Unsure of Your Next Career Move? Stop Talking About “Work”.

A few weeks ago, I had one of the most fun and interesting resume writing projects I’ve had in a while. My client, we’ll call her Alice, had retired from a career spanning 3 decades (if I sound vague, it’s because I need to be very mindful of client privacy on the internet, so certain details, like what industry she was in, will be left out. I know, I sound paranoid, but better safe than sorry). She found herself feeling listless and without a sense of purpose. She knew she wanted to get out and do something, but she wasn’t sure what. She had been in the same line of work for so long it was hard to think of a new direction.

We talked at length on the phone, and she told me what she loved about her previous career and what she hoped to get out of her next chapter – but what that chapter would be was still unclear for her.

That is, until we stopped talking about “work.”

We put everything into categories: a mind-numbing 9-5 job is “work”; a Saturday yoga class is “fun”. What we often forget is that each category isn’t a given, it is a choice.

The first step if you feel stuck in your career is to play with your categories. Do you love yoga? Instead of just putting it in the “fun” category, away from “work”, think of it as something you could possibly get paid to do. Maybe you can be a yoga instructor, or if you’re a marketing professional, you could help a local yoga studio by developing their  promotional materials. It is possible to spend your time doing what you love – while getting paid for it. For instance, I love writing. One day it occurred to me that, since I enjoy writing and I’m good at it, others might be willing to pay me to write.

And, let’s face it: If you enjoy something and it means something to you, you’ll be better at it.

Alice and I stopped talking about her resume and about her career, and started talking about what we do outside of work. After we talked about these things for a while, she said “I love shopping, and helping friends find the perfect outfit.” At that moment, it occurred to her that she could combine her sales experience with her love of fashion, and work in the fashion industry.

With this new goal in mind, I went to work on her resume and she got an interview at a major fashion outlet the very next week. And guess what? Alice got the job!

So how did Alice nail her very first interview in this new field, especially we’ve all heard how hard it is to find a job in the current market? It’s simple: she was excited, determined, and full of enthusiasm, and hiring managers can see that. She stepped outside of her “work” box and thought about what she enjoys doing.

So what do you love to do?

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