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    Life’s a journey – learn as you go

    The holiday season… the new year… it’s a busy time for many of us.  It’s also a time of reflection and of anticipation as to what the next year holds.

    Today I’d like to offer encouragement to those of you who may find yourself unemployed or possibly in a job with no foreseeable future.  Many of us have been there – including me.  Perhaps today you’ll find not just encouragement, but an idea or two that might help open a door to your next opportunity.

    Young people… don’t feel you have to figure out your entire career today.  Very few people know what they want to do while they’re in their teens or early 20s.  And of those who do, very few end up in that same line of work 30 years later.

    The employment landscape has shifted dramatically from a generation or two ago, both in terms of necessary skills and of the longevity factor.  People change jobs – even careers – much more frequently than ever before.  Your job today helps position you for the next one… and the next one… and the next one.

    Part of anyone’s challenge lies in figuring out what they enjoy and do well enough to get paid for doing it.  Often, those are the same thing, but not always.  I may enjoy playing golf, but… you get the picture.  So it becomes whether you can earn enough money to live in the manner with which you’re comfortable.  Money is a factor, but needn’t be the main factor, when deciding on that next job.  Look for that combination of using your talents in a satisfying role where the money is reasonable.

    Easier said than done, right?  Well, if you’re at a loss for what you’d like to do, consider taking some assessments.  That’ll give you a sense for your aptitudes and interests and then often provide you with jobs titles to match up with them.

    Another good option, and something I wish I’d done more early in life, is to seek out people for informational interviewing in order to better understand various careers paths.  I sort of fell into radio because of my voice.  It was fun, but in time I knew I didn’t want to stay in it.  Take time to get out of your daily routine to meet others and learn what they do.  Ask questions.  Use that information to help make a more informed choice in your next job change.

    When one door closes, another opens.  We’ve all heard that saying.  And it’s true, especially if you’ve just been laid off.  In many cases you probably weren’t entirely happy in the first place, but simply existed in a comfortable rut.  Losing your job forced you into exploring options.  I can’t tell you how many times clients have said that getting laid off was ultimately one of the best things that happened to them because they’re so much happier in their new role.

    It’s always interesting to me to hear about someone’s career twists and turns… how they got to be doing what they do for a living.  Remember, what we do today is likely to change.  How we embrace and manage that change is critical.  Good luck!

    Randy Wooden
    Randy Wooden is Director of the Professional Center by Goodwill of Northwest NC. Randy launched The Professional Center by Goodwill of Northwest NC, the first program of its type for any Goodwill®, in 2012. His experiences in career coaching, executive recruiting, business ownership, as a hiring manager and as a job seeker have afforded him the opportunity to view the hiring process from all angles. He developed and provided on-air talent for the Internet’s first daily, live television program targeted toward job hunters. He shares job search tips through a bi-weekly newspaper column; regular appearances on television, radio; and frequent public speaking appearances. Contact information: rwooden@goodwillnwnc.org, (336) 464-0516
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