I’ve had several conversations with people recently about the career choices we make throughout our lives. While some of us actively choose a course of study because it ties in to getting our ‘ideal job’, most of us have no idea what our ideal job is, or how to find it. So, generally university is the ‘logical’ next step post high school, and study ‘choices’ are made for a vast range of reasons such as: it sounds interesting, my friends are doing it, my parents did it, I should study that… Many graduates then end up in jobs that are again, the ‘logical’ next step – but they are not making a conscious choice to work in an area that they see as interesting or a good fit with who they are and what they want to do. So, how would graduates even know how to go about finding a job that is a good ‘fit’ with who they are?
This ties in with my previous blog about the new career – people now need to be proactive about their careers, and actively manage their career paths, as organisations are much less able and willing to do this for them. But when, where and how is this supposed to happen? With a series of ‘logical next step’ choices being made, first at the end of high school (often even earlier than this) then at the end of university, and then throughout our careers as we shift from one job to another, one department to another, or even just by who we choose to network with – how do people take the step towards proactive career management that helps them to achieve a career that is a good fit for them?
One can certainly argue that there is not one ‘right’ career for any individual – but there are certainly careers that are a better fit for someone’s personality, values and motivation. With the number of excellent motivation, career development and engagement tools out there, it seems crazy that these aren’t used more often at an earlier stage in peoples’ lives to help people narrow down their career choices to a career that will at least provide them with some satisfaction and happiness. But how would this happen? Does there need to be more guidance in schools? Or universities? Or does it come down to individuals needing to network and conduct information gathering themselves? If so, shouldn’t networking and pro-activeness be at least actively encouraged by educational institutions? Or do we, the practitioners with an understanding of the tools that people can use to direct their career paths, have a responsibility to inform others about the options that are out there for them?