Map out your best career path
As the saying goes, “If you don't know where you're going, any road will get you there.”
No matter where you are in your career, do you have a plan for where you want to go? Some people give little thought to the concept of being in charge of their career path; others need time to figure it out; and others know their direction from an early age.
Kevin, for example, was fascinated by filmmaking by the age of 6. While watching movies with his parents, he would ask questions like “Where is the camera in this shot?” and at playtime and throughout his school years, he made movies, using his siblings and friends as actors. In high school, he taught himself to use film editing and animation software. Two years out of college, Kevin is post-production supervisor for a studio that produces a TV show in Canada.
Brandon also loved making movies, and he made them throughout high school and in his early years at college. But once he started exploring careers, he realized he was on the wrong path and switched to a business major. Now, at 28, Brandon has established himself in outside sales for an international manufacturing firm and is pleased with the direction of his career.
Maybe your direction has not been so obvious to you. If so, look back over your life and see if there were any sparks of interest that you did not pursue. See if there have been common threads in your career to date — maybe all the jobs you have enjoyed required strong analytical skills, or being outdoors, or solving what seemed like an unsolvable problem.
Make a list of activities you have enjoyed — from mundane tasks like organizing closets to grand adventures like trekking through Europe. Think about how you spent your spare time as a child and how you spend it now — what patterns do you see? Peruse the Careers section of your local library to see which jobs or career fields resonate with you.
Consider attending a program like Priority Two's “Finding your Gifts” workshop. Dick Horn is the executive director of Priority Two (www.ptwo.org), a faith-based job-search ministry in Wexford. According to Horn, the Finding your Gifts program “concentrates on helping you identify activities throughout your life which you enjoyed doing, did well, and created good results. From written descriptions of 10 or 15 of these events, you'll look for the common threads — what kinds of things you liked doing, ways you worked well and easily, and the kinds of results you are best at producing.” Horn says facilitators and other participants work with you to help you connect the dots.
Horn says that such research helps you eliminate jobs that aren't good fits. “If you love being out and connecting with people, you don't want to take a job in the back office writing reports,” Horn says. Knowing your capabilities “demonstrates to prospective employers that your set of gifts and experiences uniquely meets their needs, and once you land a job you will use those talents to do the job more effectively. ”
The average age of attendees in the workshop is about 50. So as you can see, it's never too late to find out where you are going.
Chris Posti is president of Posti & Associates in Pittsburgh. She can be reached via e-mailor at 724-344-1668.