Is it time to design think your career?

Trying to make a move in your career? You know the drill.

Scan the job boards.
Identify a promising posting.
Check LinkedIn for mutual connections.
Write a cover letter, update your resume.
Send materials into a black hole and pray.

For most of us, this seems like the job seeking strategy we have built our careers on.

But have we?

Think back to the various jobs you've had since your early 20's. How many positions did you end up in as a result of that process? How many positions did you enjoy that were a result of that process?

I'm going to guess that you've had at least one position in your career that you fell into, not because you applied for that specific role, but because you knew someone and an opportunity presented itself. Am I right? 

If you've been taking a traditional approach to job seeking, and it doesn't feel like it's working, it may be time to try a different approach: Design think your way to your next career move.

There are many reasons the traditional approach doesn't yield great results for many people. One is that your interests and skills may not fit into a specific type of job title or role. Or you might not be completely sure that what you want to do is what the job description conveys. Or you might not match the typical profile of people who have been hired for a specific kind of role. 

The good news is that design thinking your way to your next career move can help you land in a better spot. It might take a bit longer, and take you down new avenues that you hadn't anticipated, but in the long run it leads to better outcomes. 

So, what exactly is a design thinking approach to career building?

First you understand what the pain point is you're trying to solve for, come up with lots of ideas to solve the problem, test out solutions, refine, and build your way forward towards a career that's more aligned with who you are and what you want to do. You think through what is working in your career or your life, and build on it! (For more on design thinking your career read this.)

Why does this produce better results?

For starters, design thinking is all about prototyping. Prototyping your career interests gives you a way to test things out before committing to something. Plus, when you prototype you learn from the experience, which leads to a better understanding of what works, what you're interested in, and what's possible. 

Second, if you start moving forward and follow where your interests and learnings lead, you're more likely to stumble into something you didn't even know existed as a potential outcome. You might find yourself having a conversation about a potential role that doesn't even have an official job description! 

How do you actually start using a design thinking approach?

Start moving!

First understand where you are now and think through what you're trying to solve for. You don't want to have your destination in mind (that's the traditional approach), but you want to know where you are now - what works, and what doesn't - and have an open mind to what potential next steps might be.

Ask different questions. Instead of asking 'How do I get a job doing what you do?' try saying, 'It seems like what you do is something I'd really enjoy, can you tell me more about what it's like?'

Try things out. Instead of applying for jobs as a travel blogger, start a personal blog and see how you like going to different neighborhoods and writing about it every week for a month.

Our Life Design Series can also help you get moving - that's why we created it!  

You're bound to get better answers, stumble onto new connections or realizations, and feel more in control and positive about where you're headed with this approach.