WORKING LIVES - CAREER MOT

I am interested in receiving some advice about my next career move. I am currently a policy adviser for a professional body and feel my options for career progression are limited. I have a teaching certificate, a higher degree and professional healthcare qualifications. Any advice would be gratefully received.

Jan Sobieraj says

In an expanding NHS there will be posts with your name on. Being clear about where you want to take your life, what your skills are and how they compare with other posts are prerequisites to any well-managed career.

Whether you have limited options depends on where you see your career going and what skills and experience you think you need. People often see themselves at a fork in the road of their careers, but in reality career management is a bit more like travelling on the London Underground, with many different destinations and routes. To manage your career you need to have a clear idea of where you want to be in the future.

Many techniques are available to help you. You could try writing down how you spend an average 24 hours (divided into sleep, travel, home, leisure, meetings, report-writing, research, presentations etc) then develop an 'ideal' 24 hours for the future - say in five to 10 years' time.

It is useful to draw a timeline covering the past two to three years, showing highs and lows in all aspects of your life - when did you get a real buzz and feel energised and enthusiastic? And when did you feel disenfranchised, disappointed and lost?

Consolidate the highs to get an insight, then consider what type of role might incorporate your ideal aspect.

Evaluate your current skills, experience and qualifications and decide where your next moves are. These may be tangential and not directly upward. You might need help from a colleague or mentor to tease out your core skills. do not forget your transferable skills.

You will also need to persuade prospective employers of your strengths.

Compare your list of skills, competencies, qualifications and experience with those of a job you think you could do. Is it a good match? If not, how can you develop to fit the bill?

Finally, there is nothing like having a go. If you see a position you think you could fill and would enjoy, apply. If you do not get past the interview, make sure you get feedback. Then act on it.

Kate Gordon says

I would want to ask various other questions, not least what have you done and enjoyed in your career?

When you got your current job as a policy adviser, what ideas did you have for where you wanted your career to go after this job?

It is all too easy to think about what you want for your next job what you also need to think about is where you want your career to go.

When you have decided, it is much easier to identify the next steps needed in order to achieve that, and also what type of job to go for.

I would suggest the following process would be very useful in helping you identify your options: Do a skills inventory, identifying both your core and transferable skills. Going through this process should give you a clearer picture of what you have to offer and what potential options for the future are available. Start to identify what your options are and then review which ones you feel are most suited to you.

Next, score each option out of 10 (with 10 being the most perfect fit) and come up with the three most preferable options. Once you have at least three options, the element of choice will make you feel far more in control over your future.

What options feel best, and why?

Review your life goals and purpose, and map over these options. Do any of them become less important, change or drop out all together?

Which one do you want to do the most?

This may give you ideas about any further development you might want to do before moving jobs.

Finally, is there anything else you need to do to get that job? If there is, do it.