‘Tis The Season: The 12 Days Of Career Change

As the calendar turns toward 2016 and we’re crafting our resolution list, the question of whether it’s time to make a career change often pops up. Related: What's The First Step When You're Ready For A Career Change? If the answer for you is a resounding “Yes!” use this handy outline to waltz through the process and make 2016 your best career year yet.


Don’t Confuse Resumes With Partridges In Pear Trees

Okay, I know I’m mixing metaphors, but indulge me. The first step most people make in this process is to polish their resumes and start surfing the job boards. Decide on your target BEFORE you write your resume. Take the time to define where you’re going so that you can plot the path to get there rather than just jump ship from where you are. Just going away from something doesn’t necessarily mean that you’re going towards a better option.

Are Turtle Doves What’s Near And Dear To Your Heart? Define What Matters Most To You

Get a bedrock of criteria for you to use as you move through this process. Once you begin generating opportunities for yourself, you’ll need to evaluate the offers against a criteria list that specifies the most important dimensions of your next phase. Do you want to make sure you’re there to tuck your kids in at night most evenings? Are you prioritizing tuition remission so that you can finally get that masters degree you’ve wanted for so long? Do you want a boss who champions (not undermines) you? Make a list of ten priorities and rank order them.

What Are Those Squawking French Hens Saying? Specify Your Deal Breakers

Do you know what happens when people get ready to leap into a new career? They gear up and invest time and money in the process, and then they freeze. Usually their fear says something along the lines of, “If I’m going to jump, it’s got to be to something perfect.” Suddenly, every little potential irritant becomes a deal breaker, and you’re killing the opportunities before you’ve even started exploratory conversations. If you create your list of what you don’t want at this early stage of the process, you’ll be able to reference it down the road when you’re ready to talk yourself out of everything. It’ll keep you in the game and ground you in clarity.

Another Name For Calling Birds: Money Gremlins

Many of us inadvertently self-sabotage around money, talking ourselves out of asking for a raise, backing down from negotiating the best salary, and then as we move to new positions, the benchmark of a current salary can create a real or perceived barrier to elevating ourselves both financially and status-wise. By addressing the undercurrents that may be fueling these patterns, you can position yourself for advancement and advocate for yourself in a salary negotiation.

What’s The Difference Between A Golden Ring And Cheap Vending Machine Imitation? Separate Your Skills From Your Strengths

There are many things you’re capable of doing, and by default and simple familiarity, that tends to be the go-to arena where you seek new jobs. But just because you CAN do something doesn’t mean you LIKE doing it. The essence of the strengths movement is that when you identify what fuels you and energizes plus where you excel, then you’re on fire, then you’re productive, then you’re contributing on a serious scale. That’s the spot to focus your job search.

What Are The Geese A-Laying? Identify Your Family Scripts

One of the questions that I ask my clients is, “What would horrify your parents or early caregivers if you pursued it as a career?” Often, we either rebel or conform to their expectations without realizing that we’re in reactionary mode. Whose life are you living anyway?

Listen To The Swans A-Swimming: Make Time For Both Action And Reflection

As you begin to generate conversations and reach out to people to make purposeful connections in your career exploration and job search, you’ll gather more data points for you to integrate into your decision-making. With a structure to shift through what you’re learning both about yourself and the market, you can make sure that you’re adapting and moving forward accordingly rather than rigidly sticking with a particular plan.

Are The Maids A-Milking Bringing Forth Your Resistance

I’m often struck by the vehemence with which some of my clients resist certain suggestions. Where there’s fire and energy like that, it’s worth exploring to see what’s causing the upset or outright rejection of ideas. Is it a lack of self-confidence? Is it a fear of retribution at work? Find out the source so that you know if you’re reacting to something that sabotages your progress or fuels it.

Take A Cue From The Ladies Dancing

Searching for a job while trying to hold down your full-time gig is draining. It’s depleting, and it can sap your energy quickly. Parse your time so that you’re in the long game. Mark time on your calendar to work on your career assessment and job search and take care that you don’t exceed it by too much. Enthusiasm is one thing, desperation another. Pace yourself.

Where Are The Lords A-Leaping? Factor In Your Environment

What does your ideal office look like? Are you wearing scrubs, steel-toed shoes, a lanyard with an ID badge? Do you drive to work? Walk? Bike? What time to you get there? Sometimes if you simply close your eyes and get a vivid picture of your future surroundings, you realize you know more about your dream job than you thought.

Pipers Piping Beckon You To Your Tribe

Consider three categories here: your boss, your colleagues, and your clients/customers. What are the qualities that you want in a supervisor? How will you know that the person hiring you has those qualities? How can you subtly probe in an interview for those desired attributes? Or, in a wild twist, perhaps you want to be your own boss. Either way, define this dimension. Think about whom you want alongside you in terms of colleagues/team members/referral partners. Whom do you want to have lunch with? Whom do you want to have your back? How do you decide whom to turn to in a crisis? Finally, where do you want to direct your energy? If your work benefited a specific group of people, who are they? What is the impact you want to have?

Drum Away Your Fears

Our work constitutes a hefty portion of our days. We spend significant time immersed in our jobs. When that anchor becomes uncertain, even if you’re heading for something that looks much more promising, it’s destabilizing, and fears inevitably appear. It’s a natural part of the process to back up a bit and consider whether you’re going down the right path, so recognize that most of us inevitably cycle into a questioning phase and pull back or have a crisis of confidence. These uncertainties can be useful pointers that warrant further attention, or they can be simple growing pains that deserve attention but not a place in the decision-making chair. Recognizing the difference is vital to this process.

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Maggie Graham | Coach

Career coach Maggie Graham hones in on the intersection of where your strengths meet rewarding, sustainable, and fulfilling work. If the question, “What are you passionate about?” makes you break out in hives, she can detect the signs that point you towards the work you’re meant to do (especially if you’re an introvert!).   Disclosure: This post is sponsored by a CAREEREALISM-approved expert. You can learn more about expert posts here. Photo Credit: Shutterstock

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