Staying on Track: Keeping Your Dream Job in Sight

These days when I talk to friends and clients who have a job, not only are they worried about keeping that job, but they worry about staying on their self-determined career track. Is staying in a job an extra year or two going to delay reaching their dream job? Not necessarily. I understand why they are worried, though. I aspired to becoming a career counselor when a chronic illness sidelined that dream. As they say, life is what happens when you are busy making plans. And as it turned out, my career life has been pretty good, although not what I had expected. My dream job ultimately landed in my life a whole lot sooner than I had expected with a whole lot of new challenges; I expected to be writing and consulting about careers after retiring from college career counseling. I am doing that now, almost two decades before I am eligible to retire.

I think the lesson here is that whatever your colleagues and bosses may tell you, there isn’t just one path to your dream job; there could be many. I am always looking for career tools to empower and help the people I talk to about careers. Monster is running a Beta version of  its Career Mapping tool. It’s kind of like a cognitive map where you write a main idea in the middle and other ideas around it with arrows to show how the ideas are connected. Your starting point on the career map is on the right at the search box. (I am purposely not giving you the URL yet. Read this first before you try it.) Put in the title of your dream job and hit search. You probably will get a map with a career in the middle that does not seem to related at all to your dream job. I did. I searched career counselor, and the map came up with HR. But stay with it, this career mapping thing gets better. Click on the map circles to see related careers within that middle career and sample paths. You can see where others in your field started and have been, career steps on a sample path, you can build and save your own career paths, and you can search for open jobs related to each step.

The lines on the map are different thicknesses and colors to indicate your chosen path and paths that have been commonly followed. Remember, a commonly followed path doesn’t necessarily mean that’s the right one for you. Economic and family issues can dictate that you take one of the alternate routes for now.

What is Valuable

One of the harder to find areas on the Career Mapping page is a link labeled “More details” in purple at the bottom of the box where you searched for your dream job. Your job title and Bureau of Labor Statistics information is listed. Beneath that, click on “More details” to get to a page with your job title, a summary of what that job entails and then responses people in that job have given to a series of questions. This section will become more valuable as more professionals log on and leave answers to these questions. But for right now, the questions themselves are what is valuable because these are questions you should be asking while navigating your career path. Some of them include “How did you get into this job,” “What is your typical day like,” “What advice would you give me,” and others that you can read when you browse the Career Mapping site. (Nope, no URL yet!)

I bet you did not believe me above when I said there is more than one path to your dream job, yet the Career Map illustrates that for you, even moving the map to a different, but related field as you navigate, as happened to me when I followed a less commonly used Admissions path, and the map moved to education.

The Bureau of Labor Statistics is a huge, comprehensive site for career exploration, but you can get lost in this site and never find what you really need. Monster’s Career Mapping gathers the information for your dream job on one page and lets you explore related careers.

What Needs Work

The “Go” button is a pretty basic starting point, right? But it takes you to a page with a box strewn with careers and more boxes and more boxes. I get that this is what most people who visit this page are feeling like as in, “I don’t know where to start.” But make it easier. Sheesh!!! There is a printed tutorial at the bottom which should be moved to the top. The search box that really gets you started should be highlighted in neon colors or something. There are up/down, left/right arrow schematics at the upper left of the page, but navigation can feel clunky. I could not get back to the original HR Career Map, so if all else fails, redo your original search to go back to the beginning of your path.

Want to Try Career Mapping?

OK, so now it’s your turn. Do you want to try this? Good! It’s not the easiest career tool to use, but I think you will get some useful information. Click here to try Monster’s Career Mapping site.


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