"Choosing a career is giving yourself permission to be who you are." —Dr. Howard E. Figler, author and career counselor
A career is best when it suits your requirements, desires, and aptitudes. All of these factors change throughout our lives, and so career development is a cycle that can be split into four steps: discover, define, present, and promote. Discovery, definition, and presentation are typically behind-the-scenes work that support promotion.
In the discovery phase, you identify needs, desires, aptitudes, and values that guide your decisions. Discovery requires introspection, which can be a hefty task but will grant you invaluable self-knowledge. If digging into your values, likes, and dislikes seems intimidating or tedious, not to worry. Here are four questions to guide your self-discovery.
When does time pass quickly?
Forget about your career for a minute. Instead, think about what you like doing. What activity never gets boring, or what subject never loses your interest? Also consider what you don’t like, which tasks or topics have absolutely no appeal to you. Don’t worry about aptitude here; being good at something doesn’t mean you have to enjoy it, and not having a skill doesn’t preclude you from gaining it.
What are you passionate about?
Of the things you like doing, what sounds most bearable for roughly 40 hours per week? Maybe your favorite hobby is knitting, but knitting eight hours at a time would take the fun out of it. Every job will have some duties that are tedious or frustrating, but passion for some part of your position — a worthy cause or a lifelong interest — will make challenges easier to deal with. Your passion doesn’t have to be part of your career directly. If you’re an avid traveler, perhaps a high salary will be more important to your job selection than involving travel in your career. Identifying your passions will help you set priorities, and prioritizing will be essential to decision-making.
What sets you apart from others?
With your priorities in mind, identify your greatest strengths. These aptitudes may be skills from previous positions or natural talents that have potential to support your career. Be creative when listing your strengths. Experience comes from everywhere, and even if a previous job isn’t in the same field as your ideal career, soft skills will likely carry over.
What value do you bring to employers?
Although many of us were taught not to brag, career development requires you to talk about yourself — frequently and favorably. Start practicing authentic self-promotion here. You know what skills and talents you have, so think about how exactly those apply to a career. Some of these may be obvious, like you’re great at coding and want to go into software development. Others leave more room for creativity; if every birthday party you’ve thrown for your kids has been a hit, maybe others could benefit from your event planning skills.
In a single job search, you’ll move through some of or all the steps, possibly not in the traditional order. Throughout a career, you will go through the cycle many times. Check in with each step at every career decision; in times of transition, you may have to spend additional time on self-discovery. Priorities, which stem from your needs, interests, and values, will change over time, and your answers to the questions above will develop. Whether positive or negative, gradual or sudden, changes to our lives should prompt a fresh round of self-discovery.
Looking for more information?
Set up a virtual meeting with one of our certified Career Coaches through the Book a Learning Coach form or by calling 803-929-3400. After you submit, we will contact you to set an appointment. Our team provides help with interviewing skills, your résumé, interest/skills assessments, and more. Follow Richland Library on LinkedIn for career development tips and tidbits.