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How to Explore Your Career Options and Present Your Best Self for a Career Pivot

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Nov 16, 2022

How to Explore Your Career Options and Present Your Best Self for a Career Pivot

Dave Fano

Expand your ideas of possibilities for careers by bringing together your skills, interests, values, and vision to explore career options.

In this class, we're going to talk about how to explore your career options by bringing your skills, interests, values, and vision together.

What we're going to cover first is Teal’s approach to thinking about career exploration. Then we will break it down using the following agenda:

Approach

In this section, we're gonna talk about our approach to a career shift and how to explore your options.

It starts with our process and how we think about career exploration. First is your style and values. Then your skills and interests, and then you can start to explore those career options. Where do you fit? Understanding organizations, understanding functions, where could you go within a company? What works for you? Then analyzing those options and building a plan for your job search. 

We are going to cover analyzing your career options here.

Having too many career choices can start to block you and prevent you from making that next step. There are so many things a person can do and that you can do that might start to become overwhelming on which path to take. It also feels like a very heavy decision. It feels like a one way door. You make it and you can't go back, which is also not true. 

Here's our decision making framework.

Think about all the possibilities, think about all the things that excite you and interest you. Then you want to analyze it and narrow it down, go to that convergent thinking, start to focus it, bucket it down, and then go test it. Whether that be through informational interviews or something a little bigger, like taking that job, go out and apply for interviews, see how it goes.

If that goes well, then embark on the job search. If it doesn’t, do it again. That's why it's drawn this way as a cycle because that's how we think about it. It's an iterative loop. 

It's really important that you have a good sense of self as you go into this process. If you don't have a good idea of what it is that you want to do, your style, your values, your skills, your interests, and those experiences that you can have that you can leverage to go pursue that new opportunity, you might find yourself back where you are now, which is that sense of frustration with the career path that you're on. 

That's why you're exploring this transition to begin with. We want to make sure that you've done that self exploration and you have a good understanding of self as you embark in this refinement process.

This session is going to show you how to leverage your past and to redirect your future. We're going to talk about things you've accomplished and then ultimately how to repackage that up and take it to market to pursue those new career paths that you're excited about.

Narrow Down Your Options

In this section, we’re going to talk about how to start to narrow down your options. 

You've gone through the process of expanding all the possibilities and looking at what's possible. Now how are you going to start to make some steps and decisions on how to narrow that down to what you want to do? 

Career shifts of any kind take time, and they're iterative. What we mean by that is it's not that you just go out and look at all the possibilities and you think about what you want to do, and then you just go do it. 

What we recommend is to try it out. Not necessarily go take that job, but do an informational interview, actually apply for the jobs. Go to an interview, talk to people. See if this is really a job you want to pursue, and it's one that really excites you. 

You want to think of it like a designer. You're going to go out and you're going to try it, and you're going to come back and try it again. You're going to iterate and get yourself to a place of higher certainty and higher excitement around a role that you want to pursue.

We recommend that you start to structure the information and track it all. If you keep it all in your head, that's when it really starts to feel overwhelming and feel like you're juggling too many balls and there's too many things in the air. Use the Career Shift Planner tool that we've created to manage your career shift.

You need to know yourself to make these better decisions. Ask yourself: 

  • How does this match my work style and skills? 
  • What are the things that I'm naturally motivated to do? 
  • What are the skills I have already that energize me that I'm interested in doing? 
  • How does this occupation fit my values, the things that matter to me, how does this job fit my values?
  • How much does it align with my interests, the things that motivate me and get me excited to get out of bed in the morning?

As we're looking at opportunities and we're looking at jobs, these are the things we want to continue to ask ourselves in the process. 

We really want to get it down to one to three choices. If you have five or more options, that’s going to be hard to manage. The more you have, the less time and effort you can put into each one. 

We really recommend that you do one to three and then what you do is one out one in, so if you're exploring three possibilities, keep it to three. If you've ruled one out, but you're not really settled yet, then add one back and then test. Take one out, put one back, keep it tight. If you have too many, you just won't be able to make that progress.

That rigor and that forcing yourself to be decisive is really valuable. That's not to say that it's the final decision, but just keep the set small as you work through it, to help you prioritize. 

We have a tool, Teal’s Career Shift Research tool, to help you track and prioritize the options you’re excited about. Watch the video for a thorough walkthrough of how to use it. We highly recommend that you use this tool. 

Right now you're in this exploratory phase of thinking about what's possible and what are all the things that you could do? There are so many choices, so we want you to plan to experiment. One of the best ways to do that is through having conversations and getting exposure because it might be one thing to have an idea of what an occupation is, but until you really get to test it, you don't know.

