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When you are making a career change, it might feel like there is absolutely nothing you like about your job. Your boss undermines you, your coworkers hate you, and your work is torture and drudgery. But unless you took your job knowing all that, something drew you in at the beginning. Here is a way to get more energy before a career change so you can put it to work in a new opportunity. And perhaps you’ll be less miserable at your current job while you’re in the process.
What do you do that gives you energy at your job?
What did you do at work yesterday that you liked? If you can’t think of anything yesterday, what have you done this week that you enjoyed? Did you research some alternatives to your company’s current vendor? Troubleshoot the cause of that software glitch? Settle an argument between coworkers before it escalated? Help someone out? Whatever you did, write it down.
Pick out the most powerful verb from that activity.
The verb is what you’re going for here. It’s what we call a transferable activity, meaning you can use it in your current job or in your next job. In the examples above, the verbs would be research, troubleshoot, mediate, and assist. If you are having trouble choosing yours from the activity you wrote down, take a look at this list of power verbs for resumes. Pick a few that you enjoy doing.
Add some context.
That’s a fancy way of saying, “Who did you do this to/for/with and why?” One of my favorite activities is building rapport with new people. I do that now when I’m presenting, meeting with a new coaching client, or giving a teleclass. I also did it as a systems engineer, before I made a career change of my own, when I was meeting with stakeholders to discuss how they’d be affected by changes to the computer network. Earlier in my career, I used that ability in website development and in sales prior to that. In my case, the context doesn’t matter very much for that particular strength. When you start looking at the work you’ve done over the years through the lens of one of your favorite activities, you’ll find that you’ve used them over and over again in different ways.
Here’s an example of when context does matter.
Two of my favorite activities are teaching and advising. About 5 years ago, I volunteered as a mentor at a local middle school. It should have been perfect, an outlet for me to share relevant past experience and an opportunity to make a difference in the life of a young person. But I hated it. It was more of a tutoring session and the kids would rather bond with each other than talk with their mentors. Every time I went, I dreaded it before I got there and left feeling drained.
The problem was the context – specifically, who I was doing this for. I learned that my context for advising and teaching is “I love teaching adults techniques and concepts for feeling more energized and living on purpose, especially in their career.” Teaching kids about geometry wasn’t cutting it for me.
Write out your verb and its context as “I love [verb][context].”
Your sentence might become, “I love researching SEO keywords for new websites I’m building for my customers.” Or, “I love mediating between my coworkers so we can share our different approaches without destroying the team we’ve built.” Or, “I love troubleshooting bugs in programming for my more junior coworkers when they come to me with a glitch they haven’t been able to solve.”
Keep these statements in mind when you are planning a career change.
You’ll find that once you’ve defined the activities you love, who you love to do them with/to/for, and why, you’ll be able to express how you will use them in your job – current and future. You’ll be much more confident when you interview for a career change and others will notice that confidence.