The number of interviews I have been taking has in-creased four-fold this year versus the previous year. The significant demand pick-up has fueled this in-crease, and the increasing need to get increasingly selective about the talent we hire to help make a substantial impact. I have interviewed candidates who completed their Masters in Computer Applications or did a Bachelor in Technology and eventually got into an HR role, which they continued further. Some others specialized in HR in their education years, but moved into Marketing roles. It is rare to find someone who has clarity early on in their life about what they would like to do. This is more often discovered over a period, with some even experimenting various roles till they eventually settle, and some others more being more conservative to stay with their area of specialization. The problem with this approach is the number of years lost before arriving at a compromise or finding the place one loves.
Most people reach others for their opinions or suggestions, be it their parents, siblings or in many cases, their friends. It is common for people to focus primarily on position & money and benchmark their progress versus their friends to determine how they are positioned versus others. While there is nothing wrong with this approach, it may not work for people going after finding true satisfaction and joy at the workplace. People generally spend at least over one-third of their lifetime at work. Finding happiness and fulfillment at work is paramount to keep at it year after year.
What is the best way to make a career decision that connects one with a sense of purpose? The key to this is introspection. Use these five tips to help you decide:
1. Journal: Keeping a journal is an excellent way of penning down your thoughts. Using this journal to keep noting your ideas, something interesting you read, lessons you learnt, career advice you received from mentors, and your aspirations & dreams is a great way to grow or make career choices. And this is not some online journal; rather, it would be good to keep a small diary handy.
"Working in very crowded industries or mature technologies means that you will be one amongst millions, with limited growth potential for the long term"
2. Connecting to What Matters Most to You: Several people struggle to decide between conflicting priorities. For example, you get a job from a known, large company and another offer from a small startup. Which one would you choose if they both have similar pay scales? This question is best answered when you connect to your why. As an example, if you love a highly structured set-up with a defined set of responsibilities, you may choose the large company, but if you thrive in doing multiple high energy roles and multi-tasking, startup culture is what you will find exciting. The question to ask yourself is what matters to you, and honestly, respond to yourself.
3. The Future of the Industry, Role or Technology you are Considering: Time is precious, and since you will be investing your significant years learning and trying to make a difference, your efforts must be invested in industries or technologies of the future. Working in very crowded industries or mature technologies means that you will be one amongst millions, with limited growth potential for the long term. Doing adequate research to evaluate the industry's relevance, role or technology for the foreseeable future will be critical to begin your journey on the right path.
4. Choosing the Company to Work For: Researching about the company where you apply for a job before even putting in the application will be worth the investment of time. It is critical to check what opportunities for learning and growth the company provides ' after all, time is limited and working in jobs that don't offer a chance to fill the gaps in your skill and expertise will not add value. If you have worked for large companies before, you may want to try joining a startup or a smaller company to get more hands-on, extensive exposure to multiple work aspects, and this is perhaps what your career may need.
5. Continuous Self Assessment: Self-awareness is the first step of self-assessment. It is essential to listen to one's inner voice, become more conscious of one's strengths & weaknesses, and find ways to manage them. In addition to understanding your personality, introspecting on your values and interests would be critical. Choosing careers that provide a fitment with your personality traits would get one closer to the path of a happy and productive career. For example, if you are not detail-oriented, choosing a career path in finance or law may not be the best. Likewise, if you are not comfortable interacting continuously with people, a customer-facing role may not be the best fit. Of course, personality traits change with time; hence it could be helpful to do a periodical self-assessment to make course corrections.
Building enduring happiness in one's career requires deliberate efforts. Getting beyond prominent pay and position elements to focus on fulfillment is imperative to create a long-term happiness quotient. Money, fame, and position are lasting by-products of this happiness quotient which will automatically come in based on the outcomes one delivers.