The idea of going and doing an internship as a mid-career professional, that's pretty daunting and not realistic, but doing informational interviews, maybe taking on a little bit of volunteer work, those are actually very possible, and doing a project on your own is very possible.

Here are some things you can do to make a plan to experiment: 

It's really important that you build the plan, and we recommend using Teal’s Career Shift tool to do so.  

The more you can get it down on paper and out of your head, that will free you up to think of possibilities and the exciting things you can do. 

The best way to know what you want to do is to actually get to do the work yourself, and a low risk way to do it is to volunteer. There is a great platform called Catch A Fire where you can volunteer to help nonprofits. It’s a great way for you to start to build that portfolio of work that will help you with that career transition or that career pivot in the future. 

Audit Your Experience

In this section, we want to talk about your existing experiences.

A lot of times, for folks making a career pivot or a career shift, they say they don't have experience doing that, or they don't have those abilities. The truth is, most skills are transferable unless they're highly specific. What we want to talk about is a process for you to go and audit your experiences, to help you make that case for you in a new position that you didn't have before.

Your accomplishments can help you translate your skills in a very specific way about thinking about your abilities. It's not just saying I know Salesforce, or I know HubSpot, or I know Photoshop, or I know how to do sales. You're going to need to prove that you know how to do these things.

We want to talk about a way of thinking about accomplishments and documenting accomplishments so that you can use them as you make that case for yourself, as you look for these new positions. 

An achievement is empirical proof that shows you have a skill, and empirical is the key word here.

Obviously they're still taking your word because they weren't there, but it is a way for you to make a case empirically with data that shows you've done that thing. It's a great way to document your experiences. 

The way we think about an achievement is it's the skill plus the proof. Again, we're talking about proof in this empirical way, things that you can back up and you can speak to and someone could reference check you on.

So here's an example of an achievement:

The skill is planning events or organizing an event. Maybe you're transitioning from product management, from HR into event marketing, but you've organized an event because you did it for a company event, and you really like it, and you want to go to event marketing.

You organized an event for a potential of 500 members that led to 90 new leads. Right now,  you've got the skill. Event planning, event organization, and proof. What was the outcome for the business? What you need to do is talk about these achievements that you've done in this empirical way. and then you can recontextualize it, as you tell your story. 

What we want you to do is start to think about things that you’ve done over the jobs that you’ve had, and write down your achievements this way by looking for the skill. It might not be specific to the role, but most skills are transferable, so prove that you did it. 

Think about the following: Did you…

  • Solve a major problem?
  • Save the company money?
  • Improve something?
  • Train, mentor, or manage anyone?
  • Create something new?
  • Exceed goals?

Think about those times in your career at previous jobs that you might have been involved in any of these activities. Then you can start to document those achievements. You have lots of skills and even more knowledge that can be transferred. Again, a lot of people worry that their skills aren’t transferable and that they can’t do it, but you absolutely can. 

Here are some examples of achievements:

 

Living within Teal’s Resume Builder is an awesome tool called the Achievement Assistant that helps you structure your achievements. It also provides you with suggestions, examples, and prompts to help you write impactful achievement statements. We suggest you create as many achievements as you can, and they will all be saved in your work history to go back and add to any relevant resumes. 

From this, what we want you to do is think through your past and all the things you’ve done to pinpoint those skills. 

Repackage Your Experience

In this section, we're going to talk about how to repackage your experience. What we mean by that is taking that past that we just talked about in that previous section and how to recontextualize and how to present it to get new roles.

Let’s look at a case study that I think is really relevant to what you're trying to do right now with potentially doing a career shift. 

I don't know if you know this, but in the early days, Airbnb was having a really hard time filling their spaces. The product was great, the technology was great, but they were letting the hosts take pictures of their space on their own.

What the founders did was they went out and hired professional photographers and stagers to take better pictures of the apartments. After that, their growth skyrocketed. Same apartments, same platform, same user experience, but better photography. The point here and the moral of the story is that how you package it and how you present it makes all the difference in the world.

That's what we want you to do with yourself. You're the product that you are taking to market. That product has incredible features, but you have to make sure that you present them right to the market so that they want it. Let's talk a little bit about how we do that.

Employers won't assume that your skills are transferable. What I mean by that is they're not going to read your resume of that time that you were an event planner, and now you're looking to go into recruiting. They're not going to give you the credit. They're not going to assume all those incredible things that you did and how they transfer over to this new role. 

