they in healthcare? Engineering? Working outdoors? We can all succeed in many jobs and career paths. Just get a broad sense for what appeals to you, then do the research later.

• It's helpful to review any career interest or personality tests you have taken in your education or career. Along those lines, you may also want to read another book: “Do What You Are: Discover the Perfect Career for You Through the Secrets of Personality Type” by Paul D. Tieger and Barbara Barron-Tieger.

• Connect with people in your network for more ideas. Ask direct questions, such as, “If you were a hiring manager, what kinds of jobs would you probably hire me for?” or “What industries (or corporate culture or size of employer) do you think would suit me best and why?” or “Which of my personality traits or aspects of my behavior do you think employers would value most?” By asking specific questions, you will likely get specific answers.

• Make a list of all your interests, skills, and values. Imagine what kinds of jobs would match up with them and see which of them resonate with you.

Employers rarely have the time or inclination to guide you through your career path. And it is extremely unusual for an employee to remain with the same employer throughout one's career. So, managing your career is up to one person — you.

Chris Posti, president of Posti & Associates in Pittsburgh, is author of “The Shortest Distance between You and Your New Job,” available on Amazon.com. Email your questions to her at chris@postiinc.com.

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