by Leslie Rothman
You want or need to change jobs. Even in a tight market, it is still possible to find good jobs. I have repeatedly heard job hunters say, “I don’t know what I want to be doing… I just know it isn’t this anymore!” or “The market is tight so I won’t be too picky. I’ll take anything, I just want to get in somewhere”.
Job searchers in this mode respond to any ads and postings, hoping that something will hit. In the absence of ads, they send resumes into companies without positions of interest identified, in the hopes that by remaining open, they won’t get ruled out of positions and someone else will figure out where they can make a contribution. Frustration with a lack of responses or unappealing offers are typically the result.This is an ineffective strategy for several reasons.
- By not defining what you want, you are asking the people who do the hiring to figure it out for you, to direct your resume where they think it should go. Typically the person reviewing the resume will do one of two things, 1) assume you want to do the same work you did in your previous jobs and if that can’t be easily figured out – because you’ve had a variety of positions 2) pass the resume over because they don’t have the time or the inclination to figure it out. That’s your job!
- An unfocused strategy becomes overwhelming. You don’t know where to put your time and energy. It doesn’t help you target organizations or identify people to network with. Job hunting is about marketing yourself. Good marketers strategically identify their target markets and sell the benefits of their products. It is much more effective to present yourself and your experiences in a tailored fashion, emphasizing the skills and assets you have that are best suited to a specific type of work.
- Finally, and probably most important, just “getting any job” isn’t all that you want. You have criteria in mind – you want a “good” job.
How Do You Get Focused?
You can begin by defining what a “good” job means to you. Get beyond the dollar amount you want to earn. That’s important but what else makes a job good to you?
UNDERSTAND YOUR DIS-SATISFIERS
Start by understanding where your dissatisfaction is coming from in your current (or past) situations. Compile a list of things you dislike about your current and past positions.
- issues with your boss or coworkers
- the company or industry
- type of tasks/responsibilities
- meaningfulness of the work
Dig below the surface here. Approximately how much of your time do you spend on each task you don’t like? Do these tasks draw on skills that are not your strengths? Write it all down and look for patterns.
This list becomes your list of things to avoid or minimize in your next job.
TAKE STOCK OF YOURSELF
Next spend time taking stock of yourself. This is the critical foundation of any job change. Spend the time getting very clear about what you’re really good at, the 4-5 key talents that you have, and what’s most important to you at work.
Try listing the tasks and responsibilities you currently perform at work, home and leisure. Identify what you enjoy and do really well and identify the skills, abilities and personality traits that you use in doing these activities. Consider:
- Why do others seek you out? What do they rely on you for?
- What do others notice or appreciate about you?
- What tasks have you enjoyed the most in past jobs? Why?
- What talents do these draw on?
Think about the things you are really interested in, what matters to you and the activities that you’re drawn to.
- What have been the most satisfying things you’ve ever done?
- What made them so?
- What does this suggest to you about what to do next?
Begin the Research
Now you’re ready to find both the organizations and positions where these types of activities are done, and the places that align with your interests and what’s important to you. Develop a list of organizations and types of jobs that have a relationship to your areas of interest.
Check out the on line Occupational Outlook Handbook which describes multitudes of jobs. There are lots of resources to help you identify organizations. MaineBiz, the Department of Economic Development, and the Chamber of Commerce all compile lists of organizations. Talk to your friends and find out if the organizations they work for have the jobs you’re interested in.
Continue your search by looking for the work you’d really like to have. Look in the papers and on line sites to see who’s hiring for these types of positions, the qualifications the jobs require and the titles and levels of the positions. Perhaps you’ll see that you need more experience or expertise to get the position you desire.
By doing some research, you can identify positions that can be stepping stones to your desired job. Or you can find a job using your current expertise in an organization that also has the jobs you aspire to do. Once you’re working at the organization use the internal hiring process to move into the new line of work.
Focus is Key
Identifying what you really want and focusing your job search on these opportunities will increase your ability to effectively market yourself, and without a doubt, your job success and satisfaction will be significantly greater doing work that you enjoy. As a wise man named Thoreau once said, “in the long run, we only hit what we aim at”.
“Job Change, It begins with Focus” is a copyrighted publication of Career & Workplace Directions, LLC and cannot be copied or printed without express permission of Career & Workplace Directions, LLC.