Most of us have experienced foggy moments in our careers. How do I know if that job is what I seek? What kind of opportunities should I be looking for? And what are the questions I should be asking myself to gain clarity about my career? Career questions are essentially questions about yourself, your future, your own life. And as such they are (most of the times) difficult ones to answer.
In our career development activities at Dual we see how first-time job seekers and junior professionals alike often seem a bit lost when it comes to career planning. The good news is that you can (re-)gain your focus with just a few of the right questions. For that reason, we have created the Career Pin Model (see image below).
The model consists of 3 main components or areas for you to question: #1 the pin representing yourself, #2 your network and #3 your opportunity map. Let us start with yourself, the red pin in the model. In your core, you carry a set of values, attitudes and drivers with you. Together with your visions they form your self-concept. How well do you know them? Are they supportive to each other or do they maybe contain some contradictive aspects? How important are certain values, attitudes and drivers in relation to each other? And how would you like to see them develop as part of yourself, your identity? We firmly believe that a meaningful career starts in your self-concept, your very core. Your self-concept is important to define and prioritize your own personal goals, long-term and short-term. Your experiences and acquired skills also influence your goals. If you want to become a marketing executive in tourism and you start with a degree in general management, you will find many ways that may lead to your long-term goal. One thing is almost certain, it will have to be a step-by-step approach. You should consider your possibilities based on your current standpoint and your current assets. Sometimes it is necessary to take a little detour or trade in one advantage for another (e.g. income vs. personal development). Weighing such trade-offs against each other is difficult, but developing good understanding of your own position will help you make such decisions and gain motivation out of them. In our model, the awareness about your goals, experiences and skills forms a middle layer within the pin. The outer layer of the pin is what others can see. It is your self-presentation that should be in line with the two inner layers. This is what creates authenticity. A high degree of self-awareness will let you sharpen your profile towards your environment: your personal brand.
Let us look at the remaining two components in our career pin model: your network and your opportunities. Your opportunities are defined by many different factors. In many ways defining the limitations is a matter of the radius you allow yourself. Do you want to stay in your home town, would you be willing to move to a different city, region or even country for the right job? Are you limited to one specific industry, small businesses or large corporations? Drawing your own opportunity map will again help you become more aware of your options and limitations. The deeper you zoom into specific jobs and fields, the better you will find out what employers in that area seek. The third and last element in our model is the network. Ideally, your network works as a door opener for you to reach your opportunities. For that, imagine your network as a layer on top of your opportunity map. If you know where you want to go (yep, I am talking about your pin) and if you know where your network lies in relation to potential opportunities you can become active and contact your ties. It will also be very helpful to see into what direction you could actively enlarge your network. This is where your personal brand comes in again.
In short, this is our Career Pin Model: a model that may help you find a structured approach to ask the right questions about yourself, your opportunities and your network. In combination, it helps you sharpen your career perspectives. Well, we are aware that a short article like this one could not possibly answer every single aspect of this model but maybe one or the other aspect caught your interest and we would be grateful to learn about your thoughts. Thanks for sharing your comments, opinions or questions.