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Career Growth

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Career Growth
We Analyzed 114,000 Resume Examples and Job Offers but Couldn't Find the Skills Gap

It started with a quick survey of 80 customers. We wanted to understand the biggest challenges they faced when looking for a new job. The greatest difficulty they told us about, one faced by more than 1 in 4 respondents, was matching their skills to what companies are looking for. In a way, this wasn’t surprising. Articles lamenting the ever-growing skills gap are a dime a dozen. Employers cry from the rooftops that they can’t find the skilled workers they need while educators and policymakers scramble to figure out what to do about it. We had the two components: job applicants complaining about how difficult it was to match the skills employers are asking for and employers complaining about not finding the right skilled applicants. This called for an investigation. Where We Found ~114,000 Resume Examples and Job Offers Our search began at Indeed.com, the biggest job search site in the US, to see just how big this gap was. We crawled job offers and resumes for the 102 most common jobs in the US according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. The script looked for the top 10 most commonly mentioned skills in both resumes and job descriptions and then compared how often they were mentioned in the resume examples and job offers. Considering all the talk of a skills gap alongside the historically low unemployment rate, we expected to see a major difference between the skills applicants had and what employers wanted. That’s not what we found. We Found a Skill Gap, but It’s Just -0.5% Some resumes had more skills than employers wanted, some job offers asked for skills resumes didn’t have. But if you average them out, the result is pretty close to 0. Does that mean there’s no skills gap? No, it just means there are many small gaps spread throughout various jobs and industries. More on that later. But let’s understand what this percentage actually means. Take Accountants as an example. Looking at 624 accountant resumes we found the 4th most common skill listed was tax preparation. We then looked at 621 job offers for accountants to see how often they asked for tax preparation. This was the result: !function(e,t,s,i){var n="InfogramEmbeds",o=e.getElementsByTagName("script")[0],d=/^http:/.test(e.location)?"http:":"https:";if(/^\/{2}/.test(i)&&(i=d+i),window[n]&&window[n].initialized)window[n].process&&window[n].process();else if(!e.getElementById(s)){var r=e.createElement("script");r.async=1,r.id=s,r.src=i,o.parentNode.insertBefore(r,o)}}(document,0,"infogram-async","https://e.infogram.com/js/dist/embed-loader-min.js"); So 33.28% more resumes offered the skill of tax preparation than employers asked for it. If more employers want the skill than resumes offered it, the percentage will be negative. So positive numbers indicate “overqualified applicants”* while negative numbers indicate under-qualified candidates. *note: we’re using “overqualified” as shorthand. Some of these applicants may be overqualified while others might have the wrong kind of skills. If you’re curious about details I recommend looking at the complete data for individual jobs. !function(e,t,s,i){var n="InfogramEmbeds",o=e.getElementsByTagName("script")[0],d=/^http:/.test(e.location)?"http:":"https:";if(/^\/{2}/.test(i)&&(i=d+i),window[n]&&window[n].initialized)window[n].process&&window[n].process();else if(!e.getElementById(s)){var r=e.createElement("script");r.async=1,r.id=s,r.src=i,o.parentNode.insertBefore(r,o)}}(document,0,"infogram-async","https://e.infogram.com/js/dist/embed-loader-min.js"); While looking at the distribution of over and under-qualified jobs, the next question is which jobs are on one extreme or the other? We examined this by looking at four industries: tech, healthcare, architects and engineers, and “low skilled workers”. There’s No Single Skills Gap for Tech Workers 19 of the 102 most common jobs in the US are tech jobs. If we look at how their skills compare to what employers want, where do these tech jobs end up? !function(e,t,s,i){var n="InfogramEmbeds",o=e.getElementsByTagName("script")[0],d=/^http:/.test(e.location)?"http:":"https:";if(/^\/{2}/.test(i)&&(i=d+i),window[n]&&window[n].initialized)window[n].process&&window[n].process();else if(!e.getElementById(s)){var r=e.createElement("script");r.async=1,r.id=s,r.src=i,o.parentNode.insertBefore(r,o)}}(document,0,"infogram-async","https://e.infogram.com/js/dist/embed-loader-min.js"); Remember, the bars that go below the central line show when resumes tended not to have the skills employers want while bars above the line show where resumes had more skills than the employer want. The blue bars reflect the months of experience in resumes and in job offers. If you were expecting most tech workers to be under-qualified because of the tech skills gap we’ve all heard so much about, you’re probably quite surprised. In fact, the two most overqualified and