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10 Essential Career Change Questions To Ask Yourself This Year

10 Essential Career Change Questions To Ask Yourself This Year

If you are thinking about changing your career this year, then now more than ever you need to take charge. That means thinking about the direction of your career and its role in your life.

It’s important that you answer these 10 essential career change questions. They matter not only because now is a time to reflect but also because the world of work is changing rapidly and if you want to change or advance your career, you need to be prepared.

Changes in the workplace will make a difference in how we think about our work. Workplace trends in 2017 include jobs that “require human creativity, flexibility, judgment, and ‘soft skills.’ They don’t need skills that are repetitive or could be automated, so knowing how you fit in is key.

Early in 2016 Seth Godin wrote “Ten Questions for Work That Matters.” Those are helpful guidelines for creating work that matters to the world. Here are the 10 most up-to-date questions you need to ask yourself it you’re planning on changing careers this year.

1.What does your career do for you? 

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Some people work because they want the paycheck, some want the prestige, some have an end goal or level of advancement in mind. Some people believe in the mission they are working to accomplish. What does work do for you? Why do you get out of bed every day? Is it simply for the paycheck, or is there something more? Do you have career aspirations and goals?

2. Why are you making a change?

Sometimes people are sick of their boss, co-workers, office space, or the rut they’ve fallen into. In that case, what they might need is a new job. Sometimes they really do want to do something different. They are tired of the challenges at their current career and are ready to take on something new. Other times the industry they are in is no longer thriving and they want to do something that has more potential. Do you need a new job or new career? What is really motivating you to make a career change?

3. What matters to you?

Making a change to something you don’t care about might not be a great idea, but are there other things that matter to you? Maybe it is that fat bonus you bring home and your first priority is finding another job that you can tolerate that will replace it. Whatever matters most to you, define it, and then find a career that matches with these values.

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4. What makes you happy?

What matters to you might not be your happiness – it might be your family’s happiness or something else, so this question is separate. Still, you should stop and ask yourself what makes you happy. What motivates you at work? What would you bounce out of bed to do all day? You’ve likely thought about this and then dismissed it as a fantasy. Possibly only because you haven’t been able to see the path to get there, or how to take elements of that dream and make it a reality. You can find ways to have career happiness, even if it’s not exactly what you thought it would look like at first.

5. What makes you human?

When you’re a career changer, you’re likely competing against people who have been in the field and have experience you don’t. That means you have to stand out in a different way. Luckily, as we just learned, softer people skills are going to be essential while the technical skills of (almost) any career will be considered teachable. This doesn’t mean you won’t have to work your way up or that you can become a neurosurgeon tomorrow. It does mean that you have a shot at things you might not have had a few years ago.

6. What makes you stand out from the crowd at work?

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What’s your superpower? It’s essential that you know yourself well enough (and that you’re confident enough) to be able to nail down exactly what you can do better than anyone. If you don’t know, your potential employer won’t have a clue why they should hire you over the next guy.

7. What do you do that is essential?

I admit, I basically stole this question from Seth Godin, but it’s so awesome I couldn’t help it. I mean, how many times have you wanted to crush that alarm clock with your bare hands and go back to sleep but then thought, “No, I have to . . . “? Why do you do it? What do people miss if you don’t show up? Why can’t someone else just pick up the slack? Whatever your reason, THAT’s what makes you important my friend. And it’s not just that you happen to know everything about that project at that moment in time. There’s a reason you’re juggling all those balls. You’re a good juggler. Learn to talk about that and how awesome you are at it.

8. What do you do that a robot can’t do?

Automation could crush certain industries and tasks in the future, which is why focusing in on the things you do that a robot can’t, and building your skills in that direction is smart. Future-proof your career by doing something a robot can’t do.

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9. What are you learning from your work and what do you want to learn?

Your learning and creativity are key to keeping you interested and valuable in a career. Otherwise you become a disengaged worker. So, what fascinates you? What sparks your excitement? What courses do you want to take? Learn these skills and apply them to your new career.

10. Who are you serving or giving back to with your work?

Mission driven careers are not just about feelings. Did you know that conscious companies often outperform traditional companies? In fact, Firms of Endearment companies run in a specific, socially conscious way, have have out performed the S&P 500 by 14 times in a 15 year period. It matters to the success of the company that the mission matters to you. Find one you care about.

