An Unconventional Guide for Career Changers – Why do You Work?

In this blog post I’m going to talk about career change. A hiring manager told me once that he asks every single potential employee an unconventional question during the interview: “What would you do all day if you had one hundred million Swiss Francs in the bank and would never have to work again?”

I did not like the part of the question with the money because people tend to hypothetically purchase expensive things, travel, lay on the beach or buy a company if such an enormous amount of money is in the game. This defeats the purpose of the question. My equivalent is: “What would you do all day if you did not have to work?”

This question goes into the direction of the WHY question as is asks you “Why do you work in the first place?”. I think it’s a very challenging question and most people are not able to authentically answer it.

You can learn more about the WHY-HOW-WHAT technique in the free Communication Excellence Workbook here.


What Would You Do All Day if You Did Not Have to Work?

In case you are in a career change, this question becomes more interesting, especially if you don’t know yet where the journey is taking you. If you are stuck with finding out what could excite you, ask yourself this question. “If I would earn 50% more than I do right now without having to be in a job all day to earn that money, what would I do with my day?”. Remember, laying on the beach may work for 2 weeks but then it gets boring.

What do you think could fulfill you the most? Who would you like to work with? What type of environment would you have to work in to feel great?


My Approach to Career Change

I recently had more and more coaching clients who don’t know what career direction to pursue. Sometimes they think they know, just to find out that they don’t after the second day in their new job. How can this happen after being pretty sure you chase the right direction?

I thought about this for quite a while and I think it’s due to a lack of experience or trial in the new field.

One of my newest coaching clients is also in a career change. I thought about the most effective way for him to find his new direction. I figured that the best approach for him is very similar to the one I use with all my coaching clients.

Generally, I teach and preach: “You get a job by talking to people”. The same thing applies to career change. “You get to know which direction to choose by talking to people”. If you want to know what it’s like to work in a specific profession, a company or an industry, you need to talk to the people at the source. These people are the ones who are exactly in the position you think you want to be in 2-3 years from now.

As an example, if you want to move into software development, you need to talk to the software developer that is now in the function that you want 2-3 years from now. This person can tell you everything about the job, the industry, how it’s like to be a software developer and answer all your questions based on experience. 


Asking the Right Questions

When you talk to the person who is currently in the role you want to have 2-3 years from now, you need to be well prepared and ask the right questions.

What would you need to know about this person? What do you need to know about the job?

Put together a large list with potential questions. The answers of these questions have to lead you to the goal of knowing if you want to pursue this path.


Adjusting Course

If you have 5 potential directions to choose from but don’t know which one is the best, choose the first one at the top in alphabetical order. If you can’t decide where to start, just decide to start. It does not matter where you start, it only matters that you do start somewhere.

Start talking to the types of people I mentioned before in this industry or profession. Ask them the questions and see where it takes you. If you feel like this direction is right for you, pursue it. If you feel uncertain, pick the next profession or industry and start talking to people in that field. Repeat until it feels right.

The great thing about this approach is that you can always adjust course without having done months of work or even started a job in a direction that just feels OK.


How do You Know if it Feels Good?

You just feel it. That’s why I use the word “feeling” so much in this article. You don’t think it’s the right way, you feel it. The feeling usually amplifies when you talk to somebody who is passionate about their work. Passion is contagious. 


The Strategy

Use this strategy until you find work that fulfills you: Start talking to people. If the direction feels right, great. If not, change course.


The Big Benefit of Talking to People

If you are changing career, you will most probably also be looking for work in the near future.

The great news is, if you talk to people in your desired field and build meaningful relationships along the way, you will eventually have a group of very supportive people at hand to help you with your job search. They will be able to introduce you to key decision makers, refer you to others in the industry and give you all the insider information you need to successfully transition your career.

You can find many of the best ways to build your network in my Ebook “Career Excellence Through Relationships”. You can download the free 1st chapter here.


I’m Lucky

I get to wake up every morning with a smile on my face because I love the work I do. I know that with every blog post, every webinar, every coaching client and every person that I talk to, I’m bringing people closer to their goals. I know that with every step that I take, I help people to move closer to the “AHA” moment so they understand the real value of building relationships and doing something for work that matters and that fulfills them. 

And once in a while I get to see people thrive in personal and career excellence because they stopped asking “What can I do next?” and “Should I change this on my CV?” and started deciding and taking action.

Nobody showed me a map and told me what to do next. I merely decided to take action and started doing.

If you have read this far, I encourage you to take action. Take the lead and start talking to people.