The age-old questions, what do I want to do? What do I like? What can I do? Questions that have been asked from the time we are young and continue into adulthood. I remember being in school and being told I need to decide what I wanted to do so I can plan my education and pick the right schools. I also remember not having an idea of what I wanted to do and more directly not really worrying about it. Life works out right? Que sera sera. Like the t-shirt says, “Life Happens”.
When you are young maybe that works … for a while … actually, not really. That line of thinking applies to two types of people;
- Those who have a safety net, have the luxury of a backstop to help them when they fall, and,
- People who have given up and believe they have no say, they have no influence, life happens to them instead of being directed by them.
There are many things in this world that we cannot affect or change on an individual level but what we do with our life is not one of them. By “what we do” I mean the whole gambit, our choices, our careers, our paths. We do have a choice, each of us, it is only ours, so how do we make choices?
Let’s talk about careers, the choice of where we work, our careers and how we get there. The first thing to recognize is we all make choices daily that push us in one direction or another to one interest or another. When we are young it is simpler, our parents provide direction and exposure to different things. Maybe you were put in sports, maybe music, maybe the arts or dance. Maybe you worked for the household. When you get older those choices are yours so now you need to focus what you already know.
The kicker here is that this applies to everyone, including persons with a disability.
The first thing you need to do is a good self-assessment. This is the first and most important step in defining an occupation, planning your education and identifying a career path. You need to take stock of your interests, experiences and achievements and articulate them before starting a job search. Reflect on the activities that you have done over the years. What do you like doing? What interested you? What are you good at? Conversely, what did you not want to do?
Next, you need to establish your skill set. We all have two types of skills;
Hard skills are easily measured and usually consist of formal training and education. They include things like language, computer training, technical expertise. Hard skills can be upgraded throughout your career.
Soft skills are transferrable skills and can be learned in other activities throughout life. Skills that are obtained through school, extra-curricular activities and work experience. Skills that are applicable in other situations and can be adapted to the job at hand. They include your interpersonal and communications abilities that are honed over years of interactions. Soft skills constantly grow, with every experience we have we learn something, some good, some not, all of these experiences can be adapted to new situations and help in making our choices.
Thirdly, we take with us our values. Our core beliefs of right and wrong, acceptable or not acceptable and what our personal priorities are. There are countless values, health, finances, family, security to list a few. But you get the picture, ask yourself, do your choices reflect your values are they consistent to what is important to you. That includes your career choices.
As in all good self-assessments, you also have to identify where you need improvement and be honest with yourself.
Once you have established your strengths, you need to pick your path and focus your job seeking endeavours toward your choice. You have to plan and practice how you will articulate your interest, your strengths and your values to potential employers. Practice answering standard job interview questions so that you can effectively relate your hard and soft skills and demonstrate that this is your chosen path. Communication is usually the tough one. Under stress, words often fail. This is where practice is extremely beneficial, and feedback is even more important.
Now I do not want to leave you with the impression that career planning is a one-time process, it is continuous.
“Career planning is a life-long process of preparing to make not one but many choices. Making informed decisions setting short-term and long-term goals and taking steps to achieve those goals.” (www.careers.novascotia.ca)
Interests change and so can career plans but the goals you set will provide you with a road map for a successful career.
So, Que Sera Sera. The Urban Dictionary defines this as “It is what it is.” A Spanish phrase you say when you are stuck in a hopelessly unchangeable situation, but have come to accept, or even embrace the unchangeability of it all.”
PPRC can help. If you are a person with a disability who wants to work and who wants to change the unchangeable, call us, email us, find a career path.
As always, I am here to talk, join the conversation.