under-qualified positions are tech workers. On one extreme, there are jobs with skills far below what most companies are asking for. One example is blockchain developers with a -20.5% gap (we know how hard it is to hire blockchain developers). Another is junior software developers with a startling -30.2% gap (it would seem companies and applicants define “junior” differently). With both of these professions, the average applicant has far fewer skills than employers want. On the other extreme, Java and .Net developers offer more skills than required by 33.6% and 33.9% respectively. So a typical Java developer resume has more than a third more skills than required for a Java developer position. Somehow there’s a more than 60% difference between the most over and under-qualified tech jobs. Blockchain developers don’t have anywhere near as many skills as employers want while Java developers have plenty of skills employers aren’t interested in. These two jobs aren’t just both within tech, they’re both software developers. The bigger picture is that while in our minds tech jobs are in demand and there aren’t enough skilled workers to fill them, that doesn’t hold true for all tech jobs. But what about another industry famously facing similar hiring difficulties to tech? The Healthcare Industry Skills Gap Is Similar to Tech A major US Chamber of Commerce study found the greatest employment gap to be among healthcare workers, with 1.44 jobs for every applicant. Yet, in spite of this, we actually found the average healthcare worker to have slightly more skills than asked for in the average job opening. Still, the bigger picture is that there’s a lot of variance within healthcare. Some jobs are hungry for candidates with the missing skills while others aren’t !function(e,t,s,i){var n="InfogramEmbeds",o=e.getElementsByTagName("script")[0],d=/^http:/.test(e.location)?"http:":"https:";if(/^\/{2}/.test(i)&&(i=d+i),window[n]&&window[n].initialized)window[n].process&&window[n].process();else if(!e.getElementById(s)){var r=e.createElement("script");r.async=1,r.id=s,r.src=i,o.parentNode.insertBefore(r,o)}}(document,0,"infogram-async","https://e.infogram.com/js/dist/embed-loader-min.js"); Once again, the data simply did not meet our expectations based on all the writing about the healthcare skill gap. We expected to see under-qualified applicants, reflecting the difficulty healthcare employers say they are experiencing when finding the right applicants. But that’s not what we see. For example, you can see in the chart above that there’s an enormous skill gap for biophysicists. The big picture for healthcare is more or less the same as that for tech. The skills gap which employers and media discuss at length simply doesn’t show up in these data. What gap there is comes mostly from a few very specific skills like patient care, therapy, mental health, and counseling. On the other hand, there are no skills which stand out as being far too common in resumes. There are, however, two industries where skills gaps are undeniably clear. Architects and Engineers Are Actually Under-Qualified The two job categories where the skill and experience gaps were clear was architects and engineers. With only two small exceptions (visible below) the experience and skills for every job came in at an average of 5.8% below employer expectations. This actually matches the media narrative about the greater need for STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math) training (unlike the tech industry). The US Chamber of Commerce report mentioned earlier finds 15% more openings than available workers, so this data certainly matches what we’d expect from those numbers. !function(e,t,s,i){var n="InfogramEmbeds",o=e.getElementsByTagName("script")[0],d=/^http:/.test(e.location)?"http:":"https:";if(/^\/{2}/.test(i)&&(i=d+i),window[n]&&window[n].initialized)window[n].process&&window[n].process();else if(!e.getElementById(s)){var r=e.createElement("script");r.async=1,r.id=s,r.src=i,o.parentNode.insertBefore(r,o)}}(document,0,"infogram-async","https://e.infogram.com/js/dist/embed-loader-min.js"); Still, there are important differences between individual jobs here (most dramatically between chemical and electrical engineers). For example, someone choosing between studying in one of those fields, assuming that they both qualify as engineering jobs and engineering jobs are in demand, would be a mistake. That 15% employment gap doesn’t apply to all engineering jobs equally. On the opposite extreme, the “industry” (more like a category) which saw a consistent pattern where workers had more skills than employers were asking for was “low-skilled workers”. No Surprise, Low-Skilled Applicants Are Overqualified Here we see a confirmation of a media narrative. Decreasing demand for low-skilled jobs like cashiers and customer service representatives without a corresponding decrease in the supply of people willing to work these jobs has led to the average candidate being very overqualified. Every single one of these jobs shows a higher than required skill and experience