I took the road less travelled, but did it make a difference?
Navigating your career can be as difficult as finding your way through some of the world’s largest super highways (just google ‘Spaghetti Junction’). One minute you’re on a straight trajectory for ultimate success, and the next you are standing at the crossroads of 5 potential new opportunities, each with unique benefits and disadvantages.
Having been through this numerous times during my own career, I can’t help but think that I’m in a virtual reality version of the popular Robert Frost poem, The Road Not Taken. The poem symbolises how making a decision at a crossroad can impact your life. The speaker refers to either making, or having made, an impulse decision that results in success – a decision that, once made, you won’t be able to return.
How does this relate to my career?!
Good question! The tips below should help whether you’re in the early days of trying to work out what you want to do with your career, searching for that next step, or have just landed that big interview. I thought we could take a brief walk along your yellow-brick-career-road so we can find the path to your metaphorical Emerald City of Oz. All tips below come from lines within Frost’s The Road Not Taken and will give you some insight into making a decision that will make all the difference.
1. Find a bunch of opportunities that work best for YOU.
Two roads diverged in a yellow wood,
And sorry I could not travel both
And be one traveller, long I stood
The only person that knows you better than your family or best friend is yourself. Be sure to regularly check job boards (such as UTS CareerHub) and other job platforms (Seek) for new positions that you think fit what you want from your next career steps and hit favourite. Don’t put all of your eggs in one basket and apply for those positions you’re really excited by.
I have found that it is better to have a bunch of attractive opportunities to decide upon rather than one good and one bad. The last thing you want from your next pivot is to regret not taking an opportunity once you are in the new job – sometimes the same opportunity won’t come around again (but be sure to never give up!).
2. Don’t rush your decision and do your research!
Because it was grassy and wanted wear;
Though as for that the passing there
Had worn them really about the same,
It doesn’t matter how long it may take, be sure to exercise patience and find an opportunity that fits your wish list. This does ultimately come down to your individual situation, however the longer you can postpone a career move in order to find a more fitting path, the better. The criteria you should be looking for on your wish list include job location, brand-fit, company size and salary expectation.
Once you’ve secured your interview, be sure to see every opportunity to speak with potential employers as practice regardless of the outcome and that the expectation meets the brief. Over time, I’ve discovered that sometimes those positions that weren’t meant to be end up being a blessing in disguise and are just part of the journey!
3. Reflect on whether your decision has made a positive impact.
Two roads diverged in a wood, and I—
I took the one less travelled by,
And that has made all the difference.
In my own career experience I have found that despite making a decision that might not quite work out initially, you can soon be led to a new path that does. The most important part of moving forward is to reflect on your newly-made decision and decide if the path you’re currently on is working to benefit your personal development.
An old colleague once said to me ‘Work hard but make sure you have plenty of YOU time’ – these are words to live by! Grab a book, a cup of tea, or just find a quiet space so that you can recharge and assess where you’re at. By reflecting on your current position, you’ll be able to fine-tune your search and career goals based on what you really want.
All in all, I’ve always kept The Road Not Taken in mind when making key life decisions, and highly recommend you read the poem in full. I hope that the tips above help you in potentially narrowing down the path you take next, however if you still need help UTS Careers is here to assist with bookable Career Consultation sessions via CareerHub. You can also log in to CareerHub to start your journey toward finding the next career-fit for you (just click here and use your UTS login).
Featured image courtesy of Unsplash
Brett Neilson is the Systems Coordinator within the UTS Careers Team. His experience varies widely across the arts, events and tertiary education spaces with experience in systems, operations, digital marketing, business development and sales. Brett has a passion for helping people develop their skillset and reach key goals.