To uncover as many career ideas as possible, I suggest both brainstorming and asking others about their career journeys. Here’s why: There is no website out there that provides a complete list of career ideas, so getting firsthand information from others often adds helpful insights. Brainstormings with those who know you can pinpoint your skills and suggest how to use them. They can review previous jobs and how you handled them. They have a history with you. At the same time, friends and family may unconsciously try to pigeonhole you. So take their feedback, say “Thank you,” and spend some time mulling over their comments.
Those who don’t know you well – such as a career coach, participants in a coaching group, or former co-workers you were merely acquaintanced with – can provide a more objective opinion. My experience is that in every coaching group, someone says something I would not have thought of; and my clients have gotten their best career ideas from another participant in the group.
David came to a group coaching session with great news. He had invited five of his close friends for dinner the previous weekend. For about three hours they brainstormed career ideas for him based on what they knew about his personality, experience, and talents. By dessert, he had thirty new career ideas! Of course he wasn’t going to consider all of them; but the point is he had many more ideas than he had before.
Asking others about their journeys differs from brainstorming in that the conversation is about “them” instead of about “you.” When you are clarifying your dream job, it’s helpful to talk with others who are also in the process of doing the same thing or who have already completed the process. They can share valuable tips from first-hand experience. Start by looking among family members, friends, or someone in your professional network who loves their work. Ask how they identified what they wanted to do, the successes and failures they dealt with, and what they learned from both.
Often we don’t fully understand how our talents and experience can combine into unique career ideas. Others see connections we don’t see, because it’s harder to be objective about our own experiences.
Action step: Think about David’s approach. Call three friends in the next week and chat with them about your career for a minimum of fifteen minutes. Write down what you learn
Hallie Crawford is a certified career coach and founder of Create Your Career Path. Her team of coaches helps people find their dream job and make it a reality. She is regularly featured as an expert in the media including the Wall Street Journal, CNN, and US News & World Report. Visit her website at www.createyourcareerpath.com for more information about her teams career coaching services and to sign up for a complimentary consultation.