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Published on March 12, 2019

The Ultimate Work Skills List to Help You Change Careers

The Ultimate Work Skills List to Help You Change Careers

Career changes are tough. As adults, there are many factors that impact our decisions – family, finances, life partner, or the labor market. As you analyze and plan, it’s easy to fall victim to your own preconceived notions and jaded assumptions.

You may even talk yourself out of the change and stay where you are as you get stuck in your loop of thoughts and worries. Instead, I urge you to understand the emotions attached to change and apply this work skills list to help manage the emotions that come with your next career transition.

Get ready to peel back the layers, do some inner work, and exercise your mental tenacity to embrace your desired career change.

Recognize the Emotions of Change

While individual reactions to change will vary, there are some common emotions that you’ll likely experience as you embark on a career change.[1]

1. Fear of the Unknown

Humans are creatures of habit, and like feeling safe and comfortable. Uncertain thoughts and emotions can flood our minds as we embrace change:

  • What if I fail?
  • I’ll need to go back to school.
  • It’s too late to make a change now.

2. Frustration and Anxiety

The thought of changing careers may have you stuck in worryville and it’s common for self-doubt to creep into your mind.

The mere thought of how a career change may impact your life can bring about behaviours that stall you from taking tiny steps toward any changes:

  • I can’t take a pay cut.
  • My family depends on me.
  • I’ll need to start from scratch.
  • I’ve worked hard for my promotions, benefits and pension.

3. Know Your Emotional Triggers

While we desire changes in our lives, we’re sometimes met with resistance within ourselves.[2] It will take time to address and overcome the stories and assumptions that we’ve told ourselves since our experiences have likely clouded our perceptions and judgements.

The good news? This is a great opportunity to shift your mindset and challenge your own beliefs. As you embrace your next career change, tiny or big, track your thought patterns:

  • What are you telling yourself and why? During uncertain times our inner critic and negative thoughts can easily enter our brain. You have a chance to replace your self-doubt with new ones, or at least learn to tame them.
  • Check your assumptions. Challenge preconceived notions about yourself. Are they really true and how can you confirm them?
  • Question preconceived notions of what others are thinking about you. What’s the importance of their thoughts? Why does it matter to you so much? Are you seeking their approval?

Looking inward and being honest with yourself can help you move forward with career changes that you desire.

Work Skills to Change Careers and Thrive at Your Next Job

In my 15 plus year working career, I’ve experienced four major career changes so far. And each time, I learn something new that I wish I would have known to make each career transition a little easier.

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1. Fill up on Patience

Our world of work is changing so fast. You’ll need to be able to naturally go with the ebbs and flows of your career. Equip yourself with these skills to embrace your next opportunity and challenge:

Sleep.[3] Recharging your brain sufficiently with at least 7 hours of sleep can help you to manage emotional challenges and you’ll be less likely to overreact when you get annoyed or frustrated. Sleep needs to be your first priority, not an afterthought, so that you can optimize your health and tackle your goals.[4]

Slow down. We sometimes have a tendency to rush through our day without much thought. When you feel rushed or impatient, take mindful breaths and pause. Be deliberate about your next action.

2. Grow with Rejection by Leveraging Your Strengths

You’ll likely talk about your career change with those close to you, and eventually with others as you gather more information to help you make informed decisions about the changes you want to make.

While some will be supportive, you’ll be faced with some naysayers who will dismiss your ideas or worse – not respond. This may add to your self-doubt.

Have courage. This is the best time to focus on your strengths and what’s important to you.

Give yourself time. When feelings become uncomfortable, it’s easy to ignore them and rush into something else, but they will always be there until you address those emotions. Pause and reflect on what happened. You’ll likely find a few ‘ah-ha’ moments to help you become more resilient.

Exercise compassion. You may feel angry, in denial, shame, loneliness or embarrassment.[5] However, this is the best time to be kind to yourself and reset. Do something you enjoy, like going for a run or getting lost in a bookstore. Even helping a loved one during this time can help you be grateful for what you do have and see a different perspective.

