Career Transition – The Inside Job: The Three Career Questions You Must Answer…More Than Once.

Bruce HazenBruce Hazen, MS
Three Questions Consulting | 503-280-0151

The Inside Job: The Three Career Questions You Must Answer…More Than Once. By Bruce Hazen, MS

When new clients see my business card and business name (Three Questions Consulting), they often say something like, “OK, I’ll bite. What are the three questions?” And then a really interesting conversation often starts. That’s because there really are three questions that form the basis of what I do as a career coach and what we all do in our earnest attempts to manage our careers. These three questions are like an internal guidance system that helps you be aware of whether you’re on track with your career strategy or just letting it drift.

Here are the three questions:

1. When is it time to move up?

(…in an organization, job or profession where you really like the work and want to progress)

2. When is it time to move out?

(when the work or the boss or the organization is no longer a good fit with who you are becoming)

3. When is it time to adapt your style?

(when you like your work and the organization, but you’re not getting the success you want and it’s not everyone else’s fault, it’s mostly yours)

We all have to answer these questions and we have to answer them multiple times over the course of our careers. This isn’t because we got it wrong the last time. It’s because we constantly evolve as workers and the marketplace continuously evolves to have a different set of demands and needs. The result is that we have to adapt our style or move out to new work or a new boss that fits us better. Alternatively, we need to move up to a higher level of complexity and responsibility to feel satisfied and make the contribution that fits our level of expertise and insight.

“You mean it’s that simple? Three questions and we’ve got it?” Yea, if only. The fact is, the questions are compelling and crucial, but it usually takes a thought partner or trusted other to help you create a dialogue about each of the questions and extract value out of the process of considering each of them, out loud.

My advice: get S.C.A.R.E.D. (Someone Capable And Ready to Express Disappointment). As you consider the three questions and develop a next-action strategy, you need someone to hold you accountable to those actions you say you will take. This is not someone who is negative or critical. This is a person with whom you can talk about the career questions, your feelings and the intentions you have about what should happen next.

This S.C.A.R.E.D. person is committed to your career development and won’t let you slack off. They’ll let you know when your career actions and results are disappointing. They’re not giving tough feedback to be mean. They’re being boldly honest about the fact that you’re not doing what you committed to do on behalf of your career.

A S.C.A.R.E.D. person is most often not the person closest to you; Mom, partner, boss, soccer coach, hairstylist, golf buddy, yoga instructor, lawyer, etc. These people have a vested interest in seeing you in a certain way and having a certain relationship with you. They may try to be supportive of everything you say or do (thanks, but no thanks, hairstylist) or skeptical of most everything (thanks, but no thanks, Dad). My suggestion is to take a risk and open up with someone who can be more objective i.e. work colleague, career or management coach, instructor who is teaching a course you’re taking or spiritual advisor that has some worldly experience from the workplace.

In future blogs, I’ll consider each of the three questions and provoke you with some thoughts about what they mean for career management. In the meantime, get S.C.A.R.E.D.

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