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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

Career Coach

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Last Updated on February 11, 2021

10 Secrets of Making Every Presentation Fun, Engaging, and Enjoyable

10 Secrets of Making Every Presentation Fun, Engaging, and Enjoyable

Not a lot of people are good at public speaking. You could even say that virtually everyone needs to get some practice, and preferably good guidance, before they can learn to stay calm when facing a room full of people. Having all eyes on you is an uncomfortable experience and it takes time to get used to. However, even if you can manage to control your stage fright and stay focused, it doesn’t necessarily mean that your presentation won’t put people to sleep. This is usually the case with long presentations on a very dull subject, with the presenter speaking in a monotone voice and dimming the lights to play a PowerPoint presentation.

You have to work hard to develop the right skills

If you want to be remembered and actually get people engaged, you need to make your presentation fun and enjoyable, without coming off as corny or desperate to please. I know, it doesn’t sound that easy at all! A good presentation during a promotional event or given to an important client can be a game changer for your business, so it is easy to get stressed out and fail to perform all that well. Luckily, giving an interesting lecture is something that can be practiced and perfected. There is plenty of advice out there on the topic, but let’s look at the most important aspects of giving a memorable and fun presentation.

1. Make your presentation short and sweet

With very long, meandering speeches you tend to lose the audience pretty early on, and from then on out it’s just a test of endurance for the few bravest listeners. Not only will people’s attention start to drop rapidly after sitting and listening to you talk for 30 minutes, but you also risk watering down your core ideas and leaving your audience with little in the way of key phrases and important bits of information to take away from the whole ordeal. Famous speakers throughout history have known the importance of condensing the information by using well thought out sentences and short phrases loaded with meaning.

JFK’s famous: ”It’s not what your country can do for you, but what you can do for your country,” expresses so much in very few words and gets the audience thinking. Ancient Spartans, for example were famous for their quick, dry wit, often demolishing their opponent’s argument with a single word or phrase. You’ll want to channel that ancient spirit and be as concise as possible when preparing your presentation.

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2. Open up with a good ice breaker

At the beginning, you are new to the audience. There is no rapport, no trust and the atmosphere is fairly neutral. Even if some of the people there know you personally, the concept of you as an authority on a particular matter giving a speech will be foreign to them. The best way to encourage a warm and friendly atmosphere is to get some kind of emotional response out of the audience right at the beginning. It doesn’t matter what emotion it is, you just need to connect with them on a more personal level. It can be shock, curiosity, laughter, knowing smirks, nervousness – whatever gets them out of that initial feeling of indifference. There are different kinds of effective ice-breakers, but generally speaking, the most successful ones utilize one of these tactics:

  • Joking
  • Tugging on their heart strings
  • Dropping a bombastic statement
  • Telling an interesting and relevant anecdote
  • Using a metaphor or drawing comparisons

You can make a small, self-deprecating comment, stir the presentation one way and then suddenly surprise the audience, use sarcasm, open up with a short childhood story that taught you a lesson, quote a famous person and elaborate on it from personal experience, use an inspirational anecdote or hit them with a bit of nostalgia. Just remember to keep it short and move on once you’ve gotten a reaction.

3. Keep things simple and to the point

Once you’re done warming up the crowd you can ease them into the core concepts and important ideas that you will be presenting. Keep the same presentation style thoughout. If you’ve started off a bit ironic, using dry wit, you can’t just jump into a boring monologue. If you’ve started off with a bang, telling a couple of great little jokes and getting the crowd riled up, you have to keep them happy by throwing in little jokes here and there and being generally positive and energetic during the presentation. You need a certain structure that you won’t deviate too far from at any point. A good game plan consists of several important points that need to be addressed efficiently. This means moving on from one point to another in a logical manner, coming to a sound conclusion and making sure to accentuate the key information.

4. Use a healthy dose of humor

Some of the best speeches and presentations in the world, which have been heard and viewed by millions, all feature plenty of humor. No matter the subject, a great speaker will use natural charisma, humor and beautiful language to convey their points and get the crowd excited about what they are saying. A great example of building rapport with the audience through the use of humor is Barrack Obama talking about the government building Iron Man.

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It is silly and fun, and absolutely not something that you would expect from a man in a position of power speaking in such a serious setting – and it’s exactly why it works. The more serious the situation and the bigger the accent on proper social behavior, the harder your jokes will hit.

5. Try to tell a story instead of ranting

Some people can do all of the above things right and still manage to turn their short and fun little presentation into a chaotic mess of information. You don’t want your speech to look like you just threw a bunch of information in a blender in no particular order. To avoid rambling, create a strong structure. Start with the ice breaker, introduce the core concepts and your goals briefly, elaborate on the various points in a bit more detail, draw logical conclusions and leave your audience with a clear takeaway message. You want to flow naturally from one part to the next like you are telling a big story chapter by chapter.

6. Practice your delivery

Standing in front of the mirror and practicing a speech or presentation is a technique as old as mirrors – well, come to think of it, as old as human speech, since you can see yourself reflected in any clear and calm body of water – and that means that it is tried and true. The theory is incredibly simple, yet the real problem is actually putting in the effort day in and day out. Work on your posture, your tone of voice, accent, pauses between sentences and facial expressions. The most important thing is to talk slowly and loudly enough to be heard and understood clearly. Many famous speakers, such as Demosthenes and King George VI, overcame speech impediments through hard work.

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7. Move around and use your hands

Although you won’t instill confidence in your project if you are very jittery, moving around erratically, not knowing what to do with your hands and making fast movements, standing dead still can be just as bad. You shouldn’t be afraid to use your arms and hands when talking as it makes you seem more passionate and confident. The same goes for moving around and taking up some space. However, try to make slower, calculated and deliberate movements. You want your movements to seem powerful, yet effortless. You can achieve this through practice.

8. Engage the audience by making them relate

Sometimes you will lose the audience somewhat in techno-babble, numbers, graphs and abstract ideas. At that point it is important to reel them back in using some good, old-fashioned storytelling. Make comparisons to events from everyday life that most people are more than familiar with. By making things look simple, not only will you help your audience get a better understanding of the subject by enabling them to visualize the information more clearly, you will also draw a connection between you. After all, you are all just regular people with similar experience, you just happen to be performing different roles at the moment.

9. Use funny images in your slides

Although slides are not really necessary at all times, if you do need them to make your point and present your information more effectively, it’s best to liven them up. They say that facts aren’t always black and white, and your presentation should reflect this. Add a bit of color, make the information stand out and use an interesting animation to switch from slide to slide. You can use the slides to add some more humor, both in terms of the text and the images. An image that is used to elicit a positive response needs to be funny within the context of what you are discussing. For example, if you are discussing the topic of authority, an image of Eric Cartman from South Park in a police uniform, demanding that you respect his “authoritah,” is a nice way to have a bit of fun and lighten things up.

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10. End on a more serious note

When all is said and done you will want the audience to remember the core concepts and keep thinking about what you have said after the presentation is over. This is why you should let things naturally calm down and end with an important idea, quote or even a question. Plant a seed in their mind and make them think. Let us turn to Patrick Henry for a great way to end a speech: “Is life so dear or peace so sweet as to be purchased at the price of chains and slavery? Forbid it, Almighty God! I know not what course others may take; but as for me, give me liberty or give me death.”

As you can see, there is quite a bit to learn when it comes to giving a good presentation, one that is both memorable and fun. Be sure to work on your skills tirelessly and follow in the footsteps of great orators.

Featured photo credit: Austin Distel via unsplash.com

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