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Monday, 19 September 2016 20:40

Career Change Dilemma Featured

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A colleague, whom I had not seen for many years, was speaking about the difficulty of changing careers when a fair degree of progress had already been made in one area.  This is not an uncommon dilemma.

In his particular case, he wanted to change from one industry area to another and was experiencing great difficulty in gaining the confidence of the senior executives who interviewed him during the selection process. 

What he was keen to do was show prospective employers that he had the potential to perform as well in this new area as he had been performing in his previous role.  As he said "Everyone nodded their heads, but nobody offered me a job."

He said that his problem was shared by many friends who had found that the career that they thought would be for life had lost its appeal or challenge and left them wanting to do something new.  As well as wanting to convince an employer in a new industry of their merit, many of these executives did not know what else they were suited to.

It would be easy to say that going to your local career counsellor would give you a quick and painless solution.  Unfortunately, this aspect of life is no more simple than any other.  The assessment itself should be relatively painless if it is conducted by any qualified Organisational Psychologist with a business background, but the challenge that will be set in making the decision to change will be fearsome.

Strong words you will no doubt think.  However, movement out of familiar territory is always more intimidating than thinking about it.  The important thing about the decision to get professional direction in relation to career counselling is the clear signal to yourself that you have decided to get serious.  Having made this decision, there is a lot of pressure on you to live up to your dreams by making the necessary effort. 

Almost inevitably, the psychological assessment accompanying your career counselling session will raise challenging thoughts for you about perceptions you had about some aspect of your ability, employment interest or aptitude, personality or general career history. 

Dealing with these challenges is the key part of the process of deciding that it is time to get serious about a career change.  Meeting this challenge begins during the counselling process where it is very important to convince yourself of the value of some very simple principles.

Firstly, you have chosen to be there and you are the customer.  For that reason, you are in charge of the situation and should be responsible for understanding what is going on and ensuring that you are satisfied with the result.

Secondly,  the psychologist is there to help you and should be perceived and treated as a specialist resource that needs clear input from you on your needs.  It is vital to be open at all times in the process to get full benefit from the exercise you have initiated.

Thirdly,  you must realise that many tests are completely subjective.  The answers you give make up the result you get.  If you "fudge" the answers, you are only wasting an opportunity to use a system designed to help you.

Finally, psychology is a very inexact science at the best of times, but in psychological testing it is at its least exact in some areas of personality and vocational testing.  You must use reality testing in conjunction with the psychologist to get the real benefit from the information you are given, but this does not mean that you should reject unpalatable information because it is not either black or white.  What it means is that the information is a beginning for you in the career planning process.

So if you are in a dilemma with respect to career decision making, do seek professional assistance, but make sure you do not abdicate your personal responsibility.  Remember, the interior decorator has no ownership of your house just because you let them help you choose the direction you take.  The organisational psychologist who advises you on your career options is no different.

Author Dr Karel deLaat http://www.kareldelaat.com/

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