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The Job Searching Mistake You’re Likely Making

Every 2-3 years throughout the first 13 years of my career, I switched jobs.  I had a distinct pattern: the first six months of my new job I was really happy and excited that I had finally found a role I liked. Then, the familiar doubts and disheartening realizations would rear their ugly heads.  I felt stifled, I was stressed, there was a boss/co-worker/agency who was annoying me.  Eventually, I would hit the job boards and return to the oh-so-familiar job search.

This manifested in typing keywords that coincided with the job function I was already in (marketing) and searching for companies or roles that sounded “cool” and “unique.” I searched far and wide on Indeed, Monster, LinkedIn, you name it.  When I found a job that looked semi-interesting, I’d drop the resume that outlined the laundry list of things I’d accomplished in my career. After time would pass and I wouldn’t hear back from 98% of the jobs I had applied for, I’d get discouraged and start to network with friends and colleagues… who all happened to be in very similar industries to me.  (Naturally, we tend to build our tribe based on people we met in school/at work).  By the time I started this networking exercise, I was reaching a breaking point and NEEDED to make a switch.  The companies they connected me with who heeded my call all ended up being very similar to the situation I was looking to leave.  But hey, it was new so maybe this time, it would be different.  You may have guessed: it never was and my cycle started all over again.

One day, I started to ponder the question: 

Could I really continue to do this for the next 20 years?!? 

When I finally gave myself the time and space to explore this question, I came to an answer that wasn’t surprising.  NO: I could not remain in this cycle for the next 20 years.  Something had to change.  I hired a coach/hypnotherapist who took me on a much-needed journey of self-discovery. And that process literally changed my life.

How to Approach a Job Search That Will Lead to a Fulfilling Role

You must first start by looking inward to define what you really want from your job/career.  Think about all the things you pursue in life and how thought you invest in first defining what you want:

  1. You don’t shop for a car without having your requirements defined (i.e. it must be safe, it must be less than $x, it must be electric, etc.)
  2. You wouldn’t buy a house without first defining your laundry list of must haves.  In fact, this is one of the first things a real estate agent will ask you for
  3. In marketing speak, you wouldn’t design a campaign without first defining your target market and the needs of your avatar

We apply the needs-defining methodology to so many aspects of decision-making in life but when it comes to one of the most important, what do we want to do with the majority of the working hours of our day, we rarely spend time pondering what we really want to do before we jump into job-searching mode.

If you’ve attended university, chances are you met with a career counselor at some point.  And you may have taken some sort of personality assessment and then been handed a long list of jobs that suited people with your personality.  But that is just a small fraction of the equation.  That’s like preparing for an international trip and packing a bag but forgetting your passport, any shots you may need, and neglecting to book a hotel. You get the idea- traditional approaches to help us answer the question of what we want to do with our career still lead many, many people to end up on career paths that they want to leave by the time they reach their 30’s and 40’s.

So Where Should You Start with the Job Search?

Our whole lives, we’ve been taught that if we want a change, we should jump into action mode and make it happen.  I’m going to tell you something shocking: don’t move into action, move into inaction.  At this juncture, the best thing you can do for yourself is slow down, get out of your head, and tap into your heart and your soul.  How relaxing does that sound?

High level, there are some really basic questions that you should ponder: 

  1. What tasks fill me with energy?  
  2. What are my strengths?  
  3. What does an ideal day at work look like?  
  4. What are the top values that I want to honor in my life?
  5. What type of flexibility do I need to have?
  6. And, of course, economic requirements that I need to meet (salary, benefits, etc.)?

This is the tip of the iceberg.  But answering these questions will give you a good start into diving into defining your job requirements.  

By starting with this step, I ended up defining where I wanted to go and obtaining training to become an executive career and leadership coach.  I absolutely love what I do now and I have seen a positive domino effect across all parts of my life.  And I’ve been fortunate enough to take several clients on their own journey of career self-discovery and witnessed some remarkable transformations.  But when they came to me, many of them were stuck surfing the web looking for the answer to their career unhappiness.  Don’t fall into that same trap.  You’re destined for something great in your career- let your internal wisdom help you define what that is.

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