Wednesday, August 05, 2009

A New Approach To Your Dream Job

Today's job market is anything but stable. In order to manage your career effectively you need to allow for change and be ready to take advantage of the opportunities in a dynamic economy. To do that takes a new approach to figuring out your dream job - one that , according to author Dr. Katherine Brooks, involves Chaos theory and "Wise Wanderings". Here are the highlights from my interview with Dr. Brooks last week on Making a Living regarding her new book, "You Majored in What?":

--Change is constant. We have seen the pace of change quicken in our careers. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, on average people are changing jobs an upwards of 8 times. Rather than react to change, it's important to adapt and plan for changes to come. For Dr. Brooks, Director of Liberal Arts Career Services at the University of Texas at Austin, Chaos theory is a better way of managing your career because it assumes change is a constant. It also helps you see the underlying order in chaos, even if it's not immediately apparent. Chaos theory is used to predict the weather and it can be use to predict your best career path. To do that, you have to be willing to do some wandering.
--Wandering to a wiser career path. According to Dr. Brooks, your past experiences can point to important threads or themes in your career. By writing down all of the different, interesting or significant things you've done and experienced, you can identify basic categories of your ideal career. Without organizing them, the goal is to capture proud moments, valuable life lessons, unique jobs, awards and unusual experiences that you've had both in and outside of work throughout your life. Then group these significant things that you've done or have had happen to you. For me, I wandered back through my past and identified that Career, Media, Coaching and Change were recurring themes. I had been wandering along a path of sorts all along even before formalizing my experience into the career coaching and radio hosting career I have today.
--Make the connection to your dream job. Dr. Brooks recommends that once you've identified your themes and skills, it's important to brainstorm how your skills might be of interest to an employer (or a customer if you have your own business). This is especially important for college students whose majors might not translate directly into a corporate job. For example, if you have a degree in history, you can study the history of the company you are interviewing for and point out key trends, goals and opportunities based on the lessons learned in your history courses.

Overall, we cannot expect that we will work in one industry for one employer in one line of work. That doesn't mean your career has to be chaotic. Rather your career can present a chance for you to learn and grow in new ways as evidenced by one of my favorite quotes - "Change always comes bearing gifts" (Price Prichett). What gifts can change bring for you?