For some people, choosing a career is simple. They have a path they want to pursue and they go for it. What’s more challenging is when someone is unhappy in their career, but completely unsure of what to do next. That place of uncertainty is Career Coach Maggie Mistal’ssweet spot. Not only does she counsel clients on how to find the perfect fit, but 17 years ago she pivoted from management consulting to a coaching so she understands the process.
Mistal has developed a nine-point system to help her clients target the ideal career for them. Clients examine a variety of factors including ideal salary, skills they most enjoy using, what motivates them, their unique mission or purpose, and details like size of a company and location of an employer. “These aspects become like puzzle pieces they can put them together in lots of different ways. That’s where the creativity comes in with brainstorming new career possibilities or taking a new twist on a traditional career. When people look at their career this way everything changes.”
Mistal explains that the nine questions below are just the first step. After honing in on what’s important to you and your unique strengths, you can start to narrow down different careers that might work. The next step is research, gathering information, and getting as much exposure to the career you think is the right fit. “You can’t just jump into a field and just try it out, that’s trial and error. The research is crucial to knowing where you want to invest your time and life,” say Mistal. Afterwards, clients are ready to job search. “What all this does is it sets you up with the confidence to know if a career will work for you. When people align how they make a living with who they are that’s when they find amazing success.”
Below, are Mistal’s nine questions to ask yourself to will help guide you towards your perfect career:
1. What interests you? Start by thinking about what you love to do or what’s fascinating to you. When you have free time, how do you like to spend it? What are you researching, reading about, focused on? “Don’t think about what kind of job it is, what kind of salary you would make, or what you skills you need at this point. That’s what can keep people where they have been, or where they think they should be,” explains Mistal. Instead, focus purely on what you love to do as a starting point, it is just one element in finding your dream job.
2. What are your unique gifts and talents? Mistal advises that her clients answer two simple questions in order to hone in on their innate skills. “What do people thank you for? What do people come to you for?” Often, these are qualities people don’t think of as special skills, but can potentially lead to a career that is a natural fit. For example, are you an incredible cook? Party planner? Finance whiz? Counselor or problem solver? If you are already a resource for people, that skill set should be valued.
3. What skills do you want to utilize? “You have a resume of things you have done. However, what if you were to make a resume of just the skills and abilities you want to be doing?” asks Mistal. “What are the actions you want to be taking on a regular basis? How do you want to spend your day that is meaningful and rewarding to you? Elevating the idea of a job to something beyond a paycheck is important. If every day matters, what do you want to be doing?”
4. What industries are interesting to you? Mistal advises focusing on industries that you naturally gravitate towards. “From a young age, we all have different industries that are interesting to us,” she explains. Think broader than a specific job, instead focus on fields that are intriguing to you. Doing some research will help to. them. Talk to people in those industries and learn what the entry points are, what the growth areas are, and where the industry is headed.
5. What values would you like to express through your work? “The litmus test for job satisfaction is what you would do no matter how much you were being paid.” says Mistal. “For everyone it is different. Some people want that excitement of having every day be different. Others want to be creative in their work. For other people it could be about giving back.” Mistal believes that while money is a motivator for a period of time, having some other factor that inspires you to get out of bed in the morning is essential to job happiness.
6. Who are you? Finding work that matches your personality type is a crucial factor in finding the right job fit. Whether you are confident, outgoing, happy, friendly, an introvert, or serious, you want a job where those qualities will mesh. “If you are in a job that doesn’t match your personality, you ultimately aren’t going to be happy or successful.”
7. What type of work environment are you looking for? Do you want to work alone or in a small team? What kind of location are you looking for? What do you want out of a commute? Are you happiest in a large or small company? What kind of people or management style do you work best with? “Think about what type of culture you work best in and map out what’s most important,” says Mistal.
8. What is your mission? Thinking about what your overall purpose is can be a very motivating and powerful way to think about your work according to Mistal. “This is the higher minded soul searching that I have my clients do. Examine what you are compelled to do in life. Or think of it another way. If people were eulogizing you, what would you want to stand out about your life?”
9. What is your ideal salary? What number would make you feel valued, appreciated and as if you’ve achieved your worth? That’s your ideal salary. Mistal also has clients focus on what their transition salary would need to be. Mapping out your core expenses and what you need to make or what you can cut back on is an essential part of the process. Some career changes can involve taking a step back financially so understanding what the lowest you can go in terms of income (for a short period of time during your transition) is key information.
At the end of this exercise, you should start to see trends and patterns. Either working with a coach or on your own, think of careers that match the factors you want in a job. Knowing what you really want from your work is the first step in matching you with the ideal job.