Just like we can’t predict what happens in life, it is hard to tell, beforehand, what will happen in your career over the course of a lifetime. But this doesn’t mean that you can’t plan which direction your career should go – or make a bold career change.
There is no such thing as the perfect career, and no universal checklist to when you have made the perfect career. It is a highly individual thing. However, many would say that ‘passion’ is essential. This is often what will keep us going, even when times are tough. Some might also add ‘skills’ and ‘your values’ as good objectives to define the perfect career – for you.
Read as well: How to make a bulletproof career plan - and stick to it!
Understanding the market
First step, when identifying your career path, is to define the market space, according to Agata Mathiasen, leadership and career coach at IME Singapore.
You can do that in different ways, but doing your groundwork in this phase, will give you a clearer picture of what your desired career path is and where you fit into the market. Here is how you can get started:
- Become familiar with the companies - Map the companies that you want to work with – and make sure to get to know them. Research their values, work culture and general work life in these companies. Maybe some people in that line of work would let you shadow them a few days to see what it is really like in the company. Often, we get surprised when we look deeper into a company, because we underestimate the culture and how we fit in.
- Build relationships - Another really good way to get a look into these companies is to talk to the people there – both former employees and current ones. When you do networking like this, you don’t need to know people beforehand. Most people wouldn’t mind sharing some insights with you if you tell them the background for your questions. This particular approach will get you a lot of answers that you can’t find elsewhere. Maybe you can even get a mentor – this will not only give you insider knowledge, but could also take your career to the next level.
- Show yourself and your skills - A good way to show the world what you have to offer, and test your skills, is to intern, start projects and gain experience that will cast light over what it is like to work in such companies.
This might sound like hard work – and it is! There is no easy way to do this. But rest assured that the more work you put into this part, the clearer your career path becomes. Especially the people you meet on your journey can inspire you or maybe even show you a new direction.
An application rarely gets you the job!
"The most important thing when you start this journey of mapping out the market and finding your place is to remember the power of building relationships. We often underestimate this part. At least 60 percent of all jobs aren’t available on the open job market. Most jobs are found through networking rather than traditional job searching. So that is what you should do – network!"
- says Agata Mathiasen, leadership and career coach at IME Singapore.
During her years of teaching and being a career coach, Agata has seen how the majority of the students don’t like networking. It makes them uncomfortable and they don’t know what to talk about. But if you get over this, you improve your changes for conquering the career space that you want. And it’s a lot more efficient than sending out applications, according to Agata:
“It’s a mistake to send applications left and the right, because most likely you won’t get the job. Your chances of nailing the job is very low, because you are competing with a lot of people.”
Agata Mathiasen points this out as one of the most common mistakes, people make in their attempt to build a career: Applying for jobs in all directions. Instead you should improve your chances by building professional relationships.
Don’t know what to talk about? Well, companies, careers and the market are good places to start. And make sure to tell your story as well. This is a good way for the market to get to know you as a brand.
SEVEN EASY STEPS TO FIND YOUR CAREER PATH
- Cultivate a growth mindset - enjoy the journey you are on. You are in the process of learning and growing.
- Define your values - look at your personal and professional skill set. What will you bring to the market?
- Clarify you visions - where do you want to be in the future?
- Identify the gap - between your vision and where you are right now.
- Look for alignment in the market - how can you close this gap or even create a market yourself.
- Create a career pilot - do internships, projects or talk to people who have the job you want. So you can experience it in action. An experiment or pilot project can transform into job opportunities.
- Transform this into a job opportunity - If you like the career pilot project – go for it!
BIO - AGATA MATHIASEN
Coach, Intercultural Facilitator, Leadership & Organizational Development Consultant, Psychologist, IME Expert in Design Your Career
Agata works primarily as coach, intercultural facilitator and trainer and has more than 15 years of professional experience within HR and Learning & Development in a global setting. Currently, she heads her own consultancy working as a career coach at INSEAD and an executive coach in leadership transitions. As facilitator, she provides intercultural training and addresses clients’ business needs associated with working globally. She also delivers tailored development solutions for individuals, teams and organizations centered around topics such as leadership, organizational and commercial effectiveness and competence development in order to ensure optimal organizational performance to accomplish corporate strategic goals in multicultural settings. Agata holds a Master’s degree in Psychology, with focus on business psychology as well as life span development psychology. She is a certified Management Trainer and Coach.