level, usually by margins of over 15%. No other industry shows anything close to this level of consistency. !function(e,t,s,i){var n="InfogramEmbeds",o=e.getElementsByTagName("script")[0],d=/^http:/.test(e.location)?"http:":"https:";if(/^\/{2}/.test(i)&&(i=d+i),window[n]&&window[n].initialized)window[n].process&&window[n].process();else if(!e.getElementById(s)){var r=e.createElement("script");r.async=1,r.id=s,r.src=i,o.parentNode.insertBefore(r,o)}}(document,0,"infogram-async","https://e.infogram.com/js/dist/embed-loader-min.js"); Experience Isn’t as Important as You Might Think We also looked at how many months of experience applicants had relative to what employers were asking for. Surprisingly, the average employer wanted only about 1.5 months more experience than the average resume writer had. This further reinforces the conclusion that by taking a top-down view reveals that there isn’t such a big gap between what employers want and what applicants have. One interesting takeaway was that there’s actually little correlation between the skills and experience gap, meaning building your skill set can be effective even if you don’t have that much experience. For anyone interested in changing careers or starting their first one, this is welcome news. Of course, there’s also plenty of data showing which skills are most valuable in various jobs. If you’re thinking about what to study, whether to go back to school, or even where to focus your career development, you may be asking what this means for you. Be Wary of the Big Picture The skills gap isn’t simply that the average worker doesn’t have the skills needed for the average job. It’s rather that the workers have too many skills that aren’t wanted by employers and not enough of skills that are. As that US Chamber of Commerce report put it, we’re not dealing with a single “gap” so much as many “potholes”. The takeaway for average workers is that they cannot simply look at a skill gap affecting a single industry and conclude that it makes sense to move to that industry. People need to be far more precise in the skills they develop and the jobs they pursue. Furthermore, most research on the skills gap (or on job availability) focuses on entire industries. You’ve got the tech skills gap, the healthcare skills gap, and so on. What we’ve shown here is that looking at entire industries very often masks the stark differences within them. If you read an article about the tech skills gap and decide you want to move into the tech industry, you might end up becoming a .Net developer. Problem is, .Net developers are massively overqualified, indicating heavy competition for those positions. US workers should take this to heart. Developing the right skills and changing your job should be focused on the job and not the industry. In addition, thinking about the skills needed, base these on what employers ask for. Often, there’s a substantial gap between the skills employers want and what applicants have. Developing and emphasizing these skills, therefore, can put you at a substantial advantage. You can check out our resume examples page where we’ll be adding more job-specific advice based on these data in the coming weeks.

Eric D. Halsey
Sep 8, 2022 9 min read
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Career Growth
Getting Hired in the Blockchain and Cryptocurrency World

Two insider accounts of how hiring works in a field unlike any other If I told you I knew someone with 10 years of experience in banking, there’s no reason you should care. But if I told you I knew someone with 10 years of experience in blockchain, you should sit up and take notice. Because that person could only be the mysterious creator of the technology itself. All that is to say, if someone decided they wanted to hire someone with “at least 10 years of blockchain experience” (common in many other industries for senior positions) they would be out of luck. Those people don’t exist. So in a world where we see existing experience and formal education as the two ways to get hired, how does hiring work? If you’re interested in working in the industry, what can you do? Why blockchain companies are hiring fast When it comes to hiring, the blockchain and crypto industry is being pulled in two directions. On the one hand, ICO (Initial Coin Offerings) have made financing far more available. This has allowed many companies to hire faster than would have been possibly relying on traditional sources of financing. Combine this with an annual growth rate of 51% (even with the occasional hiccup) and it’s clear that companies should be hiring quickly. On the other hand, while the money to hire new workers is often there, the workers themselves aren’t. As should be clear by now, an industry this young is nearly guaranteed to have a dearth of experienced technical professionals. Most blockchain development projects either involve vast sums of money or sensitive information stored on the blockchain. Mistakes can therefore be catastrophic, so companies are under intense pressure to hire development teams they can rely