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A sustainable career should be rich with career options and choices. You have six different career options in your current organization from which to choose. Different options make sense at different phases of your career. The six different career options are outlined as well as tools for assessing your current choice with some of the most important “do and don’t” strategies for implementing career options.

About the Author
Caela Farren, Ph. D.
, is President of MasteryWorks, Inc., - a leading Career Development consulting organization offering innovative solutions to large and mid-size companies, including Bayer, Baylor Health Care, Brown Forman, CapitalOne, Northrop Grumman, Reebok, Sprint, Sandia National Labs and Sodexo. MasteryWorks, Inc. provides enterprise web portals, training, consulting, e-Learning, and an assessment framework for employees and managers. For more than thirty-five years, Dr. Farren has been a passionate leader around complex issues redefining the workplace. She envisioned the current workplace climate fifteen years ago, when she published a cornerstone compendium on career development, “Who’s Running Your Career: Creating Stable Work in Unstable Times” (Bard Press, 1997). Through MasteryWorks, Inc., she oversees solutions that create the foundation for impact-filled “career conversations” - centered on increased contribution, performance, and fit. She is a leading authority of strategic approaches which consistently deliver employee engagement and retention goals for her clients. In her current series, “Sustainable Careers,” Dr. Farren describes the most important characteristics of Sustainable Careers.

For more information, contact Tom Karl, Executive Vice President or call us at (703)256-5712.

in our Sustainable Careers series

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Career Options: The More the Merrier!
The 10th Characteristic of a Sustainable Career

by Caela Farren, Ph.D., MasteryWorks, Inc.

“Wealth is not about having a lot of money; it’s about having a lot of options.”

— Chris Rock


Discover or rediscover your passion and then spend some time researching the types of positions and perhaps, organizations that fit your passion.Introduction
Having realistic career options is another characteristic of a sustainable career. It’s always a good idea to have multiple career options available even though you may be perfectly satisfied with your current position. Things change. A new boss has different expectations of you. Your product line or service unit is quickly downsized. Your work is no longer challenging or exciting. The competition continues to outperform your organization.

Seeing the Options

I know seeing options grounds me with a sense of freedom, imagination and control. I like to anticipate different possibilities and ready myself with options. Once I see a variety of options, I can make a choice based on what’s most important to me at that moment in time. Look for the options and choices that “fit” your personality in a career that may well span 20-30 or more years and where you log 40-60 hours per week. Discover or rediscover your passion and then spend some time researching the types of positions and perhaps, organizations that fit your passion. Study the possibilities and options to be able to upshift and downshift your career in directions that meet the needs and aspirations of your life.

Possibilities Abound

Just as life is a feast of limitless possibilities, a sustainable career should be rich with career options and choices to pursue. When we open our minds to possibilities, we see options that excite and engage us every day. Pick up a newspaper and see the new direction a competing organization is taking. Watch a commercial or see some product or service resonating with new career opportunities. Discover a new “app” on your smart phone that leads you to see new career possibilities or simply look at career opportunities across your organization in a different business unit, product line, or department.

Taking action by leaving something comfortable and walking out on the precipice constructed with possibilities,” maybes” and dreams is often a daunting and difficult step. We resist exploring options because of fear and risk. We find reasons to avoid change. We ask ourselves questions, like, “Is it worth making a career change? Am I too old for a change? Where would I start? Do I want to lose the security it’s taken me years to build up? Do I have the skills and knowledge for this choice?”

Career Options Within an Organization
In any large organization, you always have six different career options. Two of these options – enriching your current job and exploring other possibilities – are always available to you. They are not dependent on job openings in the organization. The other four options are dependent on finding or creating another position. Different options make sense at different phases of your career. The six different career options are outlined below as well as some reasons when each option may make the most sense to you.

People are your most valuable resources. The more people you know, the more opportunities you'll have in work and life. The more relationships you develop, the broader your base of knowledge and your potential to succeed—that’s true personally and professionally.

