It is time to polish those dress shoes and update your résumé. It is time to move on from your current organization and find a place that appreciates you more. After all, you have dreams. You have aspirations. You have a career path you have been following since you graduated high school. It is time for action. But wait! Before you pull up Word to start editing your outdated résumé, follow these three “must do” strategies to ensure success.
Take an honest look at your core personality and what really makes you tick. And, no, I do not mean falling back on your desire to be a chief executive officer, technical expert, or high-powered salesperson. You need to spend some introspective time finding out what role is going to be a good fit for your core personality. Start with some online personality assessments such as DiSC, Myers-Briggs, Predictive Index, and many others. Find one that appeals to you, take the time to go through the assessment, and spend quality time with the results.
Personally, I am a fan of the DiSC personality assessment, where the letters stand for D–Dominant, i–influence, S–Steadiness, or C–Conscientiousness.It is simple: You will find you are either a D, i, S, or C style. Once you have your results, you will have a better understanding of “why” you like certain work situations and avoid or dislike other situations.
To take this step to the next level, I encourage you to do some additional research to find a career coach in your local area, or someone who can work with you remotely. Employing a career coach will give you someone with whom you can discuss your next career move and the results of your personality assessment. My coaching clients who have taken this extra step have been incredibly happy with their subsequent career move, even if it meant staying in their current role with a new mind-set.
The first time a work colleague suggested I do some journaling about a work issue I was faced with, I looked at him like he had two heads. After all, I was above the need to write about my feelings, was I not? But after another week or two of frustration over the work issue and my inability to move things in a positive direction, I decided to listen to my colleague’s advice. I pulled out a fresh pad of paper, one of my favorite pens, and sat down in a quiet room to start journaling. Thirty minutes passed quickly as I started an outline, jotted down thoughts and opinions, and doodled in the margins. When the alarm on my phone signaled my next meeting was ready to start, I looked down at my now-full sheet of paper and realized I had just given myself a number of “ah‑ha” moments about my issue. I walked out of the room feeling empowered to take some action to resolve the situation positively in which the parties could feel we had come to a win-win-win solution.
Embracing the art of journaling is a great tool for everyone in any stage of their career—life, school, or retirement. Taking the time to write your thoughts, impressions, hopes, desires, and concerns in a private notebook or Evernote application or Word document is therapeutic and revealing. Over the next 21 days, if you set aside just 5 minutes a day in the morning, during an afternoon break, or before retiring for the night, you will be surprised at the clarity of mind you will gain, the joy you will feel in the discipline in such a private practice, and the life-altering thoughts you will find written on your clean sheet of paper.
When I started my consulting business in 2011, I looked back at the jobs I had performed throughout my career in human resources (HR). To my surprise, I was not inspired by the high-powered, corporate HR jobs in which I was responsible for a large team. The job that suited my personality best, and where I had the most fun, was a job I held at a large insurance company. I was one of a team of HR professionals tasked with transforming the insurance claim organization. It was a difficult job because we were faced with changing roles, eliminating poor performers, and interviewing current employees for newly created jobs. But with my energy and drive, I was in heaven.
I used my empathy for others to look at the transformation from their perspectives, and as a result, I was successful in helping to lead the organization through a major transformation over several years. My hours were long, my work was unpredictable, I had to think on my feet, and I could not have been happier.
Here is how you can easily find your true inspiration: Draw yourself a Y- and an X-axis. On the vertical axis, use the scale of 0 to 10, with 0 being “Not Inspired” and 10 being “Most Inspired.” On the horizontal axis, start with the earliest age you can remember and take it out to the right to reach your current age. Along the horizontal axis, list your education and each of your jobs. Quickly, without thinking too much, plot each position/role along the vertical Inspire axis. Go with your gut reaction as you think through which jobs provided you with the most inspiration.
You should soon see some patterns emerging. Which of your jobs did you rate highest during your career walk? Were you in a leadership role? Were you responsible for large budgets and multinational teams? Were you a solo contributor responsible for your own work? Were you in a technical role? Were you able to use your education and training?
Was the work totally unrelated to your education? Were you in a role in which you had to think on the fly and make things up as you went along? Were you to follow a well-written script and work a set number of hours per day? Were you putting in a crazy number of hours but incredibly happy because it did not feel like work?
There are no wrong answers! This is your career walk. Taking the time to figure out what inspires you the most is key to making your next move a wise move.
I rated the transformational role in the insurance company as a 10 when it came to inspiration. As a result of the self-awareness I gained through my career walk, I was able to design my own consulting business to target clients needing the same type of work I performed. And, I can honestly say I am always inspired when helping organizations and individuals transform themselves. I rarely feel like I am going to work.
Take the time to follow these three strategies. Once you are done, you will have a better idea of where your next career move is going to take you. You may end up in a new organization, starting your own business, or traveling the globe in a new sales role.
However, you may find that you are polishing your dress shoes and updating your résumé to better impress those in your current organization. After all, you know the people and now you know yourself, how to work through your issues, and what inspires you. Go out and find it. And, do not be surprised if it is right under your nose—in your current role.
Nancy Furbee has more than 20 years of leadership experience in all facets of the human resources profession. Furbee has certifications in Everything DiSC Personality Assessments and Compression Planning Facilitation. She holds a master’s degree in human resources management and a bachelor’s in finance from La Roche College, and is a graduate of Leadership Pittsburgh.