Ready for a new job? The last quarter of the year is a very active hiring period for many companies -- and a great time to consider a new role. Before you start sending out your resume, it is helpful to begin with the end in mind. In other words, you are more likely to get what you really want if you actually know what you are seeking. Here is how to prioritize your needs and wants for a new career.
Start with the obvious -- what is bugging you about your current position? Although it is more strategic to start with outlining your ideal position, the reality is we all invest an inordinate amount of energy into thinking about what we don't like. So, you might as well list your dislikes about your current position.
Once you have that list, go through each one and give each a letter:
F. Fixable. This is an item that can be fixed in your current position. You may not want to actually address the specific problem -- but you can see that it can indeed be corrected with no job change. For example, "nobody here can get anything done correctly." There is a chance that truly nobody is capable of doing anything right, but more likely it is because you are a bit of a control freak and micromanage every project when you could train and delegate. This problem is not about your job, but about the way you are doing your job.
E. Expected. This is an item that is part of the role or industry you are in and is likely to be part of a similar role at a different company. For example, you hate networking events and attending tradeshows. If you are in sales in an industry where 50 percent of the year's revenue gets booked at the biggest conventions, this annoyance is a necessary evil of this profession.
C. Change Needed. This is an item that will likely disappear if you change jobs. For example, you provide customer service for products that have a higher than average failure rate for a company that never wants to refund money. Moving to a different company with better quality standards will shift your job in a more positive way and may give you more discretion as to how to solve problems.
The purpose of the list and labels is to get an objective picture of whether the grass really is greener somewhere else. It frequently happens that someone is driven to job search to get away from something -- only to find that the something shows up again in the next position. The key here is to be honest about the issues. As humans, we carry lots of mental baggage that often is not as significant when we look at it from a more objective viewpoint. If you can't change something you dislike, but everything else about the role is ideal, it becomes much easier to disregard that item as a necessary evil.
What are you drawn toward? Now that you have cleared away any unnecessary distractions you may have been running away from, it's time to outline your priorities. Write down all the factors that matter for you to be happy, successful and satisfied professionally. Recent career satisfaction research with close to 50,000 participants, conducted by Sokanu.com, a free online platform that helps to find your ideal career, showed surprising results. Many of the jobs with the highest satisfaction are not associated with six-figure salaries. And, some of the careers with the lowest rankings have a high earning potential.
Each of us has different motivators, so while being paid well is always a plus, it's often other stuff that drives us to make a change. The outline of what is ideal or targeted can now become your guide on how to assess the fit of potential roles. When you have tools to be more calculating about your options, your ability to find a great long-term match increases tremendously. Plus, you have the confidence that a potential new job really does line up with your needs. That alignment goes the distance much better than just an initial personality fit with an interviewer or the thrill of getting free in-house lunches.
Robin Reshwan is the founder of Collegial Services, a consulting and staffing firm that connects college students and business professionals with the organizations that hire them. She has interviewed, placed and hired thousands of people across a broad spectrum of companies and industries. She is a Careers contributor for USNews.com and her career tips and advice are used by universities, national clubs, associations and businesses. A Certified Professional Résumé Writer, Robin has been honored as a Professional Business Woman of the Year by the American Business Women's Association.
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