You get up, you get your coffee, and like clockwork, you walk a few steps to your home office to put out one workplace fire after another.
It feels like one of life’s big shampoo ads: Lather, rinse, and repeat.
Another thing that should be there for you. You know her. But when those thoughts pop up, it’s not clear where to begin, or how to begin to take action.
If this sounds familiar, you’re probably ready for a career transition.
I recently wrote an article with my predictions for the top five growing career areas for 2022… backed by research of course… but if you’re just starting out or changing careers, how do you know what to do first?
As the author of a career book, it is no secret that I believe that choosing your career path on purpose is critical to achieving it. A career path generally follows a linear sequence of jobs to reach your short- and long-term career goals. This path often also includes continuing or advanced education. While many companies offer a career path framework, there are definite advantages to being intentional about creating your own plan. You are the boss of your career.
Begin by making an honest assessment of your skills, values, and interests. Divide the paper in half and on one side, list all the skills, values, and interests that you have now, and on the other side, list those that you aspire to keep or maintain. During this process, consider the short term and the long term.
Depending on your skills and interests, search for jobs related to both. Then search for vacancies in those professions. One of the key career tips I write about a lot in my book TurnIt is more important to understand your core skill set than to know the industry you work in. I’m joking that while I love the fashion industry, I wouldn’t be a great designer. However, I can write articles and speak publicly (my greatest skill) about fashion all day long.
As part of your research, learn about the required skills, education requirements, and experience preferences for roles you may need. Determine the specific profession path. Knowing this will help you create career goals and determine your career path.
Don’t skimp on this step. We spend 90,000 hours at work throughout our lives, a third of our lives. Don’t let this step paralyze you. Remember that you can always change your mind. The skills and experience you gain will always benefit you along the way. The important thing is to get started.
To help you dive into building your career plan for 2022, consider these four types of career paths: knowledge-based, skill-based, entrepreneur-based, and freelance. Within each of these, I’ll show you how to create your career path.
1. Knowledge-based career paths.
Knowledge-based career paths build on knowledge gained through experience. Some of the areas that follow a knowledge path include human resources, marketing, accounting, information technology, and engineers. Creating a career path based on this type will depend heavily on moving up the company ladder, using each position as a stepping stone to the next.
For example, a career path in health care might look like this: home health assistant to nursing assistant to registered nurse. This career path includes leading positions as well as advanced education.
Developing a knowledge-based career path always requires education or upskilling. Upskilling is strategic learning to fill in gaps in the industry. When you are a candidate with specialized education or experience in a niche industry, you will stand out among any competition.
Start a career path based on the knowledge of a job before first diving into school years and business expenses. Use this function to test the waters of your choice in your career. Not only will you gain experience, but you will also learn whether you want to continue the course or deviate in one direction or another.
Don’t forget, if you love the industry, that doesn’t necessarily mean you’re stuck with one business option. For example, a career in health care does not always mean caring for patients. If you highly value working in healthcare but don’t want to be in the surgery room, explore the knowledge-based roles that work behind the scenes. Roles such as hospital administrators are expected to see 17% growth in employment through 2024 according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS). Not only that, careers in healthcare are excellent for midlife career transitions.
2. Skills-based career paths.
Skills-based career paths are often physical, practical, or service-oriented. Jobs that fall into this type require a thorough understanding of how a particular job works. Skills-based occupations include construction, performance, visual arts, and chef.
The construction industry is experiencing tremendous growth. However, the BLS reports that the industry has fallen by 115,000 jobs. Given this, the construction profession will be safe for quite some time. A skills-based career path in construction may begin as a carpenter, followed by a supervisor, project manager, and culminate as a general contractor. One skill has the ability to pile into another and enter into a successful career with many opportunities.
When creating a skills-based career path, spend some time researching the experience required for the job you want to help you determine the roles you’ll need to get into. Within each of these roles, identify the skills needed and make a plan for acquiring those skills either through experience or continuing education. In skill-based professions, experience is your best friend.
3. Career paths based on entrepreneurs.
Entrepreneur-based career paths focus on solving a problem or fulfilling a need with a self-created product or service. Entrepreneurs work independently or start a company and hire employees. The premise behind entrepreneur-based professions is that they solve a problem for consumers. Examples include everything from inventing a product to sell to providing writing services to niche industries.
Just as there are endless opportunities for entrepreneurship, so there are career paths to access them. While some entrepreneurs are born this way, many take a winding path that involves working in the corporate world, as I have. What I tell my career coaching clients is to focus on their skills and values. Your skills will help you determine what you can do, and your values will help determine how you will use your skills. If you find that you always solve a problem or enjoy solving problems in your job, an entrepreneurial path may be right for you.
My career path involved working at the Pentagon before I realized my importance as a career coach. It was the skills I gained trying to find a job in national security that provided me with what I need to succeed today. Be open and pay attention to your gut to discover if this path is right for you.
4. Freelancers or independent contractors follow a diversified career path.
Self-employed workers are hired by individuals or companies to perform a specific job or project. Many freelancers offer services such as graphic design, writing, consulting, home repair, and photography. In the wake of the pandemic, independent work has grown in large part due to the choice of work-life balance over company perks. The largest number of self-employed people is among Gen Zers, at 53% while Millennials make up 40%.
Most freelancers start working for a company. In fact, their first customer is often their last employer. The best freelance jobs include copywriting, software development, digital marketing consulting, SEO consulting, advertising management, sales and lead generation. Freelance work in these areas can bring in annual salaries of $200,000 for experts.
If you are interested in a freelance job, go for it. Many freelance or contract jobs require someone with agency experience. For example, if you want to be a digital marketing consultant, you will need agency experience in a marketing company. Your career path will also likely include improving skills to fill specialized roles within the company on a project basis. Freelancers need to stay one step ahead in their industries. So, keeping up with industry trends is crucial.
Designing your career path around jobs that are expected to remain in demand in the future will provide a level of job security. While most career paths take a relatively linear path, this is not always the case. A sideways or even downward movement along the way can still lead to an overall successful career. Having career goals will allow you to evaluate each opportunity to see if it makes sense for you in the long run.
Now is one of the most appropriate times to explore your options in new career areas. You have this.