(3-minute read)

This month, we thank Karen Brown, Vice President Development & Philanthropic Services at Fairfield County’s Community Foundation for suggesting this month’s topic of how to assess career risks and get to what is next.

Over the past six months, we’ve lived and worked under extraordinary circumstances.

While working from home, we’ve figured out how to manage the collision of our personal life and career.

We’ve adapted quickly.

And we’re becoming accustomed to making decisions with uncertain outcomes.

We’ve learned a lot and grown a lot.

Despite incredible complexities, our new reality is beginning to take on the characteristics of a routine. But before getting too comfortable in this new routine, it’s a good time to reflect on your willingness to take risks, adapt and incorporate what you’ve learned about yourself into planning the next step in your career.

We all have different levels of risk tolerance. Lately, you’ve probably tested the limit of that tolerance. To better clarify the career risk you’re willing to assume, consider your answers to these five prompts.


Assessing My Risk Tolerance

1) When faced with something new, I…

2) When the outcome is uncertain, I am most comfortable
a) Exploring multiple paths
b) Quickly choosing a path and moving toward that outcome
c) Not changing anything

3) The most significant risk I’ve ever taken in my career is…

4) Over the last six months, the most significant risk I’ve taken in my career is….

5) One year from today, I envision myself doing….

Your answers will help determine how you act and your comfort level when confronted with uncertainty and risk. For moving your career ahead, view your risk tolerance as a yardstick for evaluating options and opportunities.


Next Step Career Planning

1) What are my transferable skills?
Whether you are advancing on your current path or transitioning to a new one, employers want to see demonstrated competence in these areas
a) Teamwork
b) Leadership
c) Organizational/Time Management
d) Communication- written and verbal
e) Analysis
f) Ability to adapt

2) What are my best stories to support these skills?
“People forget facts, but they remember stories.” Author Joseph Campbell was spot on with this advice. For interviews and networking conversations, have stories and examples ready to support your transferable skills. Practice these in advance to keep your narrative clear and short.

3) Where are my gaps?
Your examples and stories will reveal the gaps in your skillset. Prioritize which areas you’d like to improve and allocate time for learning.

4) What can I learn?
There are lots of ways to close a skillset gap. Online learning has exploded. There is a flood of opportunities. Determine if a class, a certificate or pursuing a degree is the best course and research the options and costs. Sign up for online conferences and learn from experts. You can learn from others’ experiences by finding a mentor who works in your area of interest. If you have the time and flexibility, consider becoming a volunteer or interning virtually to increase your knowledge base.

5) Who is in my network?
Your network will give you great advice and connect you with resources and opportunities. In July, I wrote about how to “Recommit to Networking.” The folks at Almanac took that post and created a networking checklist you can access here >>

As reorganizations accelerate and we approach 2021, prepare for new opportunities. Ask yourself three guiding questions-

1) Is this a good time, personally and professionally, to explore this opportunity?

2) Am I able to devote the time needed to be successful?

3) If I pursue this, does it help, hurt or not affect what I envision I’ll be doing a year from now?

Many things have changed in a short period, including individuals’ willingness to experiment and explore. Now is the time to assess your level of acceptable career risk and proactively attend to your career plan.

Having a plan for what’s next in your career offers security and direction in uncertain times.
And just maybe, you’ll sleep better.


Be Well and Stay Safe

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You’ll get advice about your career and on leadership the first Tuesday of every month.

Thanks for Reading

If there is a topic you want to explore, send me Email and we’ll cover it in 2020.