Society has never been able to answer the age-old question “how do I figure out what to do with my life?” and oftentimes people roam through life never having answered it. Through personal job search experience, hundreds of referrals to coach professionals struggling to navigate their career journeys, an understanding of the limitations and best practices of today’s job search ecosystem, and my coaching training, I have developed a process that individuals can use to finally, effectively, confidently answer that daunting question.
Why is this the best time for career exploration?
The world is in a volatile place, and while there are many things outside of our control, this is also an opportunity to focus inward on what you can control. It’s an opportune moment to think about your role in society and whether your work is challenging you, fulfilling you, and energizing you? When nothing else seems to be going right, you should at least feel certain that you are intentionally tapping into your skills and interests and making an impact you believe in. This is the perfect time to take stock of your current choices, achievements, and most of all, your future potential. On a scale of 0–10, how clear do you feel that you know which career path is best for you? We’re here to tell you that there are steps you can take to ensure you feel confident and clear in your path forward, and we’ll tell you how to get there.
What is career exploration?
Career exploration is a process that is distinct (and a precursor to) the job search, including a series of steps of practical learning and self-reflection in order to compare, contrast, and clarify which career path you are confident in pursuing. This process was developed with several foundational underpinnings: open-ended questioning, design thinking, rapid learning and iterating. Think: prototyping for your career.
Real-World Application for You: How can you “do” career exploration?
- First, reflect on your interests — what it is you love doing, what topics/content do you love, and what environments do you thrive in?
- Translate your interests into potential real-world opportunities — target roles, industries and companies
- Learn deeply about each of these role and industry options (online research, networking as a way to learn, and experiential learning)
- Continuous reflection and iteration — as you learn, reflect on what you’re hearing. Lean in closer to the options you enjoy learning about and weed out the options that sound like they are not a fit for you. Learning drives clarity. 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 what that means for 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.
Benefits and impacts on your career
I could list statistics about how being engaged in your works makes you happier and more successful, but the bottom line is that 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.