on. Combine those two forces and you have a recipe for real tension. But more importantly, you have a place for huge opportunities for job seekers. The question for many is, how to be one of those getting hired. Insider tips for getting a blockchain developer job Despite the intense need for technical expertise, Nikolay Todorov, founder and CEO of the blockchain development and consulting company Limechain put it bluntly when he said: “tech skills are secondary to culture fit.” As he’s grown his company 5 to 20 employees in its first year, his top priority skills have actually been adaptability and perseverance. The thinking is similar to that of other industries, technical skills (as tricky as they are) can always be taught. But teaching the adaptability and perseverance which is so critical to thriving in an industry like this is far harder. Still, technical expertise is important. This is particularly true for companies developing their own blockchain. For attracting the kind of talent needed for such projects, high salaries and other perks often aren’t enough. Nemanja Cerovac, chief product officer at the cryptocurrency market analysis firm Santiment, points out that “sometimes, it’s not about the money. It’s whether your project’s vision excites the talent enough to be part of it.” This makes sense considering Todorov’s focus on perseverance. With all of the unpredictability of such a new industry, companies need to offer a compelling vision to get through the ups and downs. This also dispels a pernicious myth within the industry, namely that it’s “all about Lambos [and] getting filthy rich” For Cerovac, if you show up under that illusion and you’re not likely to get hired. But aside from insights into getting a job on the technical side, one thing both Todorov and Cerovac emphasized was the need for non-technical workers in the blockchain industry. The surprising opportunities in non-technical blockchain jobs Surprisingly, the toughest positions for Limechain to hire for are non-technical. “[Hiring] blockchain developers is the most straightforward, however, marketing and sales roles are also a challenge as the approach to positioning, marketing message and sales approach is slightly different from the traditional field of the tech sector.” In fact, the most difficult position Limechain has had to hire for is a project manager. Ultimately, Todorov sees some of the biggest opportunities in the field as being in non-technical jobs. Cerovac echoed this when he explained that “experience in blockchain or crypto would be great. If you don’t have any, don’t let that stop you from applying.” The same focus on soft skills exists here as well, with adaptability and perseverance still paramount among them. So demonstrating that you possess these traits will get you a major leg up. All in all, their experiences show how the hype around blockchain and crypto has not been enough to bring in good non-tech hires. But ultimately, for technical and non-technical hires alike, the best way to stand out in hiring is to show the right personality traits and get involved in the community. The most important element in hiring: community involvement A strong and surprisingly small community is at the heart of the blockchain and crypto world. For Santiment, involvement in that community has been critical to growing its team. Looking at the hiring side, Cerovac thinks not enough people realize that “social, community and humanitarian skills are of great value in blockchain space.” As a result, perhaps the most valuable thing you can do to get a job in the industry, whether technical or not, is to join the community. A history there goes a long way towards landing a coveted job and proving that you’re getting involved for the right reasons. Founders like Todorov aren’t interested in bringing on employees who are getting into blockchain development simply because it’s hot at the moment. He describes wanting to see a genuine and sustained interest in the long-term potential of the technology. The challenge is demonstrating that sustained interest from the first time a recruiter sees your resume straight through to the interview. Beyond being an important tool for matching candidates with roles, Cerovac sees strong communities as being the critical element sustaining blockchain and crypto companies as they grow. It’s best to start by looking at local co-working spaces, blockchain companies, or open meetups to get a foothold in your local community. The takeaway: hiring in blockchain and crypto isn’t what you’d imagine If you think you don’t have the technical expertise to work in the field, clearly that element isn’t as important as you thought. For those with the right attitude and a willingness to get involved in their local blockchain community, the opportunities are significant. But in the meantime, companies are still likely to struggle with hiring the talent needed to bring their lofty ambitions to life. Ultimately, if blockchain and crypto technology is going to change the world, it needs to overcome its own HR hurdles first.

