Through these blogs, I attempt to be as responsive as possible to the queries and concerns of many of the young professionals who reach out to me for career and academic advice on a daily basis.
It has been an absolutely amazing experience peering into the lives and circumstances of young professionals and graduates from all across the globe – although I am often brought to the verge of tears through my own familiarity with some of the more intricate accounts.
Today, we must celebrate with those who continue to make tremendous strides in their personal lives and careers – many having overcome great perils on their journeys to eventual personal and professional fulfilment. Their valiant efforts have been duly rewarded, and many of them have been making immense professional and civic contributions all across the globe.
There is however an enormous amount of work to be done in helping those young professionals whose careers have not gone quite according to plan, and are struggling to find their way amidst the uncertainty of it all.
I have literally lost count of the number of inquiries that I receive from persons who are yet to access jobs within the industries that they were formally trained for – many of whom remain unemployed or grossly underemployed today.
Let us be honest with ourselves here: It is very difficult to pursue a degree or graduate program that initially sold you the idea of a beautiful post-graduation life, only to be slapped with the harsh realities of a competitive job market at the end of it all… worse yet, if your studies were paid for out of your own pockets.
Don’t be Afraid to Try New Things
One of the things that I occasionally say to persons who find themselves in this dilemma, is to consider trying new things. It often depends on whether or not the individual possesses a range of well-developed, useful and transferable skills, that can truly add value within a particular niche.
I hold firmly to the view, that if an individual possesses a talent or skill that can genuinely add value or improve the quality of life for others, then it is certainly worth considering.
Just imagine the amount of progress that you can make exploring new professional opportunities around your range of skills and competencies, in the time that you may otherwise spend scouring the internet for jobs and internships, within a particular industry that has offered you little to nothing since graduating two years ago.
There is doubt that this time could be better utilized building your network in a new industry, securing new opportunities outside your area of formal training, and earning a decent income while doing something that you absolutely enjoy.
The idea here is not to abandon your area of formal training, but to be aware of which of your specific talents and skills are in greatest demand within the current job market. You may just find, that while your area of formal training may not be an immediate industry need, that you may have developed certain unique skills along the way, that employers in industries completely unrelated to that of your formal training, are clamoring for.
Be Aware of the Signs and Signals in Your Life and Career
It is absolutely imperative that we be sensitive to the direction in which our lives and careers are taking us, as our failure to do so can potentially land us in very difficult waters.
If a particular career path has thus far proven to be unrewarding – after three or more years – and you are desperately struggling to make ends meet, then chances are you may have missed a few important signs and signals indicating the need for necessary detours along the way.
If you can identify with this scenario, then I have great news for you: Your best and brightest days are ahead you! It may however require that you take some time to explore your range of skills and competencies, and identify which of those offer you the greatest chances of landing that long-awaited professional opportunity.
Importantly as well, is the need to fully realize your professional inclination: Does your personality, career goals, and professional interests make you an ideal candidate for the traditional 9:00 to 5:00 job? Or are you more inclined to entrepreneurship – leading the development of your own enterprise?
The fact however remains, that until you are willing to acknowledge that your current career path has not been working for you, you will never be able to freely explore the world of opportunities that your range of skills and competencies can grant you access to.
Improving Your Personal Brand While Exploring New Professional Opportunities
Your personal brand is essentially that image or impression that has been created in the minds of others, about you – who you are, what you are about, what you offer, and what you stand for. One can therefore understand why personal branding is such a big deal in today’s job market.
In the context of exploring new professional opportunities across multiple industries, personal branding becomes even more complex, as you are attempting to create a perception of stability and focus, amidst what is more easily perceived as a reality of chaos.
Now while your personal brand will obviously be impacted by your decision to seriously explore new professional opportunities, maintaining that perception of stability and focus will require:
Clarity on the direction in which God is leading you;
A keen awareness and understanding of the signs and signals in your life and career;
The acknowledgement that your current career path has failed to meet your expectations; and
Your firm commitment to exploring new professional opportunities, based on your individual skills and competencies.
Through this journey, your personal brand stands a very good chance of being enhanced, as the resourceful professional – possessing a range of complementary skills and competencies – is in high demand in the modern workplace.
So if you are currently at that point where it is clear that your chosen career path has not been working for you, then by all means… open your mind to a whole new world of opportunities, just waiting to be unlocked by your gifts and talents.