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Start your career orientation with an evaluation of your work history

Whether your question is: should I or shouldn’t I continue in academia? Or: I want to leave academia, but don’t know which way I want to go. In either case, it may help to start your career orientation with an evaluation of your work history.

In this exercise, you will not only reflect on your current job, but also look back on past work, hobbies, side jobs, volunteering and projects. You will zoom out and discover how you look back on all the things you did in the past.

Print your CV

First, Print your CV and put it in front of you. See if all major relevant activities are listed. Are there any side jobs, courses, hobbies or voluntary activities you enjoyed doing that are now missing? If so, add them.

Consider whether there are pages you can leave out. It is probably not necessary to review every publication, as you want to focus on the overarching project.

Now give your jobs, courses and other activities grades (1-10) based on how you currently rate them. Determine your rating for each job, training and activity.

What do these grades tell?

Look again at the different grades you have given. What stands out to you? Are you surprised by anything? What pattern can be discerned?

For each course and job, write down in keywords why you came to this judgement. What does it have to do with? With your interests/work environment/colleagues/values/leaders/activities/energisers or takers?

Go through all the keywords and mark with two-colour marker whether it is a positive or negative aspect.

Image: Jessica Lewis

What’s your view on your current job?

How did you rate your current job compared to the rest? How do you feel about it?

List for yourself what, for you, are the pluses and minuses of your current job. Write them down in two rows side by side.

What is prevailing? The pluses or the minuses?

Making an overview

Make an overview of the pluses and minuses you have given.

They indicate what you want to continue with (the pluses) and what you no longer want (the minuses).

This will probably yield two lists of values, circumstances, conditions, activities and manners that are important to you. You may be quick to think: the ideal job does not exist, so what good is such a list? These lists largely determine whether you feel at home and energised by your work. Whether all your needs will be met 100% in a new job is indeed questionable, but your pluses and minuses indicate that there is work to be done. They point you in a (new) direction.

Finally, maybe you have realised you want to get out of academia and wonder: where to go from here?

For the short term: while doing this exercise, have you come across activities that you would actually like to do more often? That’s a first starting point. My question to you: what can you change right now to undertake this activity more often?

An evaluation of your work history is an ideal starting point to further identify your own values. You can do that using this exercise.

Did you find this exercise difficult? Are you stuck with your search? It is often helpfull if someone asks you the questions and asks further questions after you have given your answers.