I hear this a lot: “My career is all over the place so how do I find my next step?” I’ve got some reassurance for you, and some ideas.
[You can listen to or read this post (about 5 minutes)]
The good news: Everyone has a messy career path. Life is messy, at best. You’re not alone.
The bad news: It’s still confusing in there and you’re still needing to find your way in a dark confusing maze.
More good news: You can get help to find your way through the maze. There are people with lanterns and maps to turn to. And people who can see the big picture from above the maze. Really.
Is it really a messy maze or is it a beautiful image when seen from above? I see the beauty.
So then what?
My So-Called Messy Career Path and the Lessons
In my own experience, I thought I was “all over the place” too. I didn’t want anyone to see that wacky résumé. On some level, with each turn, it did mostly make sense to me, because I was following what was in front of me. But I thought that picture of “meandering” would look funny to others.
In reality, employers never seemed to care about all those so-called turns on my résumé. At least none of them mentioned it as why I didn’t get a job I wanted. I wonder why:
Maybe I crafted a convincing résumé? (Yes, it was pretty good, and that does help.)
Maybe it wasn’t as big of a “mess” as I thought? (Most likely true for me, and for you.)
Maybe I didn’t really go for something very bold or exciting. (Yep, guilty.)
Also, a résumé doesn’t matter as much when you get to know people first through networking which I sometimes managed to do. (Networking is usually worth the time.)
For sure I have privilege as a white person who fits a certain comfort level for mainstream white employers, so the path was paved more for me than some others. Sad but true. (I really want to change this.)
I couldn’t see the thread connecting the dots on my career journey, but I see now that it was there.
Maybe it was the exact path I needed to end up helping people with career clarity, since I’ve dabbled in many areas. It wasn’t simple, and it was confusing at times for sure, but the path had a purpose, it turned out.
When I finally landed in my current work as a coach, it hit me, “It all makes sense now. I’m putting all that experience to good use now.” I’ve watched my clients have that same realization when it all clicks into place.
When I saw a chart like this, I realized I wasn’t alone and had a good laugh. Now I’ve made my own version of it:
What Can Help You Connect the Dots?
I explained why it’s been hard for most people to figure out your right career path, and I provided some guidance on how to connect the dots, in this post:
Myths and Truths About How To Find Your Right Career Path
In the meantime, I’m sending you much empathy for being in that dark maze. You don’t have to go it alone.