Hack Your Career: Here’s How

Hackathon

I’ve just read Harvard Business Review’s “Hackathons Aren’t Just for Coders“. Everyone should have the opportunity to let their creative juices flow — in an environment where ideas are considered and taken seriously. Hackathons bring together people and ideas. A rare event in today’s world.

Interestingly, there is another area where a little “hacking” needs to occur: our own career journey. We devote little time to consider work-life “tangents” or non-traditional paths. However, when you sit back to examine what you bring to the table in terms of knowledge, skills and abilities — there could be a number of new avenues you could explore

You may not see all of those paths. So, a method to find them is vital.

Here’s is the rub. On reflection, I’ve met many people who have done something like this successfully. The new paths they pursued were not always radical — however, the changes were vital to work life happiness. In a sense, they threw their skills and hopes into the “blender of career life” and concocted something better suited to their true career identity. (I’ve chatted with a medical assistant that needed to lose “practice politics” and then became a masseuse. I’ve met a happy small town doctor that once found herself in a large, “city” practice.  A nurse with aspirations to use her love of exploration and connection, to become a travel writer.)

SONY DSC

The Career Life Blender

They all embraced one fundamental strategy. They were open to a change that suited who they were, at they very moment. Their evolution (and yes, they were very uncomfortable) demanded a career response.

They “hacked” their career.

But, we don’t have to reach the ends of our rope, to do so.

Here is some advice to hack yours:

  • Don’t listen to you. For a period of time, set aside all of the reasons why a career hack cannot happen. Turn off that inner “naysayer”. Tell it to be absolutely quiet. Only listen to the possibilities
  • Ask the experts. And a I don’t mean career experts. Talk to 5 people who have knowledge of your workplace strengths. Ask them the following: Where do I excel? Do you think my current role accesses those attributes? Where do you see me job-wise? Why? Note their feedback and observe any trends. Get a real read on you.
  • Consider only the facts. When have you been the most productive or successful? When did you feel that your work life was on track? How would you describe that work life experience? What made you feel positive about that experience? What factors played a role?
  • Embrace possibilities. You can’t adjust your path if you don’t imagine your future self. Whether it is a  small pivot in your current role or an entirely different path — imagine yourself there. What do you see? What steps must you take to make your future career a reality? Take that first step.

Have you hacked your career journey? Share your story.

Dr. Marla Gottschalk is an Industrial/Organizational Psychologist.  She is the Director of Organizational Development at Allied Talent. She is a charter member of the LinkedIn Influencer Program. Her posts on workplace topics have appeared in Forbes, The Huffington Post, US News & World Report and The World Economic Forum.

4 thoughts on “Hack Your Career: Here’s How

  1. Good article; I’ve been thinking along similar lines for some time. I know exactly what I want to do and have seen other people doing it throughout my career. The catch is none of those people were directly hired into that role, they morphed into it at a company due to their own initiative. Thanks for clarifying some tangible processes on figuring out how to get there.

  2. Well I quit my job cause I was sure I would be able to find a new one with more growth possibilities according to my previous experience and both degrees in Industrial Engineering and Business Administration … but is not that easy … i’ve been in a job haunting for too long … don’t want just a random job but sometimes i think thats what I have to do in the midtime knowing i can do more.

  3. I always appreciate your perspective on work choices and pathways, Marla. Your tips on identifying and listening to reliable indicators were similar to the approach I took to leaving a stifling, but well-paid office job for work with a friend starting up a nano-scale educational resources company. We might even become self-sustaining this year, after 3 years of totally worth-it efforts.

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