A life changing episode - how I discovered my career direction

Firstly, welcome to my blog and, indeed, to my new company. By way of an introduction I thought I’d divulge some little-known information about exactly how I ended up where I am now - as a careers adviser.

Back in 2001, I was made redundant from my role as an in-house recruiter, due to a downturn in the market. It was a job I had done for the previous 4 years and the timing was right for me to move on and find a new career. One morning I diligently sat down and wrote a list of essential career criteria - what skills I wanted to use, the values I needed to apply, and the conditions that the job had to fulfil. And then, like all busy job-seekers, I sat down to watch an episode of Home and Away.

It just so happened that the episode in question featured a dialogue between a father and son about “Careers Day; at school. And so my light bulb moment occurred. I looked at my list and proceeded to tick all the boxes. That afternoon I started researching how to become a careers adviser and within a few months I had enrolled on my postgraduate training course. 10 years later and I am still doing a job that I love.

When we train to become careers advisers we spend a lot of time studying the various theories on why people may end up in particular occupations - everything from the analysis of skills and interests, to the impact of our environment, our upbringing, and our role models. And as I found out myself, our influences and ideas can come for the strangest of places (even Summer Bay). Yet, my work experiences tell me that career choice is still something that many people apply little proactive thought to. So often, things occur passively. We fall into jobs. We get talking to someone in the pub who happens to know of an opportunity. We follow the career path dictated by our families. And sometimes this works out just fine, particularly in the short term. But surely our chances of entering a career that really fulfils and motivates us for the duration will be much higher if we do our homework beforehand?

I often wonder, what would have happened if that particular episode of Home and Away had not coincided so fortunately with the writing of my career wish list. I suspect the significance of the episode would have passed me by unnoticed. This makes me wonder just how many people are missing their own light bulb moments every day because they are not aware of the criteria for their own career fulfilment. If I’&rsquo’;m going to be honest, I had spent many years in the job market - happy but not truly content - before I invested any significant thinking time into what I really wanted from a career for the longer term.

So, go on: I estimate it will take about 10-20 minutes out of your time. Grab a pen and a bit of paper and start your own career wish list. Think not only about the skills you can offer but also about the skills you need to be using in order to remain happy at work. Identify your career values - what really motivates and drives you? What do you need an employer to offer you (apart from just money)? Draw from your previous employment experiences - what worked for you before and what didn’t? And can you pinpoint why this was? If your list is expansive, what areas are you willing to compromise on first?

Career planning is a journey. Rarely do the answers come together all at once, and it may be that a little trial and error is needed first. But being that little bit more prepared may help ensure that your own light bulb moment does not get missed.