Eric D. Halsey
Sep 8, 2022 5 min read
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Career Growth
How to Get a Job Referral

Acquiring a job referral can make all of the difference in getting hired. More than 60% of employees that were referred to an open position were hired by the employer. In comparison, those applying to jobs in general have only about a 2% chance of even getting an interview. Even if half of those interviewed are hired, this means getting referred correlated with a 60,000% increase in your chance of getting hired. The trouble comes in knowing who to ask, what to do if you have no connections, and how to draft the message to request a referral. Luckily, we’ve got all the answers for you. With our guide, you can get a job referral that will get you one step closer the job you want. The benefits of getting a job referral More fulfilling work The statistics are pretty overwhelming on the benefits: employees who get a job through referrals are more likely to enjoy their job and feel satisfied with their culture fit. This makes a lot of sense. Considering you’ll get referred from personal connections (or connections you’re soon to form), the company you get referred to is likely to share values with your friends, who are likely to share values with you. Get noticed by big firms As the size of a company increases, so does the percentage of jobs filled through referrals. This means you can leverage referrals to get noticed by large companies that may be bombarded with millions of resumes each year. Your referral is an effective side-step in the process that will push your resume further up the line, or lead straight to an interview. Tip: When Sam was making her career change, she submitted a resume to Spotify and also used her connections to get referred to her current position. It was a two-pronged approach. Impress the employer More than 50% of employers consider employees that have been referred to be a better fit for their organisation. This follows much of the same logic as feeling more fulfilled in your work, but the consequence of this is you’re more likely to impress your employer in jobs you’ve been referred to compared to those you’ve not been referred to. Who to ask for referrals First-connections Your first connections are those that you have direct contact with. These are people you’ve previously worked with, close friends, colleagues, and so on. Those who are in your first network are best to ask for referrals as rapport has already been built and they’re more likely to help you out. Tip: Where possible, ask for a referral from senior-level management as 91% of people referred by a director got hired compared to 53% referred by those at entry-level. Second-connections These are the people who you are connected to through a mutual acquaintance. While not preferable, second-connections are great for expanding your network. These connections tend to come in when researching positions on LinkedIn. It’s important to build a rapport with second-connections before requesting a job referral from them so this method can take a bit longer. Bonus: Student Connections Students have an alternative route to go down when it comes to referrals. Universities and schools come with an array of connections to companies, different universities, community organisations, and more. If you’re currently in school, you can ask your careers service if they have connections with anyone that may work in the company you’re looking to apply to or something similar. You can also contact professors, student clubs, and honor societies. Tip: Do you need to write a reference letter? Check out our best practices. What if I don’t have insider connections? Step 1: Select your contact The first thing you need to do with no insider connections is to pick someone that has influence in the organisation you’re applying to. For example, if you’re hoping to apply for the Regional Manager in a certain organisation, find someone who works as a Branch Manager, or the Managing Director. Learn more about finding connections later in this post. The key to this is finding someone whose opinion will have a plausible influence on the hiring practice of an opening position. Step 2: Set up an informational interview The next thing to do is reach out to this person (more on this later) an organise an informational interview. This is a quick meeting where you ask the person about their role, their time in the company, and so on. The idea here is to build a relationship with the person without introducing the idea of getting a referral straight away. If the organisation that interests you is scheduled to appear at a careers fair, ask this person if they intend on going. If so, that’s your in. If not, you can use this to setup the interview. “I was hoping to speak to you on [project they’re involved in] How does [meeting point] sound?” Step 3: Discern challenges Your objective in the informational interview is to identify challenges the company is facing at the moment. Of course, the person you’re speaking to won’t be able to divulge confidential information, but simply learn about obstacles they’re trying to overcome in their role, or even previous issues. Step 4: Offer solutions Once you’ve identified challenges (of which, something related to an open position is bound to come up), then you can take time to brainstorm how you can offer possible solutions. Follow-up with the person after your interview and mention how you think you can help. “I recall you mentioning [issue]. In my experience, [solution] could help this. I saw you have an opening for [open position], would you be comfortable referring me for [open position] and we can try put [solution] into action? Where to find your connections LinkedIn Before reading this post you must have thought of using LinkedIn for connections. The question is, how do you find people on LinkedIn who may provide a referral? You can utilise LinkedIn’s search feature. On desktop, click on “Jobs”. From there, you’ll see an option to filter jobs by “In Your Network” this will show you connections you have that work at organisations with job openings. You can also go through any LinkedIn groups you’re a member of to identify possible connections. Facebook Much like LinkedIn, you can easily search through Facebook Groups to find people who work in organisations of interest. It is also possible to search for people who work in an organisation directly in Facebook’s search bar. Simply search “People who work at [company of interest]” to identify these people. Reminder: Messages sent on Facebook without being friends end up in a message request filter. This can lower your chances of being noticed. Meetups Meetup is an app that allows you to host networking and mingling events with peers based on a mutual interest. Many professionals host meetups to network and get to know one another. These can be used to find people who work in your field / an organisation of interest. Careers Fair Also known as a job fair, a careers fair is an exciting opportunity to meet your dream company or a potential employer with casual conversation. While they’re mainly used to leave an impression on the recruiter with your resume, they can also be used to network and make connections. Check the social media of the organisation of interest to see if they’re going to be at an upcoming job fair. Recruitment agencies typically advertise these too. How to ask for a referral The key to asking a colleague (or recent connection) to refer you for a job lies in the language you use. You don’t want your request to come across as a demand, nor do you want to put the person in the position in which they feel they have to refer you. You want someone to be more than happy to do this, in fact, if you build rapport correctly, your connection should be motivated to do this on their own. See a sample below. Asking for a job referral (sample) Hi [Person’s Name], I hope you’re doing well. Following from our conversation on [challenge to business] I had some ideas on how I could [solution]. I’m excited by the [attribute of the business] and noticed there was a job opening for [open position]. Do you feel you know enough about me to write a referral letter for the position? I’d love to start working on [challenge to business] as soon as possible. For the role, I believe my skill in [3 skills relevant to the job opening / description] coupled with my experience in [prior experience linked to challenge to business] would bring a lot of value. Let me know what you think. [Your name] What makes this sample effective? Using this format, you lean on your previous rapport with the individual and provide them autonomy over their decision on referring you “Do you feel you know enough…”. You clearly outline your suitability for the open position to them (i.e., your value proposition) too. They’ve got all the information they need.   Getting your job referral Job referrals can hep you get noticed by the recruiter, find more fulfilling work, and leave a great impression. Using your existing network and those connected to you through mutual friends, as well as leveraging contacts made available to you through your work or study, can help you identify the best person to provide your referral. Even if you don’t have insider connections to your organisation of interest, it is possible to get a referral. When requesting a referral, reference previous conversations, outline your value proposition, and ask your connection whether or not they feel comfortable doing so. Tip: Utilizing Enhancv’s resume builder, you can benefit from our built-in referral system to send a link of your resume to your contact as a reference of your previous experience.

