Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Career Compass!

Every time I come across the word “Compass”, the character of Captain Jack Sparrow comes to mind! The image of his mystical compass guiding him to what his heart most desires! Every time he is in a dilemma he only has to look at the compass! How about that? Wouldn’t we all love to have one for ourselves to show us the direction towards our career destinations! A CAREER-COMPASS!

Quite often we all tend to ask a question “Is my current career path the best for me?” We get into career roles that might have seemed the best option at that point in time. However, a few years later our thoughts swirl towards sending the “best option” spiraling towards oblivion. What happened in the years that passed by? Maybe the career choice we all made got redundant, your colleagues/peers moved to better roles (only according to you!), you don’t remember the last time you got a pay-hike, your manager is not the most supportive, customers aren’t seeing the “WOW” factor in your service…and a thousand more reasons for thinking of changing career lanes!

Believe it, there’s no such thing as getting ‘expert’ advice to make a career choice. Experts really tend to make people only realize their personality traits, strengths, behavioral patterns and other such qualities. They then map these qualities to jobs that best suit the perceived traits. Really, it’s good but then if we do have multiple traits that suit multiple jobs, it’s just a matter of time before we are back to start-point all over again! Creating your own career-compass gives you an opportunity to understand what you truly desire. Once you get this right (might take a few years doing this ‘trial and error’ process), I’m quite sure your confidence will be at an all time high and you’ll approach the role with loads of determination.

I’ve known real-life incidents where doctors, engineers, top tier B-school grads give up their high-paying jobs to become environmentalists, trekking-guides, even fashion designers! So a few things that might help determine the career of your choice would be:

- To take up internship with a company that deals with the role that you have in mind. Working in your ‘Dream Job’ role will take away your assumptions which you had in mind before starting! Things don’t always appear to be in an Ideal State. This process will help you take a realistic approach to your decision.

- Try and talk to people already in the role you have in mind. Request them to give you their point of view about both sides (positive and negative) of the role/job. Prepare a set of questions that will help clear your doubts.

- List Pros & Cons of the role based on your internship or interviewing people in that role. Is there enough scalability in the role? Both in terms on both short-term and long-term career opportunities.

- Don’t not let current market conditions control your thoughts – really, financial sector, investment banking was the flavor about a couple of years back. What happened then?

Career choices are best done keeping in mind your FUNDAMENTAL SKILL-SET which will keep you in good stead, should you find the need to change jobs in future! Like having good writing skills might help get you into various roles such as a technical writer, content writer, editor for a magazine, even as a blogger who gets paid!

Most importantly, try and reduce the use of the compass as much as possible! Honestly, your friends/colleagues/peers/siblings have their own set of career-compass. Focus on the direction you have chosen!

“Now, bring me that horizon” – Capt. Jack Sparrow

- The HR Store