How to Test Out a New Career and Make the Right Decision
Updated: Jul 18, 2019
Rochelle had been doing marketing for for-profit organisations for many years, before getting the opportunity to move into marketing for membership-based businesses.
With her natural ability for marketing and her wealth of experience, Rochelle continued to perform well and enjoyed her new role. Recently, Rochelle was offered a fantastic opportunity that she just couldn’t pass up. And so she stepped up into the role of CEO for a membership-based organisation.
Unfortunately, Rochelle is now in over her head. She goes to work every day feeling like an imposter. She feels stuck, empty and is wondering when those around her will start to notice her failings in this new career too.
Have you ever jumped into a new role, and despite your enthusiasm, found it wasn’t what you expected?
Always test the waters first
It’s not surprising if you have. After all, research shows we’re not well equipped to make good predictions about how we’ll feel when doing something new.
That proves especially true when you haven’t taken some key steps to understand a new role better and mitigate any potential surprises.
Luckily, there’s a solution. When you’re facing an opportunity for a new career, or are even just contemplating the idea of one, I always recommend testing the waters before making a decision.
That way you are the most informed you can be about the realities of a role, rather than just basing your decision on your own assumptions.
One strategy for testing the waters is to have Prototype Conversations.
Have Prototype Conversations before deciding on a new career
According to Burnett and Evans, authors of Designing Your Life, talking to someone already living the life you want can be the best way to find out if what you believe is actually true.
To have a Prototype Conversation, you should connect with people already working in the job or industry you’re interested in and ask them to share their story over a coffee.
It’s an opportunity to find out what they do and don’t like about the position, what surprised them about it when they started, and how they actually found themselves getting there. You should focus as much as possible on the factors you believe will make the job enriching for you, while also be aware of the clues they provide to those factors that could deplete your energy.
Ask as many questions as you can and try to limit talking about yourself. Your stake in the discussion is to gather as much useful information as possible.
There will always be something that surprises you about a new career.
Why not test the waters first?
For more strategies on how to test the waters of a new career, look out for my upcoming release: So You’re Career Confused! WTF is Next?
 “Designing Your Life” by B. Burnett & D. Evans. Published by Vintage Digital, 2016.
Greg Weiss is Australia’s leading career coach. He is the author of “So You Got The Job! WTF Is Next?”. The book prescribes a proven, practical 7-step guideline for new employees so they succeed, rather than fail their probation periods and beyond. Find out more about the book at https://www.wtfisnext.wtf
He is the Founder and Director of Onboff an online training and coaching platform that helps HR specialists, coaches and recruiters to deliver exceptional onboarding and offboarding experiences for employees.
He also hosts The Keep: The Employee Experience podcast and runs CareerSupport365.