Working with one of my regular career coaching clients this week I had a revelation, not a blinding flash of light or anything dramatic, but a genuine realisation that one of the key things that is essential to being open to, attracting and considering all opportunities is a truly open mind.
An open mind unburdened by parental influences, that is not restricted by a culturally imposed vision of what a career means or what it might involve and also a mind open and able to let people know that you are looking for a new challenge and able to ask them about what they do and then crucially, actually listening to what they say.
The key conversation with my client went something like this; I suggested a possible occupation, one where I knew there were vacancies, that my client had the skills set and personality required and which fell within their commuting distance requirements. Their answers was 'Oh no I don't want to do that...(5 second delay)....what do they do exactly?' That in a nutshell is the closed mindedness that I am warning against. That could have been a job advert on line, a conversation or a recommendation that my client might have just wasted by not being open-minded and receptive to new ideas.
We all have stereo-types knocking around in our minds; environment, parents, experience and preference (however ill-informed) all create them but to truly give yourself every chance of finding a role that will satisfy, challenge and develop you, you will need to get rid of the 'office work is all paperwork / sales is all cold-calling and account management means the same thing in every company' approach because it will limit your chances and also in turn display a lack of the both the imagination and desire to find the right thing and can never do you no favours.
The conversation continued and we found out that actually my client had very little idea about very many different career paths and job titles infact they had a worryingly small amount of knowledge for someone that was not fresh out of school or college and might have had an excuse for not being very worldy wise about such things.
My advice is; find out more, find out detail and challenge yourself not to present a closed mind to any opportunity. Why? Well in my opinion on many occasions your career will find you rather than vice versa, in which case you need to let it find you rather than not even listening when fortune comes calling. Many of the successful people that I know in challenging, responsible and indeed well paid roles did not set out to be a ............ whatever but instead have taken time to understand what it is that they offer and then when the right opportunity arises and they asked the right questions and then saw that a match might be possible and grasped the opportunity.
Many skills and competencies do span across a whole range of occupations. Knowledge is clearly very important but training and additional qualifications (often in the role) can help you to overcome those barriers. Ask yourself which industries are struggling to recruit (and trust me despite the financial climate as a write this there are many industries with long vacancy lists that they cannot fill.) Research the businesses / sectors involved and really try to understand what it is they do. Ask people in the industry and seek out connections in your network who can advise, inform and illuminate the whole picture for you.
There is nothing wrong with having a dream job and being geared towards it from an early age within education but times change and the role that you always wanted to do might not even be what you think it is. So in short; have an open-mind, know what a job involves before you commit or reject it and use those around you to inform you and you will find that many more opportunhities arise and that the world looks a different place once the blinkers are removed.