So you know you want to make a career move, but you aren’t sure which direction to move in. You are stressed out, worried and feeling completely stuck. Paying more attention to your career fulfillment, you are clear you don’t want to take any job – it has to be something that lights you up! But where the heck do you start?!?! Discovering what role best fits you, what you want and what matters to you.
The process of narrowing down what kinds of roles you want to target takes some willingness to explore without being attached to the end results. This might sound weird because you wouldn’t be reading this article if you were not already dealing with something in this regard. Trust me, if you can loosen your grip on “having to” figure it out, you will be far more productive and see things that could possibly be right under your nose.
There is not a perfect science or strategy for figuring out what profession is going to be the ultimate fit. In fact, most adults are still trying to figure out what they want to be when they grow up. Statistically, the Baby Boomer Generation was the last group who found a profession and stayed in the same lane – on through retirement. Beginning with Generation X, and even more so with Millennials, it is more common to change career paths multiple times along the way. People are far less willing these days to tolerate any lack of fulfillment, satisfaction or growth opportunities at work.
Existentially this is great news! However, as exciting as the idea seems at first it can also be an incredibly frustrating, anxiety-filled process to determine what role best fits you. There is an array of emotions and experiences people can have and there are a lot of people who have found themselves in that whirlwind when they come to us for career support. If you think about it, it makes total sense. Those moments when you are worried, upset, panicking, etc. are times when you are likely to be less productive – no matter what the specific activity is. Should you be reading this article and thinking to yourself, “Yep, that definitely captures what it has been like for me,” keep reading because we created this specifically for you!
Where the Heck Do I Start?
The first place we recommend you begin is simply getting connected to what matters to you and what interests you. To do this, as we mentioned above you must first set aside the inclination and your attachment to figuring it out – as in fighting “to get to” the answer. That is just more of what is keeping you confused and overwhelmed. Letting that go for a little bit will be good for you! Sometimes you have to give yourself room to think and breathe. If you do, we promise the house is not going to burn down.
Now that you are a little more present, grab a notebook and something to write with. Ready?
Open to a clean page and create sections with the following headlines:
✓ What do I care about?
✓ What am I interested in?
✓ What do I like?
✓ What do I love?
✓ What have I always been curious about?
Before you start writing, let us note that your answers do not have to be bound to the confines of your career path. In fact, we invite you to expand it out to your whole life. Yes, we are serious. If you add it all up, you will be spending 60-75% of your life at work. Some people are willing to be miserable and dissatisfied for a great paycheck. We assert you aren’t in that boat.
Keep answering each of the above questions until you literally cannot think of anything else to say. One client ended up writing down “To have this exercise be over” as what they were interested in. Not a problem. It helped them get settled.
Once you’ve written your absolute final answer, you now the opportunity to start exploring what kinds of roles might have something to do with what you’ve written and what role best fits you.
Find Your Guiding Light
In addition to zeroing in on what you care about, as in what really matters to you, we also recommend taking time to capture what your principles and values are. Do not be frivolous with this. You really want to look at all the various dynamics that play into someone’s career and the day-to-day experience of a job. Look at all of the nuances and ask yourself what is important to you.
What kind of communication do you want with your manager? What kind of dynamic do you want with your co-workers? What about when there is an issue or misunderstanding? How do you want those times to be resolved? Do you want to be able to come to your supervisor with personal issues or do you want a hard line between the personal and the professional? What about career growth? Do you want the option to relocate?
The above are all examples of questions you should ask yourself and really take a good look at. There are common, cookie-cutter answers. However, keep in mind that you will be interviewing them as much as they will be interviewing you.
The Job Sauce had a client once who decided to resign from her current role because she planned to start a family in the next year or so with her husband. This was a difficult decision because she loved her job and she especially loved the dynamic she had with her colleagues. Being a straight shooter and very committed that issues get resolved down to the bottom, one of her biggest fears was that she wouldn’t get to be herself with any other organization. The thought of having to pretend or bite her tongue until she developed a sufficient rapport gave her a headache. Who knows how long that would take? Would that kind of mutual respect really be there? Would people pretend to care and then turn around and gossip at the espresso machine?
When this client came to us, we had her walk through the same exercise we are instructing you in here. We also worked with her to craft questions to get a sense of the company culture, as well as trained her in how to read previous employee reviews on Glassdoor.com. Working this out for herself allowed for this client to be clear about what she needed to be her best self at work. Additionally, it also allowed her to hear when there was anything off once she started interacting with people at the organization. Interviewing the employer and assessing their culture has an impact on what role best fits you.
She later shared with us about a department director who was a no show for her 2nd interview call. Initially, she was really excited. Of course, she understood that things happen. The department for which she was applying was new and being designed. That was part of why they were looking to bring her on board. However, once she finally did interview with the director, nowhere in the conversation did he clean up – let alone acknowledge – acknowledge the previous breakdown. It was an immediate red flag for her and so she withdrew herself from the applicant pool the next day.
The degree to which this woman became grounded and confident was shocking!
What Industries Fit Your Interests?
One thing that we find with job seekers these days more than ever before is how important it is for people to believe in the company vision and mission. Knowing the industries that are more likely to align with your interests, principles, and values will support you in the long game. Everything is exciting in the beginning, yet after the sparkle fades are you still going to love what you are doing? This has a lot to do with what the company is up to, the big picture.
A lot of targeted positions span industries, such as accounting, human resources, legal, etc. But others are unique to that industry and/or more common in some industries versus others. For example, learning and development is a fairly new concept. You will be unlikely to find these kinds of roles in more traditional business settings like banking or oil distribution. On the other hand, if you look at less culturally traditional industries like the tech sector you will have