Lateral - Move across the organization to a different business unit, product line, department or functional area.
  • Opens more long-term growth opportunities because of industry trends
  • Better fit with organization strategies and priorities
  • More challenging work and projects

Enrichment - Stay in place by adding more responsibility and skills to your current job to prepare for another profession or project.
  • Missing some important skills for a future position that you can develop on your current job
  • Like the team, want to develop but keep current work-life balance options
  • Relatively new to organization and want to show learning potential

Explore - Research the organization to a different business unit, product line, department or functional area.
  • Unclear whether you need another degree, more formal education or certification
  • Your values are not in sync with the current organization, culture or leadership values
  • You’re not in an industry that you really care about

Vertical -
Move up in another division or organization to open doors or move into management.
  • Develop more skills and gain experience in project management or supervision
  • Increase salary and benefits
  • Test whether you want to be a people manager or individual contributor

Realign - Move down move into another functional area or profession with more options.
  • Start or complete educational degree
  • Move out of management back into being an individual contributor
  • Reduce stress, travel requirements, or responsibilities

Relocate - Move out and on – You may need to switch employers to change fields or move geographically to another area of the country or move into another organization.
  • You want to be closer to family, friends or live in a different kind of climate
  • You see options more closely aligned with your aspirations in another country or organization
  • Your partner has better career possibilities and you feel quite mobile

To learn more about these six career options, click on the OPTIONSSMART Assessment link. This assessment will demonstrate to you which of the six options might make the most sense at the current phase of your career. The Online version includes a Personal Report and recommendations designed for you to take appropriate action.

Career Choices - Being at the Right Place at the Right Time
Being in the "right place at the right time" is a critical component of making career choices. At MasteryWorks, we developed an industry standard system that can help you understand the importance and interrelationship of your career choices.

The CAREERRISK™ Assessment is a powerful tool for individuals and managers. It allows you to consider if you’re in the right position, the right industry, organization and profession. There are times when you might be in a great organization but the wrong profession (unrelated to strategic imperatives). Or you could be in a great industry, but not a vital organization. When you assess the total system of work, you make smarter choices for the long term.

To assess your career options, and make wiser career choices, take the CAREERRISK™ Assessment.

Once you’ve determined your best career options, take heed of the following do’s and don’ts.

Do's and Don'ts:heading here
1. Don’t do it all at once. Make a slow transition. Take baby steps. Find a mentor who can help you and provide access to his or her network. Plan your strategy carefully by breaking down and individually defining the elements of the new career option.
2. Do your homework. Learn as much as you can before you jump. Sharpen your skills and broaden your knowledge. If the skill you need is one you could use in your current job, see if your current employer will pick up the tab or renegotiate your roles and responsibilities.
3. Don’t underestimate your skills. Ask yourself what you will bring to the chosen career option. Can you leverage your current skills and experiences? Do a personal skill audit. Don’t forget your management skills, communication skills, research and program planning, public speaking conflict resolution and mediation, time management, computer literacy and language skills. Those are but a few you might bring to the new job.
4. Do consider your risk reward ratio. If you have built up a strong salary, bonus and benefits package, weigh the risk of losing it for a new career option. Determine the downside and upside potential of the new option. Discuss the opportunity with your mentor. Network with others who are experts in the field and get a detailed understanding of the risks presented.
5. Do have a Failsafe Plan. If your option means changing organizations or professions, make sure your retirement is portable, your health plan can be continued, that you have a solid business plan and the new organization is adequately funded, etc. If it makes more sense to wait to move, you can start to plan now for a career opportunity.
6. Moonlight and weekends. In the current economy, you might consider a new career choice is too risky. You can spend your time researching and preparing for the career option. You may hit on a career with a more stable long-term potential than your current job and you may be able to moonlight and weekend the new opportunities without leaving your job until you are confident of your new career.
7. Have a plan to get rid of your debts List all of your debts. Develop a long-term strategy to be debt free. Do not incur new debt.


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