To see if a potential new career is truly the right fit for you, you’ll need to conduct extensive research in the real world first. Career coach Nicholas Lore shares how to get the answers you need to make an informed decision. From his book, The Pathfinder: How to Choose or Change Your Career for a Lifetime of Satisfaction and Success.
Here are three tips to make sure that your career research gets to the goal line:
1. Do twenty times as much research as you feel like doing. I sometimes have clients come back from doing research as a homework assignment and discover that they have just scratched the surface. It is not enough to talk with one or two people or read a book or two. After all, you are deciding what to do with your life. The career you choose will be how you spend your days, year after year. I recommend speaking with an absolute minimum of ten people in each field of interest; the more the better. Read everything you can find on the subject.
2. Seek to discover new questions as well as answers. The more you learn, the more new and important questions you will uncover. As research progresses, your questions will improve. As the quality of your questions improves, so will the clarity and usefulness of the answers.
3. Think like a detective or a spy. You are not writing a college paper here. Pretend that you are a detective and that people’s lives depend on the focus, depth, and accuracy of your research. (The quality of at least one life does depend on it.) My personal research guru is James Garner’s character Jim Rockford in the ancient TV series The Rockford Files. Rockford can always come up with a creative way to get access to anyone and anything. He even carries a printing press in the trunk of his car to print up business cards to fit the need.
Most research is not very difficult. For example, identifying potential employers is a straightforward task once you have narrowed your search down to a specific job title and geographic area. A systems analyst looking for a job in Portland, Oregon, should have no difficulty in uncovering every company in town that might hire him or her. Once you identify the potential employers, you can employ a combination of library research, sleuthing, and networking to find the kinds of projects they work on, corporate personality and culture, and so on. It is much more difficult to find out what a potential career is really like. That’s why it is so important to think like a detective and do much more research than you may feel like doing.
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