Having completed a skills audit, this may give you some ideas on possible jobs you could do. If not, just pick three jobs you quite like the sound of. But that’s not realistic, many people say. You cannot just decide you want to get a job in any sector. Well, that’s partly true. I have always thought of making a career choice like stepping into a long, cold, dark, corridor with many, many doors leading off it. Each door has a sign on it saying: ‘Doctor’, ‘Lawyer’, ‘Broker’, or whatever. There are literally thousands of doors, stretching into the far distance and you can only just make out the nearest signs in the gloom.
Now, depending on whether you went to University, or left school at A Levels, or GCSE’s, then it’s true that many of those doors are firmly locked. Depending on what degree you did, or what you studied, or how old you are, more doors will be locked or unlocked. But in any event, most of us don’t really take the time to walk up and down that corridor and check out all the doors even to read the labels. And even if we do, for many doors, we just assume they are locked when perhaps, if only we tried the handle, we might find that we can easily step inside. The corridor is a scary place to be and so most of us, having had a brief dash through the gloom, rattle the handle of two or three doors more or less at random, and step through the first door we find unlocked just to get out of the corridor.
We now find ourselves in another, room. Sometimes, it’s a sunny, comfortable one, full of nice friendly people, and we might stay there our whole careers. Quite often, it is small and uncomfortable, full of people we don’t like, with nothing to entertain us or help pass the time. Or it starts off nice and sunny, but over time the heating breaks down, the lights stop working, the nice people leave only to be replaced by ones we don’t like and it gradually worsens. But we hang on in there as that corridor is too scary and dark. We somehow know that this time, many more doors will be locked and barred to us. The act of choosing our first career step has effectively sealed off many other avenues. So we would rather just stay where we are than risk going back into the corridor and getting stuck out there.
But there are literally thousands of doors leading of this corridor, and we have so far only tested five or six at most. The point about the seven point job plan is to shine a light on those doors, to see what the labels say and to test if they really are locked or not. Better still, to open the door a little and check out the room inside rather than just dashing in without looking.
So that is why you should pick three sectors or jobs. And, if necessary, another three and another three after that. So long as you have a plan, the corridor is not as scary as all that, and it really is worth taking the time systematically to choose your next door.
In my case, the skills audit didn’t really help me decide what I should do. But, following John’s advice, I picked three areas to research. When I was in the Diplomatic Service, I had come across a Political Lobbying firm call Bell Pottinger, which had been retained by the Government of Yugoslavia to try to manage their international image, and I thought this sounded like potentially interesting work. I had previously worked in a Bank as a Corporate Credit Manager, so I thought I might possibly get a job in the City, possibly as a broker, or as an analyst. I wasn’t really sure, but I added the City to the list. And, finally, a brother-in-law of an old friend of mine was a senior Partner at a Global Executive Search firm, and he thought I might make a good headhunter. Since he himself was an interesting and charismatic figure and someone whom I admired, I thought I should heed his advice and check out headhunting. So that’s how I came up with my three sectors – there wasn’t a great deal of thought behind it – and in retrospect, I probably should have researched more sectors, when the first two proved dead ends. But the point was simply to pick three jobs, any jobs…
Now go to Step 3 – Research, Research, Research.