3. Exercise Self-Approval and Notice Your Confidence Level

You, and only you, need to live with your career choices and ultimately your life choices.

As human beings, we want to feel connected, be accepted by others, and belong to a group. So it’s natural for us to want to seek approval from others about our decisions.

Your professional presence can easily be observed by others. Reflect on your confidence level:

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Are you constantly seeking praise from your manager? Or is there a possibility that you’ve been overconfident and dismissed someone’s feedback or critique of your work?

There’s a fine line between being confident, assertive, aggressive, or arrogant. Note how these behaviors have shown up and impacted your career.

4. Be Open to Experiment

Changing careers is a time of discovery. As adults, it’s easy to make snap assumptions based on our experiences. Take a beginners mindset to learning about the changes you want to make. This will help you be more open to trial and error during the process.

Step away from scrolling the Internet and actually talk to people working in the industry that you’re interested in through informational interviews. Some information may peak your interest to speak to more people or you may have gained insights that will make you shift in an entirely different direction. The information you gather will help you make informed and confident decisions about your next move.

5. Listen Deeply and Hone Your Observation Skills

This includes observations about yourself and your environment.

Pay attention to what you’re doing to gain self-awareness and take time to be attuned to your surroundings. This includes noticing your workplace culture, your colleagues work styles, your team dynamics, and various communication channels used.

Learn more about observation skills in this article:

How Observational Learning Can Have a Huge Impact on Productivity

6. Think Critically, Be a Self-Starter, and Take Initiative

“The only thing that is constant is change” — Heraclitus

Be adaptable and open to learn new skills.

Jobs are evolving, and we need to be open to learn creative ways to get work done. The more you learn the more informed you’ll be. You can then create new ideas or try different combinations to achieve results.

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With industries changing and businesses needing to adapt to thrive in competitive markets, people need to show and articulate their value and contributions to support business needs.

This may mean having the foresight in your area of expertise to help companies make informed decisions. For example, the ability to discern large amounts of information using research skills and presenting them to key influencers in plain language.

All of these skills sets will help you achieve your ultimate goals.

Don’t be afraid to ask for help or ask questions to clarify. This will show that you’re listening and paying attention to your work.

To keep your skills fresh and your brain sharp, keep learning:

15 Ways to Cultivate Lifelong Learning for a Sharper Brain

7. Ability to Influence Without Authority

Whether you report to one person, work in a matrix organization or as an entrepreneur, you’ll need to interact with others. You’ll need to be able to negotiate, convince and sometimes sell others’ on why your services, products, or recommendations would be of benefit.

You won’t always be in a position of power. So having the ability to influence people is a key work skill to have.

The next time you go out to dinner with friends or family test out your abilities to influence. Try to convince everyone to choose the restaurant you prefer. What happens?

Take a look at this article and improve your communication skills:

How to Be Influential and Gain Respect at Work

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8. Build Quality Relationships and Manage Office Politics

As you transition to a new career and begin working in a new role, having and continuing to build quality relationships is essential to support all aspects of your career growth and productivity.

Knowing when and how to have difficult conversations in a productive manner is an essential skill to achieve both personal and professional goals. Conflict between people are inevitable so the ability to resolve emotional responses is a key life skill to have.

These conflict management skills will be useful for you:

Conflict Management Styles for Effective Communication at Work

Summing It Up

This ultimate work skills list will help you to change careers and thrive in your next role.

It’s important to recognize your emotions associated with change. Otherwise, we’ll continue to carry forward the same mindset to our next career and it will rear its ugliness again if left uncoached.

Always keep the ultimate work skills list in your pocket:

  • Build your patience muscle
  • Manage and grow with each rejection
  • Exercise self-approval and notice your confidence level
  • Listen deeply and hone your observation skills
  • Be open to experiment
  • Think critically, be a self-starter, and take initiative
  • Ability to influence without authority
  • Build quality relationships and manage office politics

Committing yourself to these work skills will help you ease the jitters of your career change and continue to build the career skills necessary in any professional environment in our changing world of work.

