If the pandemic taught us anything, it’s the need to bring fresh thinking to work and life. We also learned that change can happen faster than ever. In the last year or so, parents learned to be teachers, restaurants became takeout shops and movie studios went straight to streaming. People learned that reinvention is a […]
If the pandemic taught us anything, it’s the need to bring fresh thinking to work and life. We also learned that change can happen faster than ever. In the last year or so, parents learned to be teachers, restaurants became takeout shops and movie studios went straight to streaming. People learned that reinvention is a way to keep solvent and sane.
If your career is serving up frustration with ineffective bosses, an organization with a less that inspiring mission or a position stuck in the doldrums, use your creative skills to chart a new course and find more fulfilling work.
Creativity is a top skill for jobs of the future according to the World Economic Forum. Hone those skills now as you plot the next phase of your career adventure. Here are some tips:
Design your archeological dig. One premise of creativity is to gather information that can help chart your course. Your first step is to ask friends and colleagues to name three words that describe you. This is a great question via text because it lends itself to brief, concise answers. Write the answers on sticky notes, group them together by theme, and then discard the ones that don’t resonate. Look for themes that can help you understand how you’re perceived, to get a feel for what you might bring to your next position. And while you’re at it, get ideas for that next role. Ask those trusted friends what else you’re good at. Such as “If Janine didn’t work in X, she would be great at Y.” You don’t need to become Y, but try it on and see how it fits.
Embrace your inner anthropologist. Conservationist and chimpanzee researcher Jane Goodall is considered a hero for passion, empathy and deep understanding of other creatures and their place in the world. Empathy is increasingly recognized as a necessary skill for developing ideas, and it’s one that can serve your job journey too. Take a page from Goodall’s playbook and research the cultures of your target companies by interviewing people who have worked there. Identify how these organizations measure success to better determine how you contribute to it.
Coach Loren Greiff, whose Portfolio Rocket coaching business serves creatives and marketers, encourages job seekers to have two brief coffee chats a day with people in target industries and roles.
“I tell people it’s like going to empathy school,” she said. Ten coffees a week can seem daunting, but the insights and advice will reveal a great deal of data that can help clarify your job search goals.
Build yourself a runway. Greiff also advises clients to think about the long game when designing a career change by building what she calls a runway to their next position.
“At some point you’ll need to take off,” Greiff said of her runway analogy. In the meantime, she recommends job seekers identify people doing work that interests them, and then identifying skills and training needed for target jobs.
Have a destination in mind, but be open about how you’ll get there. Think about planning a vacation. Remember vacations? If you want to ski the alps you’ll need different gear than a beach vacation in Malibu. Think about where you’d like to go, what “gear” you’ll need and how you’ll acquire that gear. But then don’t be too attached to getting there by bus or rocket ship.
In some cases a side hustle or volunteer work can develop skills. In other cases you’ll need training. Before you commit yourself to a graduate degree, look into free courses on Coursera or LinkedIn Learning, or identify thought leaders in your area and check out books from the library and follow them on YouTube. Or perhaps your skills will transfer elegantly to another industry that is more in keeping with your values. The more specific you can be about what you want in your next role, the better you’ll be able to chart your course.
Think small at first. Before you switch from accountant to zookeeper, keep in mind that total transformation is not always necessary to be happier at work. Sometimes a course correction will bring more career satisfaction, using the creativity precept of a reframe, which basically means looking at a challenge in a new way to develop fresh ideas.
Elicit Consulting owner Nalini Saxena created a career pivot that allowed her to embrace her values. She previously worked in commercial lending, then moved to entrepreneurial consulting when she learned that only 2.3% of women-owned businesses receive venture capital funding. Further, the representation of women among the investor community was slim despite the fact that the vast majority of purchasing decisions are made by women.
“I saw that women-owned business ideas were too often dismissed simply because the VCs did not relate to them,” she said. Saxena has since taken special interest through her business to facilitate the growth of women-owned and other “underestimated yet objectively promising” businesses and to encourage women to invest. She became an Activator at SheEO, a global venture fund community that supports women-owned ventures through zero-interest loans and mentoring. Embracing entrepreneurship and values-driven endeavors put her on a path to higher professional satisfaction using her already fine-tuned skills.
Whether you decide a small tweak will boost your career satisfaction, or a more transformational experience is for you, using skills in creativity is a great way to design your future.
Article written by: Orville Lynch, Jr.
Mr. Lynch, a member of the legendary two-time Ohio Civil Rights Hall of Fame Award winning Lynch Family.
Mr. Lynch is a nationally recognized urban media executive with over 20+ years of diversity recruitment and serial entrepreneur with numerous multi-million dollar exits.