Resources for Career Brainstorming

It’s Monday, so I’m guessing you’re as braindead as I am. But when you’re job hunting or career planning, you still need to be working on your career, even when you don’t feel like it. So it’s a good day to take on something easy, like brainstorming. Brainstorming is a good way to make use of your time on days when you’re feeling sluggish or caffeine-dependent.  Like, say, Mondays.

How Brainstorming Can Benefit Your Career

Career brainstorming can help you no matter what career stage you’re in. When you’re looking for your first job or considering a career change, brainstorming can uncover new job families to explore. And when you’re in a career but feeling stuck at your current level, it can help you find professional development options you might need to consider in order to advance. Or when you’ve found a job you’d like to apply for, it can help you figure out how to identify and describe your transferable skills on your resume.

Let’s take a look at some of my favorite career brainstorming tools.

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Beware Career Guidance that Doesn’t Suit You

I was talking with ranting to my husband last night about this recent report from Georgetown University’s Center on Education and the Workforce: Women Can’t Win: Despite Making Educational Gains and Pursuing High-Wage Majors, Women Still Earn Less than Men.

It is absolutely maddening that women with advanced degrees continue to earn less than men with only a Bachelor’s degree, particularly since women outnumber men in many fields. The report points out a number of factors at play, most of which I’m betting you can guess. Women are concentrated in lower-paying fields, such as teaching. But women who pursue higher-paying professions (e.g., engineering) are more likely than men to go into lower-paying areas within those professions (e.g., environmental engineering as opposed to petroleum engineering).

There’s this incredibly depressing finding from the report:

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A Job that Works Can Stop Working

Sometimes things just drift.

When my museum career came to a screeching halt a few years back during the recession (and my first pregnancy), I made a very calculated and deliberate decision to come back to higher ed as my workplace of choice. A decision that came after a lot of processing of my feelings about my career and my work, and a lot of soul searching and reflection. If I had been able to be honest with myself (instead of clouded mind after having been laid off), I would have been able to say, “You know what? We’re just not suitable for each other anymore. It’s time to move on” to the museum profession.

I wish I had known this a long time ago, but just in case you don’t, a piece of advice.

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Why I needed a backup plan

When you got your degree, did you get it knowing what kind of work you would do?

This is how a lot of people end up with a graduate or professional degree. To be a teacher, you’ll need your ed degree; if you want to be a doctor, you’ll need med school; and to be a college professor, you’ll need a terminal degree in your field.

Lots of people get an advanced degree for other reasons. Maybe you needed to learn all that you could about a particular subject. Or maybe you were getting nowhere with your job hunt because you had only a Bachelor’s – and so you decided to tack on another degree, deciding to figure out the career stuff later. (That would be me, if you’re wondering).

No matter how you ended up with an advanced degree, or what you envisioned doing with it, you need a backup plan.

Your backup plan may take a couple of tries, too.

I know, because I found that out the hard way.

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