What to do when the economy kills the career

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imageContributing blogger John Long is a professional career coach and consultant in Atlanta who founded Two Roads Resources. He blogs at Atlanta Career Coach.

Q: As a result of the downturn in the economy, my career in real estate sales has lost momentum. I put so much time and energy into developing this career, but now I feel as if I’ve gone down a dead end road. What are my options?

A: Sometimes we decide to make a change in our career path and sometimes life makes the decision for us. You are in a licensed profession that has grown in popularity for many years, but now the real estate sector is at a standstill. My answer to the question of “Now what do I do?” centers on gathering information and identifying your options. We’ve always got options.

First, take inventory of your full scope of skills, strengths and areas of expertise. This requires you to see yourself as being so much more than that title on the business card. This is a simple yet powerful self-assessment exercise that can open your eyes to possibilities. Let’s try it.

What skill set have you acquired and honed as progressing through jobs and during the course of your real estate career? Professionally speaking, what do you do well? Do others seek your guidance and input? Do supervisors give you key assignments?

A partial list of your skills and strengths might look something like this:

Speaking effectively
Listening attentively with concern and empathy
Providing appropriate feedback
Negotiating and persuading
Perceiving nonverbal messages
Gathering and reporting information
Identifying obstacles and potential solutions
Defining needs and options
Analyzing data and trends
Developing evaluation strategies
Building confidence, trust and rapport
Being a source of support and motivation
Representing the needs of others
Consultative sales
Editing and finalizing highly technical documents/contracts
Understanding and adhering to regulatory and legal guidelines
Managing projects with attention to detail
The ability to work under pressure and accept responsibility
Setting and meeting deadlines

In the past, you may have been looking at your skills through a zoom lens and telling others that you represent clients in the sale of condos, townhomes and single-family homes. Now widen the lens so you can see strengths that are valued in a variety of careers.

Let’s add to this skills and strengths data by gathering vital information on your interests, work style and personality, and the factors you would value most in a new opportunity. These are the building blocks of career options.

Be careful not to stereotype careers as you’re exploring options. Don’t dismiss an occupational title based on assumptions and hearsay or narrow-minded thinking — that career isn’t prestigious, they don’t make enough money, they only value young people in that field, that’s a creative job but not very practical.

A client of mine enjoyed a successful career in real estate, but now is in an executive-level position in business development and admissions for a prestigious healthcare facility. That didn’t happen by dismissing out-of-the-box options.

Do some homework and weigh the pros and cons. Take time to explore and determine what a career title is all about. Consider how your skills, values, personality and interests compare to others serving in that role.

After a decision is made on a few viable options, it’s time to consider other key factors, including rebranding yourself, acquiring new credentials, networking and aligning yourself to professional groups in this newly chosen field.

Remember that you don’t have to go it alone. Seek out objective feedback and creative thinking from colleagues, mentors, counselors and coaches.

Here are a few sites with helpful information:

Transferable Skills List from CSU-Chico
Career Stereotypes by Cathy Goodwin
Complete the “VIA Character Strengths Questionnaire”

Have a question you’d like John to answer here? {encode=”[email protected]” title=”Email us.”} Subject: Career Coach.

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