What career changes are you working on, tiny or big? Notice your emotions and thoughts as you address this change. From the work skills list, choose one that resonates with you the most and apply one aspect of that skill to your career change and your new career. What do you notice?

There’s no right or wrong way to approach your career change. Do what feels natural to you. Be creative and open to experiment.

More Resources About Essential Work Skills

Featured photo credit: rawpixel via unsplash.com

Reference

[1] University of Exeter: The Change Curve
[2] Steven Pressfield’s book: Do the Work: Overcoming Resistance and Get Out of Your Own Way
[3] Febritius and Hagermann’s Book: The Leading Brain: Neuroscience Hacks to Work Smarter, Better, Happier
[4] National Sleep Foundation: How Lack of Sleep Impacts Cognitive Performance and Focus
[5] National Center for Biotechnology Information: Emotional Responses to Interpersonal Rejection

More by this author

Ami Au-Yeung

Workplace Strategist | Career Coach | Workshop Facilitator | Writer | Speaker | Past Business Professor

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Published on January 28, 2020

How to Ace an Interview: Nailing the 10 Most Tricky Questions

How to Ace an Interview: Nailing the 10 Most Tricky Questions

As someone who has been in recruiting for over 10 years I can tell you the interview is vitally important to getting that new job you really want. During the interview process, there will most likely be at least 2 interviews, a phone interview and an in person interview. Both are important.

Companies can of course have different interviewing processes but in general, there is at least one phone interview, also known as a phone screen, and a live, in-person interview. The in-person interview can be with one person or it might be with a variety of people. While they are both important, the live interview is typically the one that will make or break you as a candidate for the position you are interviewing for.

Many of the interview questions we will review here will more likely come up during the live interview. But it’s a good idea to be prepared for them on the phone interview as well.

To illustrate how important the live interview is, I’ll tell you about my search that happened a year ago. I’d decided it was time to move on from the role I’d been in for a little over 6 years. As I started researching and looking for a new opportunity, I began down the path with 2 companies. With the one I landed with, I’d had 3 separate phone screens, each one an hour long. They must have thought they went well because I was asked to fly to the city where the corporate office is at and do an in-person interview. — with 8 people.

Yeah, it was a long day. The good news is I rocked the interviews across the board. I flew home that evening and the following day, I received a call with the job offer. That was less than 24 hours after I’d had the in person interview. This is how important the live interview is.

So how to ace an interview? We can dive right in to helping you nail the 10 most tricky interview questions:

1. What’s Your Biggest Weakness?

This is a personal favorite of mine. The primary reason for this question is not to actually find out what your biggest weakness is. Unless of course, you say something like “showing up to work on a regular basis,” then it’s probably going to get you kicked out of consideration for the role.

The main reason for someone asking you this question is to see if you are self-aware. That is if you know your weaknesses and are smart enough to account for them.

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The smart play here is to answer in a modest way. You want to be able to show that your biggest weakness actually has an upside. For instance, I usually say that mine is impatience. Which is true, I like to get things done. But what I ensure what I point out is that even though I am impatient, it’s because I like to crank and get a lot of work done.

2. Why Do You Want to Work Here?

Interestingly enough, a lot of people don’t have an answer to this question. It’s designed to find out if you’ve actually done research on the company and if you are excited about this position.

When I ask this question, many people have told me something like “because it looks like a good opportunity”. I mean, can you be any more generic?

The key to answering this is to show you’ve done research on the company and that you are enthusiastic about the actual position. Companies want people that are excited to work there, not just someone that shows up for a paycheck.

3. Where Do You See Yourself in 5 Years?

Employers are asking you this question to see if you have somewhat of a plan for your career. It doesn’t have to be completely mapped out in a step by step manner but, a general overall plan is good to see. It means you are goal oriented and are working towards something.

