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You Need To Be Practical. The 5 Minute Career Coach September 2011
September 01, 2011

Helping Career Changers Around The World

September 2011


Welcome to the September 2011 edition of The 5 Minute Career Coach.

What's in this Issue

Cherry's CakeI just baked a cake this morning – and I am pleased to say it tastes very good! Not sure what brought that one on, but I do find that from time to time, it is very rewarding to do something hands on, especially when the outcome is edible!

I guess this is all about having a balance in life, using all your skills, tapping into both left brain and right brain. And this pretty well applies to everything you do – including changing career.

My article this month is all about being practical. This notion is often thrown at the would- be career changer as a warning, a suggestion that the idea of changing career is quite the opposite of practical, indeed is probably foolhardy in the extreme.

Well I think being practical is actually part of making a successful career change, so read on to find out how your career change can be a practical proposition.

Oh, and if you'd like the recipe for the cake, just drop me a line and I'll send it!

With best wishes

But You Have To Be Practical...

'But you have to be practical...' How often have you heard that from people – or even from that little voice in your own head – when you are thinking about the new career you would love to break into.

It's curious, isn't it, that 'being practical' so often seems to mean, 'just stay put and carry on with what you are doing'. So what is it about doing nothing that is so 'practical'? How is it 'practical' to imagine that your current situation is your best bet – especially if you are not happy with it? You are constantly growing and changing and the circumstances of your life are doing the same around you, so it would seem to me that it is much more 'practical' to be constantly reviewing your career, and your life, and to be ready and willing to make adjustments as you go along.

But to me, being practical means taking some action that is concrete and measurable, collecting facts, doing research. And this is a crucial element of any career change.

I have written a lot about getting the mindset right so that your career change flows more smoothly, but there is a lot of practical stuff that is an essential part of the process too.

So let's kick the left brain into gear and consider some of the practical steps you could be taking.

Getting really practical
Information is the key to working out what career to try next. Research the career ideas you like the sound of. What are the typical daily tasks, what skills are required, what qualifications do you usually need, what is the culture of this industry or business like, who are the clients you would be serving, what is a typical starting salary etc etc..

There are many more questions like this you could ask to build up a detailed picture of the job.

Begin with online research if you like as that is a good way of getting started, but make sure you get out and talk to people too. Use your own network of friends to find people in the area of work you are interested in and arrange to meet them informally. Read more about doing informational interviews on the How To Change Careers website.

But don't forget that these days, you really have the world at your fingertips too. Use Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn to reach out to people who may be able to give you tips and advice about your new career ideas.

Another idea is to look out for job ads that sound appealing and then send off for the full job details. You may not have any intention of applying just now, but you will collect valuable information from looking job descriptions and person specifications.

If you are interested in a particular sector, then make sure you subscribe to some relevant journals and blogs so you can keep up to date with what is going on in the field. Being up to date will help if you do any informational interviews and will also give you ideas about possible openings into the sector.

And of course if your new career idea involves possibly setting up on your own, then there is a whole raft of additional information you need to collect on potential markets, materials & suppliers, premises, finance etc..

And talking of finance, of course money is a real issue, so what practical steps could you be taking from today onwards that would help you save for the point when you either go back to college, change career or start your own business. Even cutting out a few luxuries and saving the money could lead to a useful sum in the bank in a few months time. You'll find more practical advice on the money issues on the How To Change Careerswebsite

Collect and keep all of this information in a Career Change Project File so you can refer back to it regularly. You can map it all against what you discover about yourself and in this way, assess how good a fit the new career is for you.

So I am all for being practical. I think it is a great idea – just as long as it doesn't mean doing 'practically nothing'!

Something To Think About

"We should not to wait for inspiration to start a thing. Action always generates inspiration. Inspiration seldom generates action.
~Frank Tibolt~

Recommended Resources

Build Your Own Rainbow
A Workbook for Career & Life Management
Barrie Hopson & Mike Scally

In keeping with my theme this month, this is a very practical book on career change. As the title suggests, it is a workbook filled with exercises for you to do in your own time and at your own pace to help you work out where you want to go next with your career.

It follows a structured 6-stage process to help clarify where you are now, where you want to get to and how to get there. The sections cover:

  • Who Am I?

  • Where Am I Now?

  • How Satisfied Am I?

  • What Changes Do I Want?

  • How Do I Make Them Happen?

  • What If It Doesn’t Work Out?

There is a lot to work through, so I recommend that you dip in and try the exercises that appeal to you first. As I suggest on the How To Change Careers website, keep all the results together in the Career Change Project File. You will find you gradually build up a picture of who you are and what will be the right career for you.

The book was written some time ago, but the contents and exercises are just as useful now as when they were first developed so it is still definitely worth adding to your collection of career change support materials.

More recommendations
If you would like to see more recommendations for books and similar resources, follow the link to the Career Change Books page of the How To Change Careers website. Do keep popping back to it as I am adding to it all the time.

And if there are books, websites and other resources that have inspired you and that you would like to recommend, there is a place for you to do so on that page.

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