Does Your Work Experience Already Qualify You for a Different Career Path? Probably.

When you were six, what did you want to be when you grew up? A doctor? An astronaut? A unicorn astronaut doctor?

Sometimes our goals are a bit outrageous as kids, but the subconscious inspiration is real and something that may help you in your job search.

While most people don't end up pursuing their childhood dreams, the passions you had back then can help you understand why you followed a certain career path. When looking back at those old inspirations and experiences, it's called “mining” your experience.

Use mining as a tool during your job search to look at all of the different dreams, skills, and jobs you have had and then step back and see the bigger picture.

When you inspect your full career story from different angles, you can find new paths forward. Laying out all of your past into an experience map, you might realize you qualify for jobs you haven't ever considered.

When considering these new opportunities, pretend that your map is a paint by number where you totally ignore the rules and use the wrong colors on purpose. Dream big and think differently.

Experience Map Exercises

For your first exercise, think about how you answered that first question in this article. What did you want to be when you were younger? Write that job down, no matter how ridiculous it might be.

How do you see the same skills and passions from your dream job show up in your day job? Find ways that your early inspiration influenced your career. Then think of what you would tell your six-year-old self about how that first dream evolved into where you are today.

Next, get an outside perspective. Share your experience map with a close friend or colleague. Ask them what trends they observe at a surface-level.

While it seems like a simple question, the answer is often transformational. This conversation may uncover things that surprise or shock you, but that's a good sign! You may have a default script you stick to when someone asks about what you do professionally. It's good to get out of that comfort zone and see new perspectives.

Your final step? Take a look at your timeline and try telling a story with a different ending. For example, tell a story about how your experiences could have led you on a totally different career path.

By putting these pieces together and really looking at the different options outside of your current job, you can pick a better future career path and ensure success in your job search. Remember, there is always more to mine and discover.

Reflecting on Your Work Experiences

This process of mining and examination is the slowest and hardest part of the job search process. It's challenging to slow down and reflect when you want to move on to finding a job. Hang in there. It's very hard at first, but the more time you spend, the more flexible you become in your job search. You will see the benefits.

Don't rush this process. Your discoveries will come from going slow, stepping away, and giving it time. Deep introspection is really rewarding if you give it the space to be. It will allow you to see job options that you have never imagined pursuing and will point out the strengths that can get you there.

When you look at your experience map, think of each role as pieces of a mosaic. While you have already assembled your career one way, you can use those same skills and roles to discover a totally different career path that you want to pursue.

Read on for more ways to make your job search a success: Build Your Work Experience Map

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