Don’t worry about answering in a way that states you are planning on sticking with the company until you retire. Rather, focus more on how it’s important to you to continue to learn and get better and better at what you do. Companies like to hire self-motivated people.

4. Tell Me About a Time You Messed Up

Or tell me about a time something didn’t work out the way you planned. Similar in concept. The key here is to show that you take accountability for your actions and how you react to things going wrong.

Companies like to see that you are willing to accept responsibility for the things you oversee and own up when you are wrong. People that always find a way to blame their missteps on other people or circumstances typically don’t make good team mates.

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The other component here is things don’t always go as planned, how good are you at adapting and thinking on your feet.

5. Why Are You Looking to Leave Your Current Job?

This may seem like a place to launch into all the things you don’t like about your current job. Or to talk about what a terrible person your boss is. Don’t do it. That’s the path you do not want to go down. And that’s really what this question tends to prod out of many people.

If I am interviewing you and ask this question and you tell me all the ways your boss doesn’t appreciate you and your company has terrible leadership, I’m thinking what you’re going to be saying about me in a year when you are interviewing somewhere else.

Make sure you are framing your answer in a way that doesn’t shed bad light on your current or most recent employer. You want to focus on things like you’ve enjoyed working for the company but your growth options are limited there so you are exploring outside opportunities.

6. How Would Your Current Manager Describe You?

This question gives you the opportunity to show off your strengths and what your boss appreciates about what you bring to the table. You want to focus on the positive traits that your boss likes and how it helps you in your role.

What you do not want to do is sprinkle in the things your boss doesn’t think as highly of. Don’t say something like my boss would describe me as a focused worker, at least on the days I make it into the office.

7. Tell Me About a Time You Overcame an Obstacle

Another one of my favorite questions. Interviewers ask this question to see if you are able to deal with roadblocks.

Things don’t always go smoothly, so having people on the team who are able to solve problems has huge upside.

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Being able to overcome obstacles is a great trait to have. Make sure you have a few stories about how something didn’t go as planned that caused a challenge and how you were involved in solving the problem. It’s a way of turning a bad situation into a good one.

8. Why Should We Hire You?

If you are at the point of a live interview, you should be highly interested in the position.

By this point, you should have a pretty clear picture of what the role is and how your skills and experience will help you succeed. The reason this question is being asked is to see if you are the right candidate for this role.

This gives you a great opportunity to tell your interviewer how your expertise will positively impact the role. Right now, you are in the spotlight to clearly show that your experience is the perfect fit for the position and why. Shine on!

9. What’s Your Greatest Achievement?

Employers tend to ask this question to gain an understanding of what your big wins were. What are the really impactful things that have happened during your career and how you were the reason why they happened.

This is another great opportunity for you to toot your own horn. What you want to be conscious of is how you tell the story about your biggest achievement. You want to make sure you say why it was such a big achievement.

If possible, it’s always good to include your team as part of the big win. Employers love to hire people who can make things happen but, it’s also important they understand the importance of team work.

10. Do You Have Any Questions for Me?

You might be asking yourself why this is a tricky question. Honestly, it’s not a tricky question if you are prepared for it.

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What the interviewer is looking for here is how interested and excited you are for the position. You’d be surprised at how many people answer this question with a blank stare or have no questions prepared.

Again, if you are at a live interview, you should be highly interested in a position and the company. You will convey how interested you are in the opportunity with some well thought out questions to ask.

You don’t want to just ask one question like “How often is payday”? Have at least 4 to 5 questions prepared but don’t overwhelm your interviewer with dozens and dozens of questions. Show that you’ve given some serious thought to this position by coming prepared with solid questions to ask.

The Bottom Line

There you go, insight to nailing the 10 most tricky questions during the interview process. There are, of course, many other questions you might get asked during the interview process but, these tend to be the ones that trip most people up.

Remember to take your time and thoroughly prepare for the interview. You don’t have to memorize your answers or anything but having a good idea of how you’d answer these questions will help you ace the next interview.

Here’s to being career advancement ready!

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Featured photo credit: Romain V via unsplash.com

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