6 Things To Do When You Are Job Hunting
It's not unusual for clients to come to me thinking I'm going to give them all the answers to what they should do.
That was me too.
Before I became a coach, I had a life coach. And it really bugged me that this person wasn't going to unfurl their palm (a bit like Neo wanted the Matrix oracle to do) and give straight forward answers. Why wouldn't she reveal the job title to my happiness! How could it elude the two of us! How dare she keep the answers from me!
However, like my clients, I learned that, like it or not, your game plan to job satisfaction is something you have to write for yourself, no one else can tell you. Don’t worry though, it’s not all bad. In my experience, whilst there isn’t one magic algorithm to find you the ‘dream job’, there are some things you can do to help yourself along the way.
Since 2012, I have quit two jobs with no prospects lined up and I’ve had five different bosses that didn’t know how to get the best out of me. I always tried my best at work but the pieces weren't coming together for me. And so, even though I’d landed OK-paid jobs with lovely colleagues, I didn’t always feel passionate about the job. And annoyingly, if someone could offer me any job, I wasn't entirely sure what I would want that to be either. I was unhappy. I didn’t know what to do. And I felt super unsuccessful.
Let me take you to the point where things started to change.
It's 2018 and I've just landed back from a backpacking trip. I barely remember the flight back to the UK as I was sick with what turned out to be dysentery and headed to sleep on a friend's sofa in South London. I was unemployed and I was taking pretty much any shift-type work I could that didn’t detract from me finding other jobs.
During my job hunt, I joined a friend on an outing to a well known Board Game convention. Whilst we were there, he introduced me to some people he had been speaking with professionally and so, taking his lead, I enthusiastically inserted myself into their vision.
Off the back of this chat, I was fortunate enough to be offered some demo work with them. It was sporadic work but it was fun and, after six months, it meant I was in the right place for an opportunity with them when it came up. It’s because of this role that I’ve been able to build up my portfolio career but, most importantly, my confidence and belief in myself.
The 6 Things To Do
1. Find one thing that lights you up (and do it)
Being unhappy in your job can create a bit of an echo chamber for yourself. Therefore, it's important that you find things that shake that up. Find a thing that gives you joy and start doing it and sharing or, at the least, exposing yourself to that world. Why? Doing things you like builds your confidence in your abilities and it gets you meeting new people. In my case, I like games so I started trying to find conventions, cafes, socials that would get me into that world and I spoke to people.
Having done over 300 hours of coaching now with clients who range from 24 - 55, I am realising the cold hard truth that you can’t put answers into a machine and have them spit out your dream career. We're all different. And therefore, you need to put the work in so that you can find the gold nuggets that you recognise and know to be what you're looking for.
I would say there can also be a bit of luck involved.
But let’s be honest, most luck doesn’t come from sitting alone waiting for someone to notice you. I believe that a lot of luck comes from taking action. And so, go out there and create your luck - pick something and take an action that gets you talking to new people and experiencing new environments.
2. Remember you’re on your own Game Plan of figuring your stuff out
Comparison is the worst - don’t project others’ game plans onto yours. Protect your Game Plan.
If you’re like me, when you start a job search, it's overwhelming and you feel lost and small. There is so much to stress about: your age, job titles, your CV, what your friends are doing, salary and other societal hang ups we've been fed. My pet favourite was being asked about how a job application was going. They mean well but you have to relive the pain of saying you didn't get the job.. again. It sucks. And that's why it's important to protect your Game Plan. Define the thing in your Game Plan that grounds you, the thing that says, "This is my choice. It is worth the struggle now for what I will have created for myself at the end."
Taking the time to understand this, define it and believe it is work worth doing.
When looking to my parents for inspiration I realised it's just not the same anymore. Because, unlike my parents, it's not that common to have a job for life, that's not how it's done these days. And on top of that, we're living longer than their average of 71.
Did you know that people who were born in 2007 are likely to live for 100 years? We’ve extended our life expectancy by a third since my dad was born! On top of this, instead of that job for life, people tend to have 12 jobs in their lifetime.
If you know you're going to work for 50 years, what would you want to say you've spent that time doing?
3. Know your values
We often hear companies speak about values. It's becoming more well known that having your own personal values can also be useful. Why? Well, values are what you stand for and they help reveal what's missing in a situations. Values could be anything from play to loyalty, from honesty to freedom. The bottom line is, knowing your values can help you make decisions. By understanding yourself more, you can start to seek out more of what you desire from life.
And to look at this on a smaller scale, you can use your values to inform your job hunt, from the environment you create to do your job hunt through to what you look for in a job.
4. Take a step back from your job
Before, your job was something that served a purpose. Now it's a gold nugget provider for your future job.
If you’re like most people, you will likely need to work whilst finding another job. Whilst this is happening, can you see it as an opportunity to build skills, get paid, and give you a reason to leave the house? Can you see it as a stepping stone?
If you zoom out of your life, this job is a building block in the ‘what next’. Use it to inform you of what you like, and what you don’t, and explore the opportunities it provides to make you more appealing for the next hire. Whether it's banking cash so you can take a course, putting yourself forward for public speaking or even mining a colleague for information on their role, there are opportunities. See the gold nuggets.
5. What does your current situation look like? To support us to understand our situation, it can often be useful to put an image to it.
It was a real light bulb moment for me when someone described my career as a 'ladder against the wrong wall'. I was growing but it wasn't clicking because I was on the wrong ladder! What about you? Is it that you don’t have a ladder at all? Or maybe you're stuck in a big leafy jungle and it's not clear what path to take. Perhaps you're playing a board games where everyone knows the rules apart from you. Take some time to understand this. After all, just like in a game, if you don’t know how to ‘win’, how can you know how to play?
If you can, get this image clear, from here you can work out what it is that's missing and what more specifically you are hunting for.
6. Know your allies and how to engage
Sitting alone looking for jobs can be lonely. Find your people. These might not be the conventional ones either - talk to a recruiter, a friend of a friend, the local business person who's shop you often go to, talk to a professional coach or whoever it is that can support you in a way that is useful. Early on in my job search, I realised that speaking to my mum about my CV was not overly helpful. In fact it was stressful and confusing for both of us. I love her to pieces but she’s a retired physio and frankly, she doesn't know anything about event management or setting up a life coaching business and so, to be blunt, I was barking up the wrong tree! What she could help me with however was how to look after my posture whilst I did the job hunting and so that's what I talked to her about. Winning.
If you could have a productive job-centric conversation with anyone, who would it be?
The last thing I want to leave you with is the awareness that whatever change you make now, it doesn't have to be permanent. It's OK to try something new and not like it, it's OK to apply for something and change your mind. Jobs are not a life sentence, they are how you spend a large chunk of your days/weeks and so, it's OK to be curious, to change and to explore.
Hopefully, you have got some steps to protect your outlook whilst you try to figure it out. As you know, it isn’t necessarily quick, and it’s often not easy. But, if you can take a deep breath and go through the process, respect it and respect yourself, I promise it’s worth it...Even if you realise that it’s not so bad where you are after all.
Want to talk this through with me? I'd love to hear from you. Book in a free discovery call here.