Testing Your Ideas

If you are wanting to change roles or thinking about new ideas that might be right for you, the question is often about how to decide which one is right for you.

I’ve been ready to change many times. When I was in my late 20s, I was bored and desperately wanted to change what I did. I hated the work I did, but I needed the money. I had been on the cusp of redundancy several times or I had gone through the misery of constructive dismissal where the firm wanted me out without paying any redundancy money several times. So, I desperately wanted some security.

One of the best pieces of advice I received was to talk to people who are already doing the types of roles that I was thinking of moving into. I was advised to go and chat to them about why they did their job, what they enjoyed about it, whether it was what they’d imagined from the role, plus whether there were any unexpected surprises or shocks. When I first heard this, I was skeptical. Would anyone actually want to talk to me about all this?

But in the end, I was convinced to give it a go. I made a list of my top three jobs, and three possible organisations that I could try. You might know of people doing the roles that you are interested in which makes it slightly easier. Today, surfing the web has made finding possible contacts within an organisation so much easier. However, in my case I knew no one doing the roles I was interested in. I simply picked up the phone and rang each of the different organisations I had found, explained what I wanted and asked if there was anyone that was prepared to spare me a couple of hours. To my astonishment, all three of them had someone who was willing to spend some talking to me about what they did.  

Much to my amazement my nervousness and hesitancy disappeared as I realised I was meeting nice people who, as they listened to my ‘leaving’ and ‘joining’ stories, were genuinely interested in someone who really wanted to change direction in her life. They all thought that what I was doing was a fantastic idea. Incidentally, they were all people who asked questions as part of their working day. But even without that I think people are genuinely interested in helping where they can see someone’s genuine passion and interest in changing her life.

The key learning point is that I didn’t go looking for a job. I went to see if I would like different job ideas. But, at the end of two of the conversations I was offered a job. At the third it was suggested that I should apply as I was a good fit with the type of people they were looking for. I took their advice and did apply. During the interview for that job, I was complimented on the extensive research into the role I had done as to whether I would be a good fit. And yes, I was offered that job too.

This non-threatening atmosphere where you haven’t mentioned wanting a job benefits both parties. People want to work with people they like, trust and that fit into their organisation. From a prospective employer’s point of view, this type of conversation allows them to assess your personality and abilities and whether you’d fit in without any commitment or those hard “I’m sorry, but” type conversations. For your part you can decide whether you like the role without committing yourself to anything. It’s a win-win for everyone.

And then as I found out, sometimes unforeseen opportunities pop up unexpectedly. I set out to find out if I would like that role and if it fitted with my top six values but ended up with three job offers.

So, remember, you are not ‘looking for a job’ but rather just talking to people in similar roles you feel interested in to see if they might be right for you. This can actually be the best way to find that perfect role.

- Rosemary Johnson

Rosemary is the founder of My Future Career Academy and passionate about assisting people to successfully navigate the future of work, particularly women. She balances navigating a portfolio career, which includes a commitment to lifelong learning, coaching and mentoring with her artistic side.