WEEK 2: COMING UP WITH NEW IDEAS
I’ve often found that a major obstacle when it comes to finding fulfilling work, or making career changes, can be the mere fact of figuring out what your available options are. It’s something that’s been an obstacle for me in the past (most notably, straight after I graduated from uni), and whilst mentoring some young creatives trying to find their feet in the creative industries a few nights ago, I spoke to a lot of people who demonstrated that not a lot’s changed since I first entered the world of work some years ago.
Many of them had an idea of the sorts of things they enjoyed doing within a professional context, but weren’t really sure of which jobs or industries really lined up with their interests. Sound familiar?
In an ideal world there’d be a giant database of every single possible job in existence, categorised by the required skills and interests they align with – and all you’d have to do is enter in your personal proclivities and you’d be presented with a list of potential career options… but until someone invents such a thing, here’s a three practical things you can do to generate new ideas for your career options in the meantime.
Set up an informational coffee with someone whose career you admire or want to emulate. They don’t need to be the CEO of a FTSE 100 company either –
embrace the power of peer-to-peer networking by reaching out to someone on the same level as you career-wise, or perhaps a few years ahead. You’ll probably find that your peers can be as helpful (if not more so) than people who are at the very top of their industries, as they’re navigating the same landscape and dilemmas as you – plus they’re likely in a position to be a bit more generous with their time.
So – that person who you’re always saying “we should do coffee sometime!” to? Reach out today and get a firm date in the diary. I cover how to get the most out of coffee meetings in detail in Little Black Book (hint hint…) but top tips? If you’ve suggested the meeting, make sure you meet them somewhere convenient for them, be on time, and don’t forget to send a thankyou note the day after.
FOCUS ON YOUR INTERESTS
Fill in the worksheet on the right (click here to download it as a printable hi-res PDF) to get the ideas flowing.
Why not use the resulting answers as the initial stimulus to structure your ideas party (more on that below) around?
THROW AN IDEAS PARTY
“What the hell is that?” I hear you cry! Simple: invite a few of your closest friends over for drinks or dinner chez toi, with the express goal of brainstorming around a particular problem of yours – in this case, your potential career options.
The beauty of this idea is you can really take advantage of the fact that these are people that know you really well, and so will probably be in a good position to hone in on any skills or natural strengths you might be overlooking, as well as mirror back to you how you’ve dealt with various workplace situations in the past. In many ways your friends can be a more objective record of your career history than you yourself. Plus they’ll be able to come up with ideas you wouldn’t otherwise have thought of, and hopefully make valuable introductions to help you act on them.
When planning your party, aim for a mix of friends, both in terms of occupation and attitude. It’s smart to have a majority of the people in attendance working in (or at least familiar with) your industry as they’ll have a better understanding of your career options, but be sure to include one or two ‘wildcard’ options as well – someone who does something totally different to your field of interest, and who might be able to contribute a few fresh ideas to the mix.
Don’t forget to write down all the ideas that come up over the course of the evening, for you to mull over at a later point.
See you next week.
If you found this article useful, there’s plenty more where that came from in The Dream CV Planner, a resource I’ve developed to help you identify what a successful and fulfilling career looks like for you.