Dean O'Reilly
Sep 8, 2022 8 min read
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Career Growth
Creating a Professional Development Plan – a Guide Based on Experience

Creating a professional development plan is about far more than just checking off a list of goals. Sure, it’s a good way to move your career forward, but it’s also about bringing you purpose and peace of mind. Today, with a year and a half of hindsight, I’m bringing you my story and all of the hard-won lessons that came with it. Unemployed for the first time in 10 years… I woke up and immediately felt a profound sense of confusion. It was the first day that I was unemployed. It felt weird even thinking about that word in relation to myself. I started working full-time when I was in my first year of university and had spent precisely 10 years with no employment gap. This was the first time when I didn’t have anything lined up after quitting my previous position. I felt like I had no direction. Which was strange, but at the same time amazing. It gave me so much freedom! I was looking forward to shopping around, checking what the job market has to offer, and figuring out my priorities. Today, I want to share some of the things I did – and some of the things I should’ve done – when planning my next career move. I hope this guide helps you, no matter if you’re looking for the right next step, a big career change or something that finally makes you happy. Stage 1: Find your professional development and personal development directions When I was planning my last career change, I already knew marketing was my field. But even in this case, I had the option to choose from many different directions. Did I still want to go in a company marketing team? How about an agency? What about freelance? Just as the famous jam experiment suggests, when presented with too many options choosing becomes that much harder. I needed a system. And any good system for professional development planning should look at your personal development, as well. So the next exercises look at life and all its domains holistically. Direction planning by looking back Human beings are bad predictors of the future. But then again, we’re good at remembering our past and this is also a great starting point. So you can start by looking at your past experiences and your current situation to get some patterns out. Health/Work/Play/Love Dashboard An idea stolen from a book is the dashboard presented in Designing Your Life. It’s a cleaner version of the life domains and it shows clearly what’s lacking in your life. Here’s my example. You can find the template on the book’s website. It’s a very quick exercise if you do it the way it’s intended – but if you put things into perspective, extend the period of looking forward from 2 weeks to 2 months or half a year, you’d get a different challenge completely. Workview and Lifeview If you need to dive deeper than creating the dashboard, you might venture into creating a full Workview and Lifeview. This is a more detailed account of how different areas of your life play together and what’s their significance. Some questions you might want to answer: Workview: Why work? What’s work for? What does work mean? How does it relate to the individual, others, society? What defined good or worthwhile work? What does money have to do with it? What do experience, growth, and fulfillment have to do with it? Lifeview: Why are we here? What is the meaning or purpose of life? What is the relationship between the individual and others? Where do family, country, and the rest of the world fit in? What is good, and what is evil? Is there a higher power, God, or something transcendent and if so, what impact does this have on your life? What is the role of joy, sorrow, justice, injustice, love, peace, and strife in life? Don’t overcomplicate things – each of these two exercises should take about 30 minutes and result in a text of 250 words or less. Looking at the two, it should be easier to identify where the two views complement each other, where they clash and if/how one of them drives the other. Write a Good Time Journal Another way of understanding what’s important is looking back. What are the activities you’ve done over the last day or the last week? Write them down and rank them based on three criteria: Engagement: how interesting was the activity? How present you felt while doing it? Energy: did it energize you or did it leave you in need of a break? Flow: did you achieve that state of flow, where you don’t feel time passing, as you’re completely immersed in the activity? Here’s an example. Although I feel engaged when drafting marketing copy, it’s a very draining activity for me and halfway through I feel like I need to rest and recharge. But when analyzing ad campaign performance, I can go on for hours and forget about lunch (or, ahem, bathroom breaks). If you look back at a couple of weeks’ worth of activities, you’ll get a clear sense of what works for you and what doesn’t. Direction planning by looking forward By now, you’ve probably gotten a good idea about where you stand, so now it’s time to look at where you want to go. I first saw these exercises in Jenny Blake’s book Pivot, which was an important part of my professional development journey. Your ideal day Turns out extracting what