The ‘Location location location’ equivalent of the career development space

Lucy Standing from Brave Starts discusses how her organisation can help you take a realistic view of where to go next if you want to change your career.

Fish changing its bowl


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There are an infinitesimally small number of jobs that offer a lifetime of guaranteed job security, and even if that criteria can be provided, most people at some point feel the need to explore their options and see what’s out there.

In an age where people want results instantly, pretty much every psychometric company worth its salt is trying it’s best to create a questionnaire which will tell you your ideal job. People want quick answers, but the reality is anything but.

As a psychologist who is an expert in mid life career development and who has set up a non-profit to support and help people consider their next steps, let me share something about the reality:

 It takes longer than you think. Most people figure they’ll have worked out what to do next and they’ll be established in something else within a year. That’s very unlikely. Most people we work with have no idea what to do next and the process of exploring that takes time. We manage expectations on our cohorts that this is a 1-2 year process and that’s just to get to a point of greater clarity. That doesn’t include the time needed to get retrained or established in a new field.

 For the very small number of people we work with who DO have a good idea of what to do next, the dream often doesn’t live up to reality. We have arranged job shadowing opportunities for a large number of our cohorts and sectors it’s a fairly even split: people are just as likely to be turned off their ‘dream job’ as they are to be turned on.

 75% of the time, people end up not changing jobs. When we take them though a process of exploring their career and working out their next step, 33% realise they are better off in the job they’re already in and 42% meet their career development needs by doing things like going part time or working flexibly because their need can’t be met by the job market. Let’s give an example: in our survey (more than 6,000 respondents so far) people want more opportunity to indulge their interests in the ‘creative and artistic’ sectors. Very rarely are their talents better than the those currently in a highly competitive marketplace and even if they are, the likelihood of selling their skill at a consistent, acceptable and sustainable level makes this a non-starter. In other words, we see people going part time or working flexibly so they can: work on that book they’ve always wanted to write; take that course they’ve always wanted to take or focus on their side hustle they are building up.

If you want to go through the process of exploring options, we’ve prepared an e-book guide to take you through the key steps. As you’ll see if you open and read this guide, we liken the process to being the ‘Location location location’ equivalent of the career development space. It’s only when you’ve seen all the options within your budget and desired location that the 80s semi you originally dismissed for lacking in original features now looks like a compromise you are ready to make. The same is largely true of work and it’s only in understanding your options can you really be truly happy with whatever decision you arrive at in the end.

I wish it was sexier, I wish it was easier and straightforward, but it isn’t. We have honed down and simplified the steps most people find useful. It’s a 12-page guide so allow yourself the space and time to go through each of the steps.

*Lucy Standing is co-founder of Brave Starts. A psychologist and Vice Chair of the Association for Business Psychology, she was previously Global Head of Recruitment in the Investment Bank and Strategy Consulting sectors across JP Morgan and LEK consulting. Brave Starts is a result of people passionately joining together to try and help companies supporting their employees to work and age better. National Older Workers Week sponsor Phoenix Group is offering those who took part in our survey 2022 and requested it free career assistance via Brave Starts.

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