Remember, your resume isn’t a showcase of what you have done as much as it is a demonstration of how you can get the job done and why your future employer should hire you. When you have asked and answered these questions, you’ll be prepared to make a career change this year.

Featured photo credit: freephotocc via pixabay.com

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Jessica Sweet

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Published on September 16, 2020

12 Practical Interview Skills to Help You Land Your Dream Job

12 Practical Interview Skills to Help You Land Your Dream Job

Today, with many companies going remote—at least until there’s a COVID-19 vaccine—technical proficiency is a vital skill for every interviewee to master. You may be asked to interview for a job on Zoom or Microsoft Teams. The way you handle yourself in the online interview (your interview skills) will say much about your ability to work from home efficiently.

Does your workspace look clean or cluttered? Is the area free from noise? Is your home office well lit?

Once hired, you may be asked to organize meetings on Zoom and other platforms. Along with mastering the technology, you will have to learn to follow certain protocols.

Now is the time to get up to speed on your technical skills. Learn which interview skills are needed for the particular job for which you are applying and practice them.

Online learning sites, such as LinkedIn Learning and Udemy, offer courses for free or a nominal membership fee. If you are a DIY type, make use of training videos offered through your particular digital tools.

Additionally, demonstrating that you have these 12 interview skills will help you land your dream job.

1. Organization

When you work in a brick-and-mortar office, some of the organizing is left to others. Your direct supervisor may host a Monday morning quarterback meeting where each worker reports on the progress on their tasks.

When you work from home, much of the organizing will be left up to you. To a much greater extent than before, you will need to develop a schedule and stick to it. Some tasks may be faster to complete from your home office where you don’t have other workers competing for your attention.

Conversely, you may find that some tasks that would have gone quickly in an office seem to take forever from your home computer. Your phone may ring a lot, which can distract you, or you may have kids and a spouse who inadvertently disrupt your schedule.

To do: Set a schedule and stick to it.

To discuss during your interview: Be specific. Point to the interview skill you utilized to create a schedule for a complex work project and followed it.

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2. Flexibility

You set a schedule for the completion of your tasks, but your prospective boss gets their work done between the hours of 2:00 and 8:00 a.m. Your West Coast partners are three hours behind your East Coast partners, and one of your partners lives in England while another lives in Australia.

Feedback and collaboration (see point 3) may need to happen asynchronously. Be the flexible candidate—the person who is willing to occasionally disrupt their schedule for the greater good of the team.

For extra credit: don’t just look up time zones, look up whether they observe Daylight Savings Time.

To do: Be flexible about meeting times.

To discuss during your interview: Highlight a time when you worked on a team where members lived in different time zones. Discuss your processes.

3. Collaboration

As recently as six months ago, before the pandemic raged around the world, collaboration wasn’t quite as essential as it is today. In a remote office setting, collaboration doesn’t just mean working well with others—but actually sharing documents and editing them online on time.

Several cloud-based tools, such as Google Drive, Basecamp, and Trello, enable the type of collaborative teamwork that most companies want today.

To do: Download the correct software and practice using it.

To discuss during your interview: Discuss how you worked remotely with a group. Share how you overcame certain challenges.

4. Poise

Murphy’s Law states, “Anything that can go wrong will go wrong.”

When things do go awry, keeping your wits about you will demonstrate your consummate professionalism under fire. This will show your future bosses that you will be able to work well under the pressures of remote work.

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What could go wrong, you ask? You might be muted without realizing it—your Internet connection may not be robust, your headphones may blip out, your cellphone may ring, Zoom could have an outage. The list goes on and on.

To do: Make sure you have the most up-to-date versions of Skype and Zoom uploaded.

To discuss during your interview: Consider highlighting a time when a project did not go as planned. Demonstrate the interview skills that allowed you to rise to the challenge.

5. Communication

Your ability to handle online communication is one of the top critical skills you will need to thrive in today’s remote workplace. Download Slack if you haven’t already. Get used to toggling to a different form of online communication if one of your tools fails.

When it comes to the preferred format for your online interview, demonstrate proficiency by offering several different options. Give your phone number, Google Chat Hangouts name, and Skype ID.

To do: Familiarize yourself with video conference and online chat tools, such as Slack, Fleep, or Workplace by Facebook.

