Do homework on new career

Dear Joan:
I am in a technical position in a bank and although I have been promoted and rotated several times within the system, I really am not happy. The job is becoming very technical and complicated and I find that it just doesn't interest me.

I have a liberal arts degree in legal studies and a masters degree in communications. I am more of a people person and I think I should find a new career and a new company.

Do you have any idea where I should start? I used to work for a real estate securities firm and an insurance company in the real estate area. I liked interviewing the real estate managers and negotiating the leases.

I don't want to sell real estate because I don't think I have the right sales mentality for that but commercial real estate appraisal and being a leasing agent are possibilities. How do I make the right move so I stop jumping from job to job? I want the next move to be a good fit.

Before you jump ship and swim to the nearest job, decide to step back and take a hard look at who you are and what you want.

Commercial real estate appraisal and a job as a leasing agent would be good ways to make use of your background and they make a lot of sense for you. But you need to do more research to find out where the jobs are and what qualifications they have. You also need to expand your thinking about other jobs that might be right for you.

Zero in on one job, such as the leasing agent. On a sheet of paper, list all tasks a leasing agent might have to perform.

Next to each one, identify the skills that you think are necessary to perform each task. For example:

1.      Negotiate leases with tenants. Communication skills, tactful, diplomatic, assertiveness, firm and fair, good listener. When you have completed as much of the list as you can, go back and underline all the skills you believe you possess. Do this for each job you are considering. When you are finished, you will need to interview people who are in those jobs. The questions to ask are:

2.      How did you decide to enter this field?

3.      What are the required qualifications for different jobs within the field?

4.      How did you get to where you are today?

5.      What is an average day like? What percentage of time do you spend on different activities?

6.      What skills do you use the most?

7.      What kinds of people succeed in this field?

8.      What kinds of people fail?

9.      What is the best part about this field? The worst? The most disappointing?

10. What is the range of income in this field?

As you conduct these interviews, you will be able to add to the list of duties and skills that are required for each of the jobs you've identified. The people you meet may suggest other jobs to explore.

You have a two-part goal. First, you need to expand the list of possible career directions from which to choose. Build this list to at least 5 or 6 different career options. Investigate each one, using the method outlined above.

Second, you need to begin to narrow it down to two or three. As you probe for details about each job choice, match each one to your own skills. Eventually, you will begin to recognize which one or two are the best fit.

When you are ready to go after a particular position, use your newly acquired networking skills to identify and contact key people who are in a position to hire you. Explain that you have completed an extensive career assessment and you are ready to make a career move to their field. Ask them if they would be willing to meet you to critique your resume and react to your job-hunting marketing plan.

Treat each meeting with these employers just as though it was a real job interview. Ask them some of the same questions listed above but add these questions:

1.      Would you tell me about the job market in this area?

2.      What kinds of people do you hire?

3.      What are the red flags you see on my resume?

4.      What questions do you ask people in job interviews?

5.      What kinds of advancement opportunities are available in this field?

6.      What professional organizations do you suggest I join?

7.      What professional journals do you suggest I read?

8.      If you were conducting a job search, what steps would you take?

9.      Are their other professionals you would suggest that I contact?

10. If I were your son or daughter and I were interested in entering this field, what piece of advice would you give me?

You will discover what features you have to offer and what the market is for someone with your skills. Along the way, you will meet some terrific people and in the end you will save yourself years of wondering what job is right for you.

Joan Lloyd is a Milwaukee based executive coach and organizational & leadership development strategist. She is known for her ability to help leaders and their teams achieve measurable, lasting improvements. Joan Lloyd & Associates, specializes in leadership development, organizational change and teambuilding, providing: executive coaching, CEO coaching & leader team coaching, 360-degree feedback processes, retreat facilitation and presentation skill coaching and small group labs. Contact Joan Lloyd & Associates at (414) 573-1616,, or 
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