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The Career Coach: Ask yourself these questions about your career

Pernilla Thellmark has extensive experience in career and leadership development. She works as a career coach at the School of Economics and Management at Lund University and also runs the consulting firm Nilla Karriär & Kommunikation. Here, she provides you with the questions you should ask yourself to make decisions about your career.

Pernilla Thellmark

1. What are my goals for the next step in my career?

If you can’t formulate a goal for your next step, job searching may feel vague and difficult to grasp, with the risk of not getting started. Try to pinpoint something that feels important to you; it will facilitate your job search. Perhaps you want to take on more responsibility or deepen your knowledge through skills development in a specific area? Maybe you want to try something completely new?

2. Do I know what jobs are available?

Exploring industries and job titles is a good way to inject energy into your job search. Perhaps you’ll discover interesting employers you weren’t aware of, or you’ll become aware of job positions that may suit you. Utilize your curiosity to explore the job market.

For example, consider the companies behind the products and services you encounter throughout a day. Read job advertisements and websites, ask people about their jobs, try different keywords to broaden your options.

3. Do I know what I am capable of and how to present myself to an employer?

What are my strengths and what am I like as a colleague? What motivates me and how can I contribute with my skills and experience? Job seeking is largely about marketing oneself. It requires, first and foremost, time for reflection and an opportunity to get to know oneself better.

What do you want a potential employer to know about you? Consider concrete examples from previous jobs or academic situations that describe how you have handled different tasks and contributed with your skills and strengths. A good way to prepare and strengthen yourself is to seek feedback from others. Ask friends and colleagues about the strengths they appreciate in you. Remember that the most important thing is to demonstrate a positive attitude and explain why you want to be a part of the organisation.

4. Who is in my network?

I often meet people who feel they don’t have a relevant network. And I usually ask, “what is considered relevant?” People working in the industry in which you want to work is often the answer. Keep in mind that you never know who can help you move forward.

Building a network simply involves getting to know people. We often have a larger network than we think; colleagues, classmates, friends, neighbors and many more. When you feel ready for a new step in your career, don’t be afraid to ask for help. Ask people in your network for tips and advice, and share what you’re looking for. Most people are willing to help! Use LinkedIn to stay informed about what’s happening on the job market as well as to expand and deepen your network. Be active by sharing, liking, following and writing posts. However, don’t forget that face-to-face meetings are what impact us the most.

5. What makes me feel good?

We spend many hours of our lives at our place of work, so enjoying it is crucial. Consider what you need to feel good at a workplace. Do you prefer working independently or being part of a team? What kind of leadership do you need? How do you want the balance between work and personal life to be?

When we enjoy our workplace, we perform better.

Best of luck!


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