Gaining career clarity is a process that is important to ensure you make the right decisions, however it is also ongoing as you and the world of work change and grow. There are several parts to gaining career clarity that we will explore. We also touch on ways that you can fall into workplace traps that ultimately leave you unhappy.
Tim Ragan and Paul Gibbons in their book (Re)Boot Your Career speak of flourishing as the target for career satisfaction, as opposed to the popular notion that following your “bliss” is the route to happiness. Flourishing requires; Spiritual Fulfillment, Engagement, Relationship Building and a sense of Achievement.
Critical to flourishing in your career is refraining to engage in “workplace traps”. These are behaviours that negatively affect your attitude in the workplace. Negative thinking can cloud your mind, distract you from achieving your goals and impede you from flourishing. Below is a short list of common workplace traps.
Tim Ragan and Paul Gibbons discuss in (Re)Boot Your Career, that it is necessary to add dimensions to happiness. The following four dimensions are seen as important in creating an effective framework for personal happiness while on the job:
Looking through job boards, pathway tools like Career Cruising, or having discussions with a career counsellor can make you feel overwhelmed about all the options out there.
Rather than looking at specific jobs at this point, it’s important to define what a rewarding career is to you, what kind of worker you are, and how you have defined happiness.
Perhaps you like participating in planning projects and activities, or you want to be involved in day-to-day tasks. Maybe because of your work/life style you need to set your own schedule or need time away from work that a typical Monday to Friday schedule will not allow.
It is important to have a broad and long range sense of what your career goals are, so that wherever you work, you can have some sense that you are working for your direction rather than just putting in time. In this way, you will know if an opportunity is the right fit for you.
Knowing your work style means you can be prepared to tackle the workplace in a way that is effective for you, and ultimately your employer. There are some specific things that you can start to identify in yourself, such as: working more independently or as a group, preference for creation or preference towards rote memorization, being in the spotlight or working “behind the scenes”.
Tim Ragan has developed a personality assessment which he has labelled the “PAVF Assessment” which can be helpful in identifying your overall personality traits as they relate to the workplace. The acronym PAVF stands for Producer, Analyzer, Visionary and Friend. These different broad categories can help identify what kind of thinker and worker you are.
Each of the PAVF work styles have their strengths and weaknesses, knowing where you lie on this spectrum can help you to identify where you can improve your strengths, and mitigate your weaknesses.
Being able to succinctly describe yourself and your aspirations is one of the keys to writing a good resumé as well as speaking with confidence during an interview. Taking the time to honestly assess yourself will lead to a resumé and interview that reflect your character, flow naturally and not feel contrived.
When you can speak about yourself in an honest and transparent way, you come across as a genuine candidate to employers. This doesn’t guarantee that every employer will see you as an appropriate fit for the position, but it does mean that when they do, you won’t need to change yourself to fit in.
To begin this exercise, it is useful to think of things that you actually enjoy and do on a regular basis.
If you are in school, which classes do you enjoy the most? Which classes have been most useful? What kinds of activities most actively stimulate your learning, and what kind of course work do you easily excel in?
Looking at what leisure activities interest you and specifically why you enjoy them also helps you learn how to describe yourself.
Your values are core beliefs that guide many important decisions. Things that go against your core values, even if they are small and not immediately significant, can add up and leave you feeling stressed and ultimately unhappy.
Going against your core values attacks your self-concept, resulting in self-doubt and a loss of confidence. Conversely, when actions do line up with your values you develop a stronger sense of confidence, joy, ease and accomplishment.
Ensuring long-term success starts with being able to define what is important to you. By doing so, you will begin to see which careers and occupations you are most compatible with.
Your toolkit represents the totality of the skills and experiences that you have collected thus far. Your toolkit contains all of the skills, personality traits, and strengths that make up “you”.
It’s time to fully explore what, from your toolkit, you want to showcase. There is probably a lot more in there than you think. The difficult part is identifying the tools that aren’t immediately obvious. For example, there are lots of ways that playing video games can add to your toolkit. Perhaps it is a complicated team based game requiring lots of coordination. Playing well might mean that you have to know, interpret and apply the rules in a creative and advantageous way to put yourself in a winning position.
Take a look at ALL of your tools
People tend to speak to the tools that are most frequently used, thus at the top of their toolkit. Here we want to emphasize the importance of digging deep into your toolkit, so that you can speak to all of your tools, no matter how dusty they may be.