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Use Them, Don’t Abuse Them: Brainstorm Career Ideas With Your Career Dream Team

Use Them, Don’t Abuse Them: Brainstorm Career Ideas With Your Career Dream Team
Use Them, Don’t Abuse Them: Brainstorm Career Ideas With Your Career Dream Team

As we mentioned last month in our Examiner series, only 30% of workers in the US are engaged and inspired at work (Gallup 2013 State of the American Workplace Report.) It’s no wonder this is an issue because when career seekers attempt to brainstorm career ideas, they end up frustrated and overwhelmed. There is no one website out there that lists all of the types of career paths available, and no career assessment that can give you the magic answer to the right fit. It takes time and effort to identify your ideal career path, changing careers is scary because it involves taking risks related to our paycheck and as a result, it can be daunting for people wanting to make a change to find that fulfillment.

The good news is there are ways to effectively and efficiently brainstorm career ideas. We talked in our last Examiner article about how to brainstorm career ideas online. Here we will discuss how to use friends, family, former co-workers even, to think creatively about possible career ideas for you. (To learn more about brainstorming career ideas online, watch this video: 4 ways to brainstorm career ideas.)

  • Set up your dream team – Identify 3-5 people (friends, family, current or former co-workers – obviously if you use current co-workers be sure you can trust them to keep it confidential) in your circle of connections who can and would be willing to brainstorm ideas with you. They can be in person as a group, over the phone on a conference call, or you can talk with each them individually. One of our clients David in Atlanta invited 5 friends over for pizza on a Saturday night. They spent an hour socializing but also brainstorming ideas on a whiteboard at Dave’s home. After this session he ended up with 15 new ideas to add to his list.
  • Get organized and set up meetings – Set up one meeting, or several meetings, with each member of your dream team. Write down your list of current career ideas to share with them and questions you want to ask them to help you generate ideas. Determine a time frame and share it with them – don’t abuse their time. Decide how you will record their ideas.
  • Anything goes – In a true brainstorming session, anything goes. Don’t edit your thoughts or theirs, record everything because you never know when one idea will lead to another.
  • Be respectful - And obviously don’t discount anything your contacts say. Build on their ideas. Don’t argue with them (this is part of choosing the right people to help you, those who will be supportive and open as opposed to pushy), and show appreciation for their time.
  • Ask for connections – At the end of your time with them, ask them if they have any connections in the fields you’ve identified together. If you’re still uncertain about your direction, which is understandable at this beginning phase of the process when brainstorming usually occurs, hold off on contacting their connections. But, write them down for later in order to conduct informational interviews with them.

In this second step of your research (the first being completing online research), the key is to stay organized. Keep track of the ideas you generate by using this Excel spreadsheet to help you remain organized in your search! Sample Job Search Excel Sheet: