Career Clarity. What is it and how to get it?

You have been asking yourself the question, “What do I want to do when I grow up?” for quite some time now. Maybe you’ve even found yourself spinning in circles or feeling totally stuck with answering the question. If that feels like you, you’re not alone. According to Gallup Research, more than 85% of people feel disengaged by the work they do, which to us means they aren’t in the right role and maybe don’t know how to find a better fit.

So how do you find the right fit? When it comes to career clarity, we like to say it’s less about finding one clear answer and more about having a solid framework to un-muddle the mess.

And, the good news for you is that today we’re going to walk you through our exact framework so you can start to get a clear picture of how to get the clarity you’re looking for.

What is career clarity?

Career clarity is having a deep knowledge of not only who you are and what you care about, but also having a tactical understanding of where you want to go in your career, and why. There are several different aspects of career clarity, which we will get into below.

For now, what’s important to know is that it’s the intersection of all of these pieces of clarity that help individuals paint an authentic and focused picture of what boxes need to be checked  to produce the most ideal career path for them. 


Why is career clarity important?

Career clarity is essential for navigating an intentional career journey and ensuring that you find career opportunities aligned with what you truly care about. Over the course of our lifetime, we dedicate roughly 90,000 hours to work. That's a significant amount of time to not experience fulfillment, engagement, and excitement in our work, or to fail to achieve the impact we desire in the world.


What are the benefits of having career clarity?

Ok, now you know what career clarity is and why it’s important. But, let’s paint the picture even more. What are the tangible benefits you’ll see from putting in the effort?

The very good news is that when you gain career clarity it makes every single step in a job search or career transition process much easier, and it also makes it much more likely that you’ll end up landing your ideal role, not just any role.

Here are just a few of the ways to leverage your clarity and improve your career outcomes.

  • Saving time spinning your wheels or feeling stuck in how to move forward
  • Knowing where to focus your energy and efforts in your job search
  • More genuine and authentic networking and informational interviewing
  • A clear personal brand positioned to attract aligned opportunities
  • Avoiding shiny objects in your job search that aren’t actually what you want
  • More clearly and confidently expressing your fit to land the roles you desire
  • Improving your negotiation outcomes for the things you care about

 

Why do people get stuck when trying to gain career clarity?

One of the biggest sticking points in gaining career clarity is not realizing that there are actually two types of career clarity. You need both to confidently understand what you truly want out of your career, and what career paths will be the most aligned options for you, right now in your career journey.

It’s common for people to spend time self-reflecting, reading books, completing assessments, or even hiring career coaches, but then feel lost or confused when they don’t walk away with a clear answer to what they want to do with their lives. That’s because many clarity coaches or self-help books only teach one aspect of clarity and not the other, leaving people stuck without a clear path forward.

Let’s talk about both elements of clarity and how you can get them both.


How to get career clarity.

Getting the career clarity you want starts with having a solid framework. Let us walk you through ours. 

As we discussed before, you need both internal clarity (an understanding of who you are, what you care about, what lights you up, and the type of impact you want to make in the world) and external clarity (what’s most important to you in a role, company, function, and location). So you can understand not only where you want to go next in your career, but why you want to go there. 

Let’s explore both in more detail below.


The 3 elements of internal clarity.


There are 3 elements of internal clarity that build a deep foundation of authenticity. Internal clarity is understanding your core strengths, values, and interests and focusing on which of those are the highest priority right now in your career. Over the course of your life and career, it’s natural for these elements to change. When they do it often creates that feeling in your career that something isn’t quite right. That’s a good indication that it's time to come back to your internal clarity and see what is misaligned, so you can make the necessary adjustments that get you back to a fulfilling, engaging, impactful career. 

If you haven’t already, you can download our free guide to get clear on your unique strengths, values, and interests. Once you have a solid foundation of internal clarity, it’s now time to look externally at what’s important for your next career move.


The 4 buckets of external clarity.


When it comes to a career change, what we’ve found is that there are four different buckets of consideration.

Those four buckets are location, industry, company, and function. The location is the context of your environment that needs to be in place for you to thrive. The industry is the larger landscape that’s related to your work, think of finance, real estate, healthcare, education, or even a sub-segment of an industry like higher-ed. The company is the context of your work environment and culture, think of elements like brand, size, culture, values, and mission. And, the function is what you are doing in your day-to-day role, think project manager, program manager, marketing, or consulting. 

Getting clear on how you would prioritize the order of your buckets and why helps you focus your job search efforts on what’s most important to you.  Learn more about each of the four buckets and how to take the first step in gaining external clarity.


How to turn your clarity into aligned career paths.


Once you’ve explored both internal and external clarity and where they intersect, you can start to craft aligned career paths that are the most likely to be your ideal next career move. It doesn’t mean you’ll always walk away with 1 clear answer or some earth-shattering light bulb moment, because that’s not how the clarity process works and that’s not real life. There are many viable career paths that would align with your top priorities. So, it’s less about finding the one perfect answer and more about finding the right answer for right now.


Career clarity is a non-negotiable when it comes to leading an intentional career path, and we hope that the steps above help you start to get the clarity you’re looking for. 

If you’ve taken your clarity journey as far as you can on your own and you’re looking for more insights, you can download our free authenticity guide to gain internal clarity of your unique strengths, values, and interests today. 

And, if you’re ready to take it a step further, learn about our 7-day Career Clarity Kickstarter course to clarify your ideal career paths.