Careers matter to people. Your career will occupy half of your waking hours; it will impact on your finances, your status, what you contribute to society, your happiness, your own fulfilment and others’ opinion of you. Your career will interweave with your home, your family and your leisure interests. And careers, certainly for those of us living in the UK today, mean choices about the kind of life you want to lead and being able to make decisions about those choices.
This is certainly a subject that deserves to be talked about, don’t you agree?
The power of career conversations came out of recent research I have been doing into graduate careers. One of my findings has been that individuals who had found suitable people to talk to about their hopes, fears and ambitions were much more positive about their career prospects. Ironically, although the ‘what’s your career plan?’ question may be one that graduates dread to hear, and would possibly shy away from, it is also one that most people would like to be able to have a stab at answering, especially if they know the person asking is genuinely interested and not just making small-talk.
Who the graduates in my research spoke to about their career varied – people they mentioned included careers advisers, lecturers, family members, friends, and work colleagues. Whoever that person might be, having people who they trusted to talk to, appeared to have significance in supporting individuals to have belief in themselves. It didn’t have to be someone who knew the ins and outs of the industry or occupation a graduate was interested in (though it might be), but somebody who was genuinely interested in that graduate.
So, where am I heading with this?
We have already posted about career planning and decision-making elsewhere, but I’d suggest that seeking out people to talk ‘out loud’ to about your career is a wise move. For some of you this may be already something you do, and if so, foster this and continue it. But if you are someone who doesn’t have anybody to talk to your career about, I’d suggest this is something to take action about. If you are not sure who to go to, arrange to talk to a careers adviser at the university.
Over time, I’ve actually come to think that for some people, there is a taboo about talking about careers; perhaps it’s a British thing, or a fear of people disparaging you or not understanding, and it could be related to how sometimes the most important things in life don’t get talked about, while we can all chatter away about trivia (I know I certainly can).
I know people vary in terms of how much they like to talk in general, but my research indicates that whether you are an extrovert or an introvert, having quality career conversations matter – ‘it’s good to talk’.
Make a note of your answers to the following questions:
Who do you talk to about your career? Which of these people do you find most useful to talk to?
If you don’t talk to anyone about your career, why is this?
If you don’t talk to anyone about your career, and you would like to, who do you think it would be useful to do so with?
There are different perspectives on careers advice. Watch this short video in which employers share their favourite bits of careers advice. Make a note of any points you think are useful.