If you happen to be one of the 45% of US adults who are currently searching for, or plan to search for, a new job in the next 12 months, I’m begging you to take a moment before you submit that first application.
In the last several weeks, I’ve been getting way more questions about career transformation than usual, and at first I couldn’t figure out why. It started to make sense when I learned that for the past three years, the first Wednesday after New Year’s Day has been the highest job-search day of the year on Monster.com. In fact, that day is so big that it attracts 70% more searches than average! Apparently, once we return to work after the holiday break, it takes just two days for us to remember how much we hate our jobs.
Unfortunately, it takes more than two days to find a new one, so if you haven’t yet landed that dream job, I’m inviting you close those Monster, Glassdoor, and Hotjobs windows that you’ve opened in your browser and think about a few things before you resume your search.
If you’re like most people, you’ve begun your search by scrolling through listings on job sites looking for:
A) Jobs similar to the one you have now in some way (same company but different position, same position in a different company, etc.)
B) Jobs at employers or with titles that sound important (who doesn’t want to carry around Google business cards or be a VP of something?)
C) Jobs in cool locations (Brooklyn, Silicon Valley, Austin, etc.)
It’s a starting point, I suppose, but those searches overlook something important.
When it comes to a job search, before you know what to look for, you have to know why you’re looking.
The search you do has to solve the problem you have. And not just the symptoms of the problem…the actual root cause of your dissatisfaction.
I’m not sure there is a job search tool out there that helps us get to the heart of the issue…which boils down to this question.
What is the work you are here to do?
The question is not what you’re qualified to do. Or who will pay you the most. Or who has the coolest office space. Or the highest profile client base. The question is what are you called to do.
And to figure that out you need to be asking the right questions.
I’ve spent countless hours helping the women I coach think through questions like these and they’re some of the same ones I asked myself when I was starting both of my business ventures. Try a few of them on for size so you can see where they lead you:
- What problem do I see in the world that I want to solve (or be a part of solving)?
- Whom do I want to serve?
- What kind of people do I want to collaborate with?
- Whose work do I admire enough to emulate?
- What lights me up when I’m doing it?
- What makes my heart race when I think about it?
- What triggers insatiable curiosity in me?
- What could I do all day long?
- What breaks my heart when I see it?
- What effort would be worthy of my time and energy?
- What would make me proud to say, “I did that”?
The answers to these questions and others like them will start to paint a picture of the role you’re meant to play, of the contribution you could make, of what you’re really here to do.
The picture that emerges may not be clear at first…it may look more like an Impressionist painting that you’re standing too close to. The brushstrokes will be there, but they’ll make you use your imagination to get them to take shape. And once they do, the vision you have won’t necessarily align with a posted job on a website. You may need to bravely pitch a role to a prospective employer or get really creative and design it yourself.
It may take more time, blood, sweat and tears than you ever thought, but if you want to love your work and know for sure that it matters, then this is my advice.
Go where you can use your gifts to solve a problem that moves you.
You’ll know you’ve arrived when you can’t imagine doing anything else.
And that is where your job search will truly end.
If you’re in the midst of a career transformation and would like to explore how my coaching process can help, you may want to apply for a free strategy session with me. I’ve opened up some extra spots this week, but they’ll go fast, so grab one right away and then be sure to fill out the application that follows so I can make sure there’s a fit. If there is, I’ll confirm the call and we’ll see if we can get you on a faster path to doing the work you’re meant to do!
*A version of this post first appeared on this blog in January 2016.