Just graduated and about to get into the seemingly arduous task of job searching? Looking to transition into a new industry or role? In my latest vlog (video blog) I share five tips that I used – and continue to use – to craft my career path:
Reverse-engineer your career goals:
Many of us use this concept without realising it. It’s basically envisioning where you would like to be in the future by way of career, identifying what you need to get there, and coming up with a strategy to gain the skills and knowledge that will set you on your way. Let’s say you plan to work with civil society across West Africa within the next two years. Your research will likely show that having French language skills is essential for such a career, giving you the opportunity to sign up for French language classes or prioritize opportunities which allow you to learn, develop and hone your basic skills in reading, writing and speaking French. Essentially, reverse-engineering is a powerful tool for planning your career path and being intentional and strategic about which jobs you apply and opt for.
Prioritize learning over money-making
A big part of crafting one’s career is being real about what your strengths and weaknesses are, and taking the necessary steps to improve both. Entry level professionals – or mid-level professionals looking to switch tracks – often face a catch 22: you’re expected to have experience in order to secure the job which will give you more experience. How do you navigate this? Consider volunteering for the industry or role you hope to occupy in the future. Student organizations are an excellent way to build experience. If you already have a part- or full-time job, consider volunteering with an organization, company or cause focused on the sector you’d like to enter. What you miss out on in terms of currency, you gain big time on the experience front – that said, put a deadline on your period of “exploration; sadly the bills don’t pay themselves. Finally, make time to learn and self-teach. There are tons of resources online for practically everything under the sun. All it takes is willpower and a good internet connection.
Get to know yourself
This might seem obvious, but it’s important to get to know and understand yourself. Paying attention to what excites (or frustrates) you and what sets you apart. Take note of the compliments or criticisms you receive as you navigate the professional world. Track what job descriptions immediately jump out at you. Paying attention gives you invaluable insight into what your natural inclinations or unique characteristics are and how you can leverage that to craft the career you want.
Found this useful? Watch my vlog for the two final tips as well as personal insights on all five. Know someone who could use this? Please do share and subscribe to my YouTube channel for updates on new videos!
Jemila Abdulai is the creative director, editor and founder of the award-winning website Circumspecte.com. A media and international development professional and economist by training, she combines her business, communications and project management expertise with her strong passion for Africa. Besides writing and reading, she enjoys travel, global cuisine, movies, and good design.