you want in life is easier when going into specifics. Think about your ideal day. Say it’s 3 years from now: What do you think of first thing in the morning? What’s the purpose you get out of bed? How is your day structured? How does your workspace look? What do you do there? How much time do you spend with your close ones? What gives you a sense of accomplishment at the end of the day? What energizes you and what drains your energy? You may want to go and answer each question or you might want to craft a full story – here’s Jenny Blake’s Ideal Day Mad Lib template, just copy and fill in! Values Mind Mapping Now give that story a thorough read through and extract any common topics you see. Are you focused on family or is travel crazy important for you? You can easily create a mind map of your values – it’s a clean and visual way of setting your priorities. I am not a big fan of mind maps, however, this is a rare situation where I find them useful. Here’s an example of my mind map: Planning by Life Domains Some people find mind mapping difficult, as they simply don’t know where to start. It’s true – the process is messy and lacks structure. If you feel like going in with some help, you can plan through what Michael Hyatt calls the 10 Life Domains. The full list includes: Intellectual Emotional Physical Spiritual Marital Parental Social Financial Vocational (career-related and professional) Avocational (hobbies and interests) I personally find these overwhelming and I have combined a few together – e.g. Emotional and Spiritual, Intellectual and Vocational. But it’s a nice comprehensive list that will point you towards all key areas of your life. So I’d include as many categories as I need, but not more! Stage 2: Inventory checking – professional skills and personal strengths By now you’ve taken the map, you spread it out and marked point A, your current position and point B, your desired state. But how do you get there? Do you have a car, a boat, or a helicopter? Time to check your inventory. Mapping your strengths After having a clear picture in my head of what I wanted, I checked that against my strengths. This is important for 3 key reasons: Reality check: My dream future might be that of an astronaut, but at 30 and with no STEM background it will remain a dream. Aiming high is good. Aiming too high is simply a waste of time. Development planning: Say you’re 30% on the road to your ideal future. Knowing this gives you a sense of progress and a way to plan what you need to do to get to 60%, 80%, 90%. Work satisfaction: Turns out when you get to use your key strengths at work, you feel more accomplished and engaged. So knowing what your strengths are and sculpting your work around them has long-term benefits. There are many surveys that can help you get to know yourself better. A popular one is the Myers Briggs test, but I find it highly dependant on my mood and the time of taking it. I’ve done StrengthFinder 2.0 2 times already. The information in it is much more stable and useful, especially when talking about work-related strengths. For a free alternative, you can check the VIA character strengths (based on Dr. Martin Seligman’s work). It is geared towards personal as well as professional strengths. Once you find out your strengths, take a close look at the forward-looking exercises you’ve done. Do you get to use all your strengths in your ideal future? Do any tweaks and start planning how to get where you want to be. Listing your assets No development journey happens in a bubble. There probably are people you can rely on, connections you can leverage, learning opportunities to take. You can map those out by using Jenny Blake’s Opportunity Grid, which has three categories: Who are the people you can learn from or get inspired by? What are the skills you want to develop and the ones that will be most useful? What are the projects you can pursue in your development? Personal SWOT analysis After so much thinking and checking, you’d have an overwhelming amount of information, so it’s time to summarize in the shape of a personal SWOT analysis. The concept is the same as the popular corporate/brand SWOT – listing strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats you need to be aware of. Here’s how those apply to personal development. Strengths: What am I good at? What areas do I pick up easily? Any qualifications I can make use of? What are my morals and values? Weaknesses: What do I still need to learn? What work areas drain my energy? What do I have to get better at? Opportunities: What projects can I pick up? What contacts can I use? What new skills in my industry can I learn? Threats: Are there key skills others in my industry have that I don’t? What parts of my job am I not really proud of? How does technology affect my job? Having all of this information codified gives you a good starting point for actually making a plan. Stage 3: Roadmap development So here we are, the meat of it. When I was doing my development plan, I didn’t spend nearly enough time on the first two stages, so I wanted to give you a bunch of options here. Going forward, it’s time to look at different roads to take. Puzzle building This is the actual approach I took when reviewing new opportunities. I had my current state, my point A, and my idea of a great