How to plot your next career move
I’ve spent my career wandering. When the path seemed interesting and scary, I followed it. If I needed a skill I didn’t have, I chose a path where I could learn it.
It’s easy to get lost on the path. It’s easy to get distracted from what we really want by status, money or comparisons to our peer group. It’s easy to think that there is a single career path to follow or limited options.
At some point you are going to stop walking and try and figure out where you are and where you want to go or you will be forced to choose. When I was forced to chose, a friend gave me a tool to help me figure out what I really wanted. This simple exercise has helped me and folks on my team figure out what we want so we can plan together on how to get there. This is the one I made a year ago.
Map your interests and strengths
Think about all of the activities usually done in your role or industry and plot them on a 2×2 matrix. The X axis should show how good at something you are and the y axis is how much you are interested in it. Base your strengths on feedback from your colleagues or ask them directly for input.
Identify your needs
As you look back on your career what environments and role did you do best in and what did your really like about them? What do you need to be successful?
- Problem solving
Also look back at the jobs you’ve had and the environments you’ve worked in then document what bugs the crap out of you.
Do a gut check
To humans everything is relative, it can be very easy to get stuck in what you think the answers should be instead of what they are. Take a hard look at your answers and ask yourself if this is reality or what you think it should be.
Years ago I had a team member who wanted to be promoted so I discussed it with our assigned HR person. I asked about the process and requirements when she stopped me dead in my tracks and asked “why does he want to be promoted?” I must sheepishly admit that I didn’t know. Turns out he was looking for more money and at that company money was easier to get than a promotion. Knowing what he really wanted made it easier to help us.
Take a step
Review your assessment with your manager, a mentor, a trusted colleague. See what you can do in your current role and company to get you closer to what you’re looking for.
Image: The virgin river at Zion National Park in Utah