Sunday, September 7, 2008

Career advice

On Saturday, I had breakfast at my favorite brekkie dive with a really good friend. What I love about sitting with her is that she is in management, but not HR so when we talk, she speaks operationally and I learn all kinds of things. It's mostly about people, smart people doing dumb things or quite possibly, dumb people doing even dumber things. But this Saturday was different; we talked about her, which is even more fun because she is smart and does smart things.   I cherish these kinds of people. 

She hit the wall recently - restless, unsettled, wanting more but not really sure where to find it or where to even start. She is in a unique field (hair) and has exceptional talent but is also fabulous at seeing people and issues and sorting them out. She is on top where she is, managing the business, solid clientele, great job, etc, etc but is wondering if this is it.  Is there more? And the best question to ask, what else could I be doing? I can't answer that for her but I gave her some ideas.  

She does need to finish her degree (she currently has an AA) if she wants to reinvent herself.   She can't decide if she wants to do that or not.   I vote yes but I don't have to do the work.  Only she can decide the answer.   We also talked about the difference in wanting to LEAVE a job versus the desire for a particular job.  The job hunt, skills assessment, reinvention starts with the desire to leave but I encouraged her to be more intentional with her transition.   I would like to see her decide WHERE she wants to be using a host of tools, resources, friends and business contacts before she throws together a resume and gets out there.  I have a colleague who does career development on the side, someone who is NOT her friend and can provide assessment and some counseling, as well as direction and professional support.   This would be a great start.  

It won't be easy.  This market is nothing short of painful.  She is well established in her current role and it will be a financial transition as well as a cultural transition for her.   I also encouraged her to consider volunteer opportunities, in her church or in the community,  to 'try' work that may be of interest to her.   

The easy answer is to stay put, ride out the restlessness and maintain status quo.  I am not a fan of that answer.   But short of a magic wand, this will be a lot of work.  Anyone been through this? Any other recommendations?  

1 comment:

Careerguyd said...

There is rarely a simple solution for those who are at a point of career transition, but do not yet know exactly what it is that they want to do. It sounds like you have guided your friend fairly well in spite of this complexity.

Exploration is key, and volunteering at any capacity is good advice since it will allow her to network with individuals who are in occupations that she is not familiar with and they might be able to identify opportunities for her that she has not yet considered. She can learn much through informational interviewing as well.

Assessments can often be used as shortcuts in the process, I strongly believe that what is more important than the assessment tool is having an appropriate person help interpret the results. I am assuming that your career development friend has the appropriate background and experience to refer your friend to her, but you might also see if there is somebody in your general area that specializes in career counseling.

A good resource to start would be the National Career Development Association website which has a directory of career counselors and career development professionals:

Career development is essentially part of the quest for self-knowledge--and that is often a life-long quest. There have been many in your friend's position who have gone on to find exciting careers.