A search for meaning, yearning for freedom, feelings of stagnation and of not being valued, reevaluating priorities, lack of motivation, craving for new challenges, a dream to chase, mismatched values, feeling useless, lack of interest… it is likely that some of these elements will resonate with your clients. Or perhaps they have other reasons for wanting to make a change in their careers. Though the reasons can vary, a rethink in career often stems from a discrepancy between people’s needs and their current reality. The greater this gap, the greater the feelings of dissatisfaction and frustration, and greater the need to change course to get back onto a path that makes sense for them.
What’s the best way to approach a career change?
This can happen in two stages: a ‘before’ and an ‘after’. The ‘before’ is to let the clients take stock of the skills they have gained, their achievements, as well as the aspects they are satisfied with and dissatisfied with. This stage is essential for allowing clients to make sense of their career journey and to join the dots to find the common thread of their past experiences. This will boost your clients’ self-confidence, as well as allow them to link their past experiences to the present and thereby enable a clearer vision of the future.
In the word ‘rethink’ we can find the prefix ‘re-’, implying that things have already been ‘thought out’. In other words, an initial pathway has already been carved out and a body of knowledge has been accumulated. When rethinking our careers, it is therefore not a case of starting from scratch, but of drawing upon what we have learnt along the way to help continue moving forward. Whether the desire for change is a minor or a major one, these skills are a part of who we are, they are an invaluable asset, and should be viewed as such.
Stage 1: Finding meaning
The aim of this first stage is for your clients to gain a fresh outlook on their careers by looking over the previous roles they have exercised. It is an opportunity for them to identify all the skills they have acquired, appreciate them and reflect on their transferability.
Different methods such as a narrative approach, self-evaluation forms or targeted exercises can help you take stock of your clients’ career history. Aptitude and personality tests are increasingly gaining ground within companies, and are immensely valuable when it comes to identifying skills and having engaging discussions with clients. The 360 Feedback tool, prized for the powerful insights it offers individuals, also identifies the skills that clients can aim to develop in the future.
During this first stage, it is also crucial that individuals understand why this need for change has arisen, and why now. Tools assessing the root causes of tension and discontent, as well as the clients’ needs and motivations, will trigger further reflection and help you to pinpoint exactly what they need.
Stage 2: looking to the future
The second stage allows you to roll out a career change plan. It is essential to understand what your clients want, and how far they have reached in their reflections. While the elements from the previous stage would provide much food for thought, the use of interest questionnaires will offer even more insights. Above all, these tools will identify the types of tasks, activities and sectors in which your clients will most likely thrive in, as well as the materials that they feel most comfortable working with. We could also mention various other key factors which will help your clients forge ahead with their projects. For example, their preferred learning style can enable continued motivation and performance if further training is needed; the type of environment they would like to operate in, the values guiding their choices, or the company culture that fits them best . Needless to say, all of this information must be considered in conjunction with the viability of your clients’ projects.
Though career changes should be tackled using this two-fold approach, the two stages are closely linked, since the valuable insights into their past experiences and current assets will allow your clients to build a better future, one that’s a reflection of who they really are.
For coaches, it is the role of a guide that they will take on when working alongside their clients, helping to foster positive reflections on the substance of the issues at stake. Coaches will also need to be an expert of the procedure and personalise the style of their approach, backed up by insights from relevant and impactful tools, to ensure that the clients successfully kick-start their new careers.