Advice & insights: masterclasses from industry leaders

Building a Fulfilling Career: Marlo Lyons Expert Strategies

Marlo Lyons

Marlo Lyons

Career Coach & Executive Strategist

Key Takeaways

  • Value-Based Career Identification: Discover your ideal career by aligning it with your core values and interests. Identify skills that fulfill these values to find roles that bring satisfaction and fulfillment.
  • Effective Career Exploration Tools: Utilize resources like the Bureau of Labor Statistics and the World Economic Forum to research potential careers, especially those emerging or evolving due to technological advancements like AI.
  • Strategic Career Transitioning: When switching careers, focus on tailoring your resume to highlight relevant skills and experiences for the new role, rather than a comprehensive list of past achievements.
  • Balancing Skill Development with Current Responsibilities: Manage your current job while skilling-up for a new career by setting realistic goals, celebrating small wins, and using resources like night classes or online courses.
  • Networking in New Industries: Approach networking with a listening-first mindset. Engage in conversations by asking insightful questions and showing genuine interest in others, rather than focusing solely on self-promotion.
  • Avoiding Common Pitfalls in Career Changes: Steer clear of career change traps by dreaming big and considering a wide range of possibilities. Ensure your new career choice aligns with your personal values and aspirations, rather than just transferring existing skills to a similar role.

How to Identify Your Ideal Career Path

How do you uncover the career you’re truly passionate about? In this enlightening Q&A, Marlo Lyons, a renowned career coach and strategist, delves into the art of identifying and pursuing your ideal career path. Marlo offers her wisdom on aligning your career with your core values, utilizing cutting-edge research tools, and navigating the complexities of career transitions. Her insights are crucial for anyone seeking to discover a career that not only utilizes their skills but also fulfills their personal aspirations and values. Marlo’s advice is a beacon for those in career limbo, providing practical steps and motivational guidance for embarking on a career journey that resonates deeply with their true self.

“Here are two of the big ones:

The secret to discovering what you really love doing is understanding your values. Your values are what is important to you. Once you understand your values and define your values – you can understand what skills you have that can be used to fulfill your values. Focusing on those skills which fulfill your values will ensure fulfillment in your career. 

For example, if you love cleaning, organizing, putting everything in its place, you may have a value of structure or organizing. Depending on how you define that value, aligned skills could be analyzing, organizing, critical thinking, problem solving, project management, labeling/coding, designing etc. Some jobs that will use those skills are Business Operations, Analyst (numerous kinds), Campaign organizer, Travel Agent, Project Manager, Program Manager, Business Process, Business Excellence, Process Improvement, Continuous improvement, Change Management, Business Transformation, etc.

From there you need to dig deep into each possible job and when you find the one that piques your interest to learn more and more (and you’ve talked to people in the career to ensure you know the true nature of the job), then you have found your new career that aligns with your values!”

“I ask clients three questions to get their minds thinking about their values:

  • “What do you love doing/what gives you energy?”
  • “What environment do you thrive in?”  
  • “What kind of interactions do you like having?”

So many times, we repress what we really love doing for higher pay, higher title, or the job that the company tapped us on the shoulder for because the company knows you can do it and will receive value from you in the position.”

“I wish more candidates would ask, “Can you describe the company culture and team dynamics?” This question signals that the candidate is not only interested in the role but also in the broader work environment. It provides insight into whether the candidate’s working style aligns with the company culture and if they will thrive in the team dynamics.”

“Once you have translated your values into skills – try these two sites: 

The Bureau of Labor Statistics has every single job on the planet (minus a few). Review it line by line for careers that you may have never heard of that may be interesting.

The World Economic Forum will give you career and skills facts, including, what skills will be needed in the future, careers which are growing the most from year to year and the careers that will disappearing because of Artificial Intelligence.”

“People should be aware of which careers will be disappearing because of AI. The World Economic Forum’s The Future of Jobs Report provides updates and reports on AI impacts on careers and jobs.

