The Challenge of Choosing the Right Career

Steve Pavlina has written a great blog on the challenge of choosing the right career. You can read it at http://www.stevepavlina.com/blog/2007/11/the-challenge-of-choosing-the-right-career/.

Whatever career (or non-career) path you take and however ‘good’ or ‘bad’ you find it, it is possible to gain something positive out of it, if you choose to look at life in that way.

When I was a student I took a holiday job working in administration for a high street bank (the sort you and I go to). I quickly knew that this type of organisation would not suit me for a permanent career as it had so many rules and regulations, leaving little opportunity to use initiative. And the level of detail involved was incredible! None of my strengths that I like using were relevant at all.

There is solid evidence (linked to positive psychology) that when you can use your strengths in your work, it is better for all concerned.

So if you’re trying to work out what career to choose, one area I’d strongly recommend you consider looking at is where your strengths lie. When you know this you can then think what types of career might require you to use them.

Top 5 Reasons CVs End Up in the Bin

Here’s an article that will be of interest to people writing their CV – Top 5 Reasons Why most CVs End Up in the Bin: http://gradvert.wordpress.com/2010/08/10/to-bin-or-not-to-bin-top-5-reasons-why-most-cvs-end-up-in-the-bin/.

I would add two other types of mistakes people make:

– sometimes people forget the purpose of the CV, which is to get them an interview, not the job!
– assuming the person sifting the CVs knows technical shortforms – often CVs are sifted by people with no experience in the field whatsoever.

Naturally before you get to this stage you need to know what work you would love to do. This is a separate topic for the future.

Richard Branson’s 5 secrets to business success

Here are Richard Branson’s 5 secrets to business success: http://www.entrepreneur.com/article/217284.

If you want a job in an organisation, rather than set up your own, these secrets may help you look at any recruiting organisation and check what culture they have. In so doing it helps to know what’s important to you – what do you value? This includes a variety of matters (in no particular order):

Firstly, what personal values do you have that need to be present in the organisation? For instance, if you value teamwork and you find out that the company seems to stress individual contribution, with competition between colleagues being encouraged, you are unlikely to flourish in such an environment. Your values are part of what motivates you – if your core values are not in align with the organisation it will certainly be at best neutral and at worst a real de-motivator and energy sapper.

Secondly, which type of organisation appeals? For instance, a relative of mine knew he wanted to work in non-profit organisations as that fits his values – indeed that’s what he has always done and he’s really enjoying his work. I knew I liked working in the private sector, yet knew I wouldn’t want to work for a company that is involved in producing and selling cigarettes because I didn’t want to support something that is detrimental to people’s health.

Thirdly, what sorts of role interest you? One client of mine was pondering about being a nurse. However, once she knew more about her own working style preferences, she recognised that she would find the relative level of similarity in what takes place each day and limited opportunity to use her initiative would mean she would quickly become bored – not good after investing time and money to train!

Fourthly, where do you want to work? This includes options like town/country, different parts of UK, another country, no set location, etc. You may appreciate that for a period of time to get your career up and running, your ideal location may not be possible, but later on it will. I found that it was fine to work in a city as long as it was feasible to live in the countryside. It could be the opposite for you!

Finally, under what working conditions do you wish to work? I was reading a discussion on the Guardian Career Forum (http://careers.guardian.co.uk/forums) and one person liked her existing working conditions as it gave her so much flexibility yet her job was not what she wanted – and she had the opportunity to apply for internal promotion into a job she’d really enjoy but the terms of employment meant she would lose the flexibility. In that situation she needed to look at the picture as a whole and include the longer term too.

This summarises what people, who are looking for work they’d love and enjoy, need to do too!