Hiring is a risky proposition, so when people are hiring, they're not looking for reasons to say yes, they're looking for reasons to say no. You need to do that repackaging. You need to build those bridges for them to understand how and what you did is relevant to what they want you to do.

You want to show that you have those abilities, you meet those requirements that they're asking for. It's just a new context ,and that's why you're eventually going to talk about those achievements in the form that we talked about, but framed under the needs that they have. 

So you have your achievements, the things you've done. You have their requirements in a different context. Your job is to put those two things together.

That's a really important part of this repackaging we're talking about. 

You're going to want to focus on your skills that are most general. Sometimes occupations and roles are going to have very specific needs, a particular software or a very specific industry domain knowledge. Obviously those you can't fabricate and have them come up overnight, but I would say that the majority of skills on a job are actually these general skills that you can recontextualize and that you definitely can learn.

The more you can understand your general and transferable skills, the better you can identify and begin to close those gaps. This will help you make a better case for going into a certain position Here are some examples of general skills that are transferable. 

A job posting is the place that's going to tell you that difference. Before you start to apply, this is part of that exploration you can do. Go and start to look at job descriptions and see what they're asking for. Here's an example of a job description that we've just copied and pasted for a position.

You can find which ones of these are transferable. Here’s our example:

Then you can look at your experiences and your achievements because you start to build up that master resume or that career history. You can start to put them side by side with the job requirements, and you're going to be very encouraged to see that, little by little, you can do many of these things.

There may be a few of those that are super specific and that you can't, but the transferable ones are going to show you that you can do this. 

We have a tool to help you do that. It's called our Job Tracker, and there’s a Chrome extension that you install on your web browser. You can go ahead and start to bookmark jobs, right on LinkedIn or Indeed, or many of the job boards. Then when you bookmark a job and come back to the tracker, it'll start to highlight those keywords for you automatically. Watch the video for a thorough walkthrough of this feature. 

To eventually make that case for yourself for a job that you're transitioning into or career pivoting you're going to need to do that repackaging. These are all the places that's going to need repackaging:

  • Resume
  • LinkedIn profile
  • Networking introductions
  • Interviewing responses
  • Negotiation tactics

You're going to want to make sure that in every part of the process, you're going to build those bridges. If they say you've never done this before, you show them the proof that you have. Show them the outcome and how the business benefited. You may not have done it in their context, but you can prove that you’ve done it before. 

This is another reason we tell you to pick one to three. Really one is better because you don't want to come off as confused on your presentation material. If you're exploring product management, product marketing, let's say UX design, and you talk about all three in each of these places, it's going to really water down your offering to the market.

What we would recommend is do one, and try it for a few weeks. If you're not getting the interest, it's proving to not be as exciting for you, then change it and do the next one. But these are all the places that's going to have to come through. 

Now, those achievements, you're going to recontextualize them into different places. You’re still going to want to document those, but every time you're going to want to repackage them because you have to make that case for yourself. 

We recommend that you start to document this all in the master resume template in our Resume Builder. It's a way for you to document everything, your various versions of your blurb, all the versions of your titles that you have, the titles that you want. Having all of these documented here in one place can be a really helpful time saver. 

I can't emphasize this enough – Making a career shift is an iterative process, and you're going to want to go through these cycles. It doesn't just have to be one decision. Try one, go have informational interviews, apply to a few jobs, look at a lot of the JDs.

If you don't like it, then go back and try again. Really think about this as an agile development process. It's iterative and you're going to learn with each cycle. Every time you go around that cycle, you're going to get closer and closer to that job that really excites you. You're going to take it. You're going to get it. You’re going to land it. 

Then if you don't like that, then you can do it again. Careers are long, they're non-linear, they're windy roads. When you're on a journey to finding that work that really excites you and fulfills you, that end goal is going to be incredible, and we're here to help you with it.

Make sure that you remember it's an iterative process. Approach it with that growth mindset, and you will step by step find that job that's super fulfilling, meaningful, and super exciting. 

Wrap Up

The main thing we want you to take away from this class is that you need to build the bridges for companies.

You have a tremendous amount of experience. You've done incredible things. Companies will not give you credit for that out of the box. You need to do that repackaging for them. You're going to have to re-contextualize it for them. You're going to have to make your case. 

Go take that time. Document all your achievements, all the incredible things you've done. Hopefully this will all help you in your career shift process. 

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Dave Fano

Founder and CEO of Teal, Dave is a serial entrepreneur with 20+ years of experience building products & services to help people leverage technology and achieve more with less.

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