When most people consider making a career change, they often start by looking at what other job postings are out there, reviewing the lists of qualifications, and seeing if they meet enough of those to apply.
Unfortunately, that’s not a very holistic – or even optimistic – way of going about such a transition.
Comparing yourself to a long list of requirements makes you feel less-than from the beginning. So, you can imagine how that attitude will affect the rest of your job search, and your hopes for finding something better.
The reality is, most companies outline these requirements as a quick way of disqualifying people, because the recruiters on the other end are overwhelmed by applications they often don’t know how to process.
And the reality under that is most organizations over-rely on these sets of qualifications, as if checking all those boxes means they’ll have the right person in front of them. Instead, the process of hiring is really more art than science – sure, there may be some skills or experiences that ARE required to do a certain job. But not 20 of them.
When I spend time with my coaching clients to identify their values, their deal-breakers, and their strengths, these pieces start coming together to reveal possibilities for roles and industries that are worth exploring.
For some people, it can feel overwhelming to start from a blank page, so it can help to have ideas to try on, to see if they might fit, or if they bring up other ideas. A career inventory is one way to help you think beyond what you are already familiar with.
The goal at this stage in the process is to find a way – whether through online assessments or by working with a coach – to generate a list of possible ideas. These are potential jobs or career paths that seem to match up with the values you hold, and the strengths and experiences you have. (And at this stage, there’s no such thing as too many possibilities!)
Explore and Research
Once you have this list of possible ideas, it becomes more feasible to begin researching real-life opportunities. You can start by reviewing job postings with similar titles, understanding more about some industries you don’t know as well, and even beginning to do some networking to get a realistic picture of what people in these jobs do all day.
As you do this research, remember it is still exploration – some things will clearly feel they are not the right fit, and that is as valuable to know as what does feel like a fit. Since you’ll be starting with a fairly long list to begin with, the process will lead you to a narrower set of opportunities to pursue.
And, it’s important to remember: don’t disqualify yourself as you go through this exploration. You’re just learning and understanding – and later on, you can get a more grounded sense of how your strengths and skills match up, or what other steps to take before pursuing your longer-term goals.