The gig economy has seen an uprise, which is clear by the number of platforms dedicated to gig workers, such as Toptal which connects businesses to top freelancers, Upstack which connects businesses to software developers for remote work and Writer access which connects businesses to content creators and UpCounsel which does the same for lawyers. These are just a few. I don’t see gig work replacing full time employees though – and in fact some states like California have further delineated how companies use freelance talent. The good news is, if you are looking to transition careers, working on your new craft as a side hustle through platforms such as Upwork, Freelancer or Fiverr, could help you gain some practical experience as well as network to transition to a full-time job in the new career easier.”

Career Change Strategies: Planning and Developing New Skills

“If someone knows exactly what they want to do, they need to draft their resume through the lens of the new career. The person transitioning careers needs to “be” the new job, not “want to be” the new career. That means someone is an instructional designer, not seeking to be an instructional designer. 

The biggest mistake people make is drafting their resume with everything they have accomplished in previous careers and hope to transition that work to a new career. But not all work and accomplishments from previous careers will be relevant to the new career. So, it is critical to only include the skills, capabilities and experience which are relevant to the new job. You will know if they are relevant by looking at job descriptions for the new career. Sometimes the relevant information is only 1% of your previous jobs, but that 1% is all that goes on your new resume.”

“The most important trick for networking is to do less talking and to do more listening. Ask good questions. Let someone else talk! When people talk about themselves or their careers, they feel like they had an enjoyable conversation. Therefore, while you should have your “pitch” ready about who you are (remember to “be” the new career), focus on the other person. That will take the pressure off you selling yourself. If you are asked a question, answer it, and then ask another question.”

“They forget to dream. Dreaming is hard when you are an adult! Nearly everyone I talk to tells me they hate their job or career, and they know they “can” do A, B, C or “can transfer their skills” to a specific career or they are looking at jobs and know they can do so many different things. Then I ask them, “But what do you want to do?” And they freeze, looking at me like I have three heads. No one thinks about what they genuinely want to do. So don’t transition careers until you understand your values and dream about all the potential career possibilities without limitations. You’d be surprised how you can transfer your skills to careers you’ve never even thought of that could fulfill you!”

Tips for Navigating New Industries

“A career portfolio is a meaningful way to show tangible examples of your work to potential future employers or clients. Your career portfolio should consist of proof of your skills through specific samples, certification & licensure proof, awards, testimonials, reviews, etc. For industries such as writing, graphic design, software development, photography, etc these are absolutely crucial to have on hand as proof of your skillset and potential impact.”

Interviewing in a new field can be intimidating. How can someone best prepare for this?

“First, remember to “be” the new career. You are not transitioning to a new career. You will focus your entire interview on skills and capabilities that are used in the new career.

Answer the common interview questions on paper such as:

  • Tell me about yourself? This is a question about you – not your resume. What is the theme throughout your life and how does that relate to the new career and job description? 
  • Can you walk me through your resume? This should include the top skills gained in each job that are relevant to the job description, and how you transitioned from one company to the next. Were you poached? Did you apply? Did a recruiter find you?
  • Tell me about a time when…? Prepare five stories about experiences and work that directly relate to the new career such as a time you solved a problem, a time you had to align stakeholders, a time you had to influence a decision, a time when you made a recommendation and it wasn’t followed etc. Look at the job description to determine what areas you need to focus on in your stories and make sure you include both hard and soft skills

And remember to answer every question in under two minutes. You don’t want to appear to be rambling or unfocused.”

“A career transition is an investment in you. If you don’t already have a household budget, build one to determine the bare minimum you need to live (not just survive). Keep in mind – your salary may not go down transitioning career. I went from being an entertainment lawyer to an HR Business Partner in tech and made 80K more a year. So, don’t assume that your career transition will mean a step back in salary. 

But career transitions are not easy. Decide whether you would rather spend your money on the daily Starbucks, the donut, the lunch out, the new pair of shoes, which all give you momentarily happiness or invest in your long-term fulfillment? Consider eliminating everything isn’t going to help you feel fulfilled long term and invest in resources that will help you make a seamless transition – whether that is a career coach, a video program, or a subscription to Harvard Business Review etc.”

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