Thursday, February 12, 2015

Use Your Gifts in the Right Career

Don’t end up in a career where you don’t want to be……

Do you remember when you were in your early teens and an adult asked you what you wanted to be when you grow up? What was your answer? Did your parents have an idea of what they wanted you to be? Or did you grow up and learn you had to figure this out on your own?

Question: Are you where you thought you would be?
Question: Are you where you hoped you would be?
Have you interned, volunteered, or sat on the board of your dream company? Did you just get hired to work for a leader you admire? Have you wanted to start your own business, but not sure how to make it happen? Or do you find yourself wondering is there more?
Stop for a moment and think back to last month. Like most people in the beginning of the year they start off with resolutions to get focused by setting goals. Now that 2015 is in full swing, pause for a moment from this screen and ask yourself, where do you stand?

"You’ll never leave where you are until you decide where you’d rather be."

"So where would you rather be?"

If you are not working at your dream job or its affiliate, being mentored by someone that has your dream job, connected to industry leaders in your field, being contacted at least once a week with someone that has heard about you and wants to meet you, or getting job offers at least once a quarter then it’s time for you to make some moves so that everybody knows your name because "you know how gifted you are".

5 Action Steps to ensure you use your gifts in the right career:

#1: Research! Read books and biographies of dynamic leaders. Use LinkedIn, Simply Hired, InsideJobs, even Craigslist wisely, and talk to Human Resource Managers, Alumni Offices, Recruiters, and Career Coaches to get the research done. Knowing where you are going has to do with you knowing what is out there.

#2: Create a list of 10 jobs titles (even if you create your own), and companies or business ideas of which you have a strong interest. After you’ve done the research set out with this list in mind, to contact people in your network that know you personally by phone, email and in person. Ask if they know someone in that career, that company, its affiliate, or someone that has a similar business.
Remember this step is NOT just if you are looking for a job, this is so you can stay on top of your A-Game at ALL-times.
It’s very important for you to note whoever you contact DOES NOT need to be in your field of interest. I put 'does not' in all caps, because the idea that you need to miraculously know someone in your field of interest is one of the biggest misconceptions out there. Think of your own immediate family and friends and how many different professions exist in your own circle.

Note: I once had a client who swore she knew no one. I tasked her with making dream list and taking it to her father who was a mechanic. Surprise to her, but not to me, her dad maintains the car of a CPA at one of the Big Four Accounting Firms, boom, meeting was set up!

As long as you have a personal relationship with the person you are asking for help they will go out their way for you by making a referral to let’s say a cousin who lives in another state that does what you are interested in doing, or is dating someone that is in that field.

#3: Set up informational interviews with each person and attend any industry events you’ve identified through your research, for example using meetup.com or eventbrite.com. An informational interview is an opportunity for you to ask them about their careers, what they do, what their qualifications are, what advice would they give you if you wanted to pursue that career and where you should start.

Here are 200 sample questions: http://www.quintcareers.com/informational_interview_questions.html

DO NOT forget to send them a personalized thank you note and in some cases a very small gift and keep them posted on your journey. I’ve been known as the $5 Dunkin Donuts Gift Card girl.









#4: Repeat! Conduct an informational interview, coffee, skype, or attend an event at least once or twice a month with someone new, and every 6 - 12 months with those you've previously met. Keep them going, always send thank you notes with something awesome, like an article, coupon, referral, etc.) and keep all of your past interviews aware of new developments in your journey every six - nine months. (I make notes on my spreadsheets of the last conversations, and make file folders in my emails, by mentor. I also ensure my follow-up contact with them is very short.)

#5. Now that your community is growing you need to find at least three people in your desired industry to mentor you that perhaps have some of the same gifts you have, want to have, or are shy about using!
Don’t be in such a rush to obtain a mentor, just know that should be one of your goals. Research, talk, and give first; then ask. Mentors are essential to your growth and your personal brand!
LAST THOUGHT, if you are already in your field, or consider yourself a c-suite executive this all still applies to you. The moment you stop building new industry relationships in and outside your areas of interests and your gifts, is the moment you stop learning, you stop growing and you limit your own opportunities. I mean think it over, your position at your current company may be great, but you as well as I know nothing is ever permanent.
When you build your network and are of service to others, doors will open for you and people will begin to know your name and you will find yourself working in a place where you want to be, using the gifts you desire to share.
#Blog written by:
Natascha F. Saunders, CEO, The Youth Career Coach Inc., Doctoral Candidate, Faculty, Writer, Speaker | Press: Scholastic, InsideJobs, METRO, ABC, COX