future, point B. I didn’t plan the whole process going to point B but treated my next step as a piece of a puzzle between the two. The criteria then got really simple: Does that opportunity fit my strengths and does it build on what I’m good at? So does the puzzle piece connect nicely with point A? Does it get me closer to my desired future? Does the puzzle piece go closer to the point B state or does it veer off in another direction? I had never considered so many options: startups, big companies, digital agencies, freelance work, part-time… But I didn’t feel overwhelmed anymore, as I could easily single out the viable opportunities from the noise. Alternative Odyssey Plan A much more structured approach that you can take is looking at the big picture even before going into opportunities evaluation. I found this interesting approach in Designing Your Life and would’ve really liked to test it out. The exercise goes, as follows: Look at your Good Time Journal and pick one energizing, one engaging and one flow activity. Build a mind map for each creating branches of related activities in at least 3 degrees out. Look at the outer ring, pick 3 things and create a job description based on them. Then build a 5-year (or 3-year) plan of how this “job” might develop. Rank it based on the resources needed, your liking of the plan, your confidence in succeeding, the plan’s coherence. Jot down the key questions that the plan depends on. Here’s a look at an Odyssey plan example. I created it for a fictional situation where I’d like to invest time in empowering women through branding. It’s super basic, but it’s just an illustration of what you can work on. Again, the template can be found on the book’s website. Getting ideas through coffee Of course, those alternative plans are an equivalent to looking at a crystal ball – it’d be great if it works, but it really doesn’t. To get back to reality, you might want to check with someone “living the dream”. Access to people currently in your dream job can be surprisingly easy with the availability of professional networks and online calls. So do your research, buy that person a coffee (real or virtual) and talk to them about their career and their day to day work. What you’d want to get from these conversations is answers to two questions: Is this really what you’re looking for? Does the reality match your dreams? If yes, what is the way to get there? It might feel awkward at first, but people like helping others and they certainly love talking about themselves. So you will get them sharing in no time. A great example of that strategy can be found on Fifty Coffees. A New Yorker set on a project to find her next adventure… by talking to people! She did just 14, though, before getting a job for Esther Perel, a famous relationship expert. Still, the interviews are quite interesting. They illustrate well what doors can open to you over coffee. Stage 4: Start testing By this point, you’d probably have a clearer idea of what the right next step is. Hopefully, you wouldn’t have had those coffees all at ones, as you’d be too jittery and that will stop you from the next important step – giving those cool ideas a go. In Pivot Jenny Blake calls this stage “Pilot”, and the authors of Designing Your Lifetalk about “prototyping”. In any case, think of it as a low effort way to dip your toe into the water. There are three benefits here: It helps you get a clearer picture of what working in this new field full time would look like; It gives you some initial experience, new contacts, and maybe even a reputation that you can then use to your advantage; It lowers the risk for you in financial and any other way. This stage can take a lot of different shapes, but the important thing is that it doesn’t take you more than 10-20% of your time and effort so that you can do it parallel to a current job you have. Some ideas in that direction would be volunteer work, doing part-time projects for friends, even doing an internship with a company. Test, test, and test again. Once you find something that sticks, you’d be at the perfect position of jumping on that opportunity. If you are actually planning to go into marketing, here’s a dedicated post on planning a marketing career. How my career planning went I first opened up Pivot on a three-hour flight headed to Madrid for a much needed long weekend with my partner. It was tough to not know what I’ll be doing once back, but I was determined to use the upcoming months well to understand what I really want. My professional development journey started on that plane to Madrid and ended a month and a half later. It took long hours of priority building, 20+ meetings with friends and work acquaintances, five or more actual job offers. I didn’t go with the highest bidder for my marketing skills. I went with something more important. For the first time, I was choosing a company based on the team and the personal skills of the founders. And it’s something that I didn’t really know I was looking for before doing some personal development planning. A year and a half later, I’m the happiest I’ve ever been at a company. I love Enhancv and I’m still confident this was the right choice. Hope you find the right choice, as well. Let me know how I can help along the way!

Vassilena Valchanova
Sep 8, 2022 13 min read