Which cog in the wheel are you?
You’ve heard the saying: “we’re all just a cog in the wheel.” Picture all the jobs in the world make up one big wheel. We each are some piece of the wheel that come together to make it continually go round. You will inevitably be some part of this wheel, but what that piece is can vary significantly.
In order to help others figure out which role (in the wheel) they’d like to have, I often ask probing questions such as: what do you enjoy reading, discussing, and thinking about? What gaps or issues do you usually see that others don’t? What do you do to procrastinate? It is all about reflecting upon past experiences, figuring out when you were in “flow,” what you chose to do when others didn’t ask you to, and why you did it.
There are various questions to ask and ways to try to dig deep and find out what you enjoy. Usually, however, each individual already knows what their passion is. It is then a matter of teasing this out of the individual or relying on their ability to reflect on their past and have this self-realization. Then it is up to the individual to determine whether they are ready to A) admit what their true passion is and B) begin figuring out how to pursue that passion (via actionable steps and goal setting).
Individuals are more successful when they pursue what they are passionate about. Think about it logically- if you enjoy what you are talking about and working on, you are way more likely to understand the ins and outs better than others, continue learning new and changing facets of the industry, and thus elevate yourself to higher levels of the company.
Then there’s the fear. Let me dispel this next myth for you. It is never too late to begin pursuing your passion. You can always lean on transferrable skills that you gained through prior jobs (time management, project management, interpersonal skills, communication, etc.) that translate to most any job. I highly support companies that do not differentiate by college major (and the same theme should go for past experience) because not only is diversity of thought extremely valuable, but this person may have a very good reason why they are making such a switch.
You can utilize some different tools to help you make this switch such as a graduate degree (if feasible for you) or even something as simple as an objective field on your resume to make it clear what you are going for, if your resume does not make it clear based on your varying past experiences. Other pieces like networking and simple online research are also fundamental resources to any job search and understanding more about the field you wish to enter.
So what are your chances of being able to make a big switch? Let me remind you that you likely have been spending time researching or pursuing this passion as a hobby all along. Those are the ways you can explain a past “experience” in the area. Your passion and interest will shine through in any interview above others who are simply vying for the job because it’s what they know. This hobby and interest of yours has likely played out in various ways in your life to the point that you probably have done research online or even have had past real life experiences you can leverage to show your knowledge in this subject area. You can explain the pieces that you are more interested in learning about; once you start speaking their language they will feel like you already belong. One of the major factors companies seek is your willingness to do the job itself thus your genuine excitement about the topic will likely get you very far in an interview.
Yes, you may have to go a notch or so down in job level/title, but think about it, you have to work anyway right? You have to be some cog in the wheel. You may as well do what you love and reap the benefits of even more success. I recently met someone who absolutely loved their job and it did not even feel like work to them. This example should not be the minority but rather the majority. So, consider, which cog in the wheel are you?
Email me your thoughts at firstname.lastname@example.org.