5 exploratory moves for intrepid career changers

Career change

Helping my clients navigate the unchartered waters of career change is one of my favourite things.

Here are 5 exploratory moves based on career change conversations that began with ‘Where do I start?’

They’re designed to reduce your stress and increase your creativity and lateral thinking as you embark on your journey.

Remember as you do this that you are an explorer! Don’t think about specific jobs yet. Just investigate interesting ‘territories’. These are the places where you might pursue future careers.

1. Play the field

Spend two weeks purposefully noting where your attention falls. Which articles do you read first? Which conversations really engage you? Where do you click on Facebook? What do you listen to and watch?

Which topics and stories animate you so much that you just have to share them your friends?

Review your list and find your 5 strongest interest areas.   
Do they point to your ‘big picture’ passions? Are they a snapshot of a longed for or long forgotten interest?


2. Choose your top ‘holiday’ spots
Get specific, pick the ‘places’ you’d most like to visit. For example if you listed ‘writing’ which types of writing float your boat?

Perhaps you’d enjoy writing gritty crime novels or ground breaking investigative journalism or clever Facebook adverts or research reports or stirring speeches?

Once you’ve unpacked the possibilities of each of your 5 top ‘destinations’ be curious about how to get there. What’s involved in writing for social media or researching and reporting on matters close to your heart?

Select the spots that really spark your interest and point your itchy feet and inquisitive instincts at them.

3. Do smart research

Arm yourself with a solid set of data on each of your destinations. Diligent research is a powerful ally. It can reveal great and gruesome industry realties and set you up to deal calmly and clearly with unexpected obstacles and intriguing side roads.   

By all means go online but be wary of disappearing down a rabbit hole in pursuit of diverting but ultimately distracting information.


At this stage find people not jobs! Go out on a limb and talk to real people in a range of roles in your fields of interest. Most people are delighted to help and enjoy talking about themselves! Try LinkedIn as a great source of people with interesting careers. Arrange to visit their territory and pick their brains about what they do. Ask about their roles and how they got there. Get their take on the beautiful and the beastly aspects of their work. Finally, secure new leads by asking ‘Who else should I speak to?’

Capture the physical and emotional ‘intell’ from these conversations.  During or afterwards, note the things that resonated with you along with anything that jarred.  What do these facts and feelings tell you about your potential fit with a career in this area? What information does this add to your fields of interest? Accept that you’ll go down some dead ends. That’s a natural part of your exploration process.

4. Pack the essentials
Write your packing list ‘of career must haves’. This will save you some fruitless trips and help you assess the strength of the roadblocks you’ll meet on your way.

List and rank everything that matters, including:

●     tangibles like salary range and location and size of your target organisations

●     less tangible but equally vital aspects like culture and values

●     current skills and knowledge you value highly and intend to use

Assess each of your tentative career destinations and prospective jobs against this list. Decide if or where you can be flexible if some of the careers you’re keen on can’t deliver all your essentials

5. Choose great traveling companions

Assemble your career change cheer squad. Ask a friend who knows you well to be your cheerleader. Ideally, this is someone who will pause and chat about your career change ups and downs and celebrate new your discoveries. Aim for someone who’ll also help you dig yourself out when you get bogged down or give you a push when you’re spinning your wheels. Draw on the energy and advice of your personal and professional networks to stay sane, savvy and sanguine in challenging times. Support from the people who know and believe in you can buoy you up and keep you on track.

Alternatively, find a coach whose energy and experience align to your goals. A skilful career coach will prompt you to do some disciplined, structured work to firm up and pursue your path to positive change.


Take a short cut
Need a distilled version of these moves for quick reference? Here it is.

  • Give yourself permission to explore the remotely possible as well as the apparently perfect

  • Sift and shuffle your options until you’re happy you’ve found some worth exploring

  • Be brave enough to start conversations with lots of people in multiple work places including some unlikely and unexpected ones

  • Ask your personal and professional support team for their insights into who you are and how you tick

  • Trust yourself to recognise promising opportunities when they arise

Want to talk through your next career move? Book a free 20 minute chat.

By Jo Green, Career Coach

I know what it feels like to be lost in your career. I also know that when you find what you love, heart and soul, your life changes. I work every day with people who are reshaping their current careers, starting new enterprises or searching for a new direction. Basically I help people who don’t like their job to figure out what to do instead!

As a Careershifters and Firework Advanced Certified Coach and experienced career changer myself, I can help you figure out what fulfilling work looks like for you. 

Drop me a note to organise a free 20 minute consultation to chat about your career change and how coaching could help.