To discuss during your interview: Be prepared to share the online communication tools you’re using and examples of how you use each one.

6. Good Computer Hygiene

Setting up a backup system for your computer files is one of today’s crucial requirements for working in the digital age. Storing documents that can be shared by team members is also an efficient way to work together on presentations, articles, and reports—although studies show nearly one-third of employees avoid them because of the time it takes to find documents.

Be prepared in your interview to indicate your experience utilizing this technology, describing how you organize and store files using cloud-based collaboration tools. How do you keep track of links and tabs? Do you use Dropbox? Google Docs? Confluence? Others?

To do: Take inventory of the cloud-based document sharing and storage systems you know and use.

To discuss during your interview: Describe the document sharing tools and backup systems you utilize—both for personal protection and professional file sharing.

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7. Proper Meeting Etiquette

Today, presenting yourself virtually has its pros and cons. While you only have to show a professional persona from the waist up (make sure to straighten up your office space behind you), you must boost your energy to show that you’re engaged in the discussion.

Make your voice as upbeat as possible. Have your talking points at the ready and be careful not to ramble on, as long virtual meetings easily become tiresome. Use the mute and chat features to avoid interruptions.

To do: Once you know the meeting platform, make sure you have it mastered before your interview.

To discuss during your interview: Offer to share your screen to show an example of a work project— while at the same time demonstrating your prowess with video conferencing tools.

8. Respecting Feedback

In the age of working remotely, there may not be as many systems in place to obtain feedback (such as yearly performance reviews). Workers may need to ask for feedback, while managers may need to give more feedback than usual as the team adjusts to working off-site. Respecting feedback is on top of the interview skills list that you should learn.

Taking a proactive approach with giving and receiving feedback and incorporating it into your work style is a desirable quality that your employers will note.

To do: Reflect on the positive feedback you’ve received from past employers to bolster your confidence.

To discuss during your interview: Share a time when you received feedback that made you grow in the job. If you’re a manager, share a time when you gave feedback to an employee who needed to better their job performance.

9. Project Management

Staying on task with projects has evolved far past a to-do list, with electronic tools that can track time, manage team workloads, and even do the client billing. While your prospective employer may have its preferred project management program, your experience with any of the various options—whether it’s Basecamp, Teamwork, Smartsheet, or another—will be applicable.

To do: Know which project management software is likely to be used by the industry in which you’re interviewing, and familiarize yourself with its features.

To discuss during your interview: Highlight a project management feature that is particularly useful in helping you excel in your work, and explain how you utilize it.

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10. Staying up to Speed

Employers expect their remote workers to be technically proficient so that technology runs smoothly and doesn’t create work disruptions. Bosses count on remote workers to know enough about their systems to manage them without relying on the help of overworked IT staff.

To do: Make sure you have a fast internet connection and have a back-up plan, such as a second computer or other tethered devices.

To discuss during your interview: Note that you are diligent about keeping your computer and software up to date.

11. Attention to Cybersecurity Issues

“Virus” is a loaded term these days. Spreading a computer virus in your company, however, will not only bring productivity to a halt, but it will also make you a pariah. While working from public places using free Wi-Fi (with uneven security provisions) has waned, in pre-pandemic times, coffee shops accounted for 62 percent of Wi-Fi security breaches.

To do: Keep antivirus software updated and don’t download software without verifying its authenticity.

To discuss during your interview: Emphasize your awareness of cybersecurity risks and your care in taking necessary safety measures.

12. Teamwork

Work relationships now mostly happen in virtual settings, yet employers value team-oriented workers.

Being a part of a team gives you a sense of connection and shared purpose. A well-honed team understands how mutual reliance makes the sum of its parts greater than when individuals act on their own, improving the end product.

To do: Take stock of your attributes as a team player and where you can cultivate skills that will enable you to work more collaboratively.

To discuss during your interview: Inquire about the company’s culture and how it encourages a sense of community despite working remotely.

Final Thoughts

Preparing for remote positions available in today’s job market will mean honing your interview skills to highlight your technical abilities as well as your adaptability. By adhering to these To-Do’s and perfecting your online interview skills and charisma, you will rise above the competition and win over any prospective employer.

More Tips to Improve Your Interview Skills

Featured photo credit: Christina @ wocintechchat.com via unsplash.com

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