Yes, I really did help a Lion Tamer find work! The circus had closed down and he was unsure of where to look for work. Last time I checked, lion taming skills were not in high demand so a career change was necessary.
His dream was to continue to work with his hands at a steady full-time job. Through skills assessment testing, we determined that he was qualified to do general labour work in a warehouse. He had the strength to lift heavy things (lions are heavy beasts to maneuver into position) and he was extremely focused (you have to be when training wild animals… your life depends on it). With my guidance, within a short time he found steady full-time work in a warehouse. Yes, it was a major career change, but one that made sense in terms of skill sets and expectations.
On the other side of the spectrum, we have the impatient dreamers who want to make huge career shifts in a very short space of time. I cannot count the number of times a job seeker has come to me looking for work with unrealistic expectations. For example, the dishwasher—with no relevant skills or experience—who wants to work in upper management in a government office within a few months.
Now don’t get me wrong. It is great to have dreams! I am a firm believer that dreamers make the world go round. It is possible for a dishwasher to climb the career ladder, as long as she is willing to do what it takes to get there! For starters, this future public sector manager would need to determine where in government she wants to work (e.g. finance, immigration, transportation, etc.); what are the required skills (e.g. computers, team supervision, budgeting, report writing, etc.); and does she know anyone who already works in the sector (e.g. personally or via social media). She would then have to review her skills and determine where there are gaps to fill.
With every dream, there is work involved to make it a reality. If you’re looking to make a minor career shift or a major career change, start by taking these four steps that can help bring your dreams closer to reality:
- Research the position you would like to apply for. Look at a minimum of 10 job postings for that position and you will see a common thread in terms of required skills and experience.
- Ask yourself if you have the necessary or similar (transferable) skills.
- Identify the skills that you are lacking and seek out where you can acquire those skills. I have found volunteering to be very helpful in this area.
- Be persistent and patient as you work to build your new skill(s).
It will take time and patience. There is no such thing as an overnight success. What people do not see in these “quick success” stories are the countless hours that the successful people have put in learning and practicing their skills.
My Challenge To You: If you are looking to do a career change, what new skills can you acquire (e.g. via training, volunteering) to get you closer to your dream job? Identify who you need to speak with to begin the journey (e.g. a career counsellor, someone working in your desired field). When it comes to achieving your career dreams, it’s important to keep moving forward and looking upwards!