Float­ing around in a ca­reer that doesn’t make your heart sing? Here’s how to get a job you love

Marie Claire (South Africa) - - @ WORK -

It’s a ques­tion most of us are asked as soon as we rst put on a school uni­form. ‘So, what do you want to be when you grow up ’ Although your ve-year-old self might have been con­vinced you were go­ing to be a doc­tor artist choco­late taster, it’s highly likely that by the time you were ready to join the work­ing world, your ideas had changed.

While some peo­ple re­main un­wa­ver­ing about their ca­reer goals (if you still want to be a choco­late taster, who could blame you ), for many, the dream jobs they imag­ined as chil­dren have evap­o­rated into con­fu­sion and un­cer­tainty. But not hav­ing your dream job shouldn’t be a source of stress.

ncer­tainty can lead to pos­i­tive ex­pe­ri­ences and ac­tu­ally make your ca­reer path more in­ter­est­ing, says psy­chol­o­gist Ali­son Hill.

‘Feel­ing stuck or un­cer­tain about what’s next is hard,’ she says. ‘But it also al­lows you the op­por­tu­nity to ex­plore pos­si­bil­i­ties you may not have pre­vi­ously con­sid­ered. Whether it’s mak­ing the shi from study­ing to a work en­vi­ron­ment, or nd­ing a job that’s a bet­ter t for you, be­ing un­sure of what you want to do ca­reer-wise means it’s time to dial up your cu­rios­ity – not only about what roles might be avail­able, but about what you’re look­ing for in a work­place cul­ture and en­vi­ron­ment.

‘ obs are more than just the tasks that you do; iden­ti­fy­ing the en­vi­ron­ment you thrive in is just as im­por­tant.’

Amy James, a nurse, saw how spend­ing time in ca­reer limbo could ac­tu­ally bring long-term bene ts.

‘A er school I started a Bach­e­lor of Ed­u­ca­tion at univer­sity,’ she says. ‘But I didn’t en­joy it at all. I strug­gled through a year, nish­ing in the mid­dle to bot­tom of all my classes, and be­came so dis­heart­ened I just stopped go­ing. I was a bit awk­ward when peo­ple asked why I’d dropped out; I told them I’d put it on hold but in re­al­ity I’d just given up. To earn some money I started work­ing for a le­gal rm, ling court doc­u­ments and serv­ing le­gal no­tices,’ she says. ‘Then I worked for my dad’s busi­ness, which was re­ally get­ting paid to do not much at all. I was head­ing to­wards 3 with­out any quali ca­tions. So I de­cided to do some­thing to­tally di er­ent, and chose to study nurs­ing. I loved it. I’m so glad I didn’t do it straight out of school – if I had, I guar­an­tee I wouldn’t be in nurs­ing now. It’s too con­fronting for a rst job. ou need some com­mon sense. Nurs­ing is about peo­ple rst and med­i­cal knowl­edge sec­ond. Be­cause I had some life and work ex­pe­ri­ence, I was suc­cess­ful in ap­ply­ing for my stu­dent place­ments and my rst nurs­ing job. I’m so happy now. I love my job, my pa­tients and I have job sat­is­fac­tion.’

Amy is proof that ini­tially strug­gling to nd your dream job can help you learn more about your­self while you’re search­ing. Through her ex­pe­ri­ences she learnt that work­ing with peo­ple, be­ing sur­rounded by a good team and feel­ing like she’s mak­ing a di er­ence to peo­ple’s lives is what drives her. A er dis­cov­er­ing this, she was able to choose a job that matched these traits.

‘Ev­ery ex­pe­ri­ence con­trib­utes to our ca­reer, even if these ex­pe­ri­ences pri­mar­ily help you get clar­ity on what you re­ally don’t like do­ing,’ says Ali­son. ‘Tak­ing a wind­ing path to ul­ti­mately nd your dream job can be a smart move, not only be­cause of what you learn from the jobs them­selves, but also be­cause of the peo­ple you meet and con­nect with along the way. Be­ing open, hav­ing a cu­ri­ous mind, say­ing “yes” to op­por­tu­ni­ties and back­ing your­self with new projects can all help you nd the path that’s right for you.’

But the dis­cov­ery of your dream role prob­a­bly won’t hap­pen overnight.

Michelle Gib­bings, a ca­reer ex­pert, sug­gests putting pen to pa­per to gure out what re­ally mat­ters to you. ‘Ask your­self what your ideal role might com­prise of,’ she says. ‘Things to con­sider: Where will I be based Will it be full- or part-time What would I like to get paid Do I need to work ex­i­bly Do I want to travel with my work Would this role add to my CV ut your an­swers in or­der of pri­or­ity. Re­mem­ber there’s o en a trade-o in­volved. Would you rather work part-time so you have ex­i­bil­ity Some­times you might be will­ing to ac­cept less pay in the short-term be­cause you know the role will look good on your CV, and ac­cel­er­ate your ca­reer in the long-term. Think about the skills you have and how you can put them to use.’ Chances are you’re way more skilled than you re­alise.

‘Give your­self some credit,’ says Ja­nine Garner, CEO of a net­work­ing group. ‘ ou prob­a­bly have lots of trans­fer­able skills from part­time jobs, vol­un­tary work or your aca­demic achieve­ments that you can use to your ad­van­tage when ap­ply­ing to di er­ent jobs. Think about your in­ter­per­sonal skills – do you re­late well to oth­ers Are you good at as­sist­ing oth­ers Do you meet all dead­lines Are you good at plan­ning projects, and man­ag­ing time e ciently Have you ever man­aged and su­per­vised oth­ers or del­e­gated tasks If yes, then you have lead­er­ship skills.’

Once you’ve listed your skills and what’s im­por­tant for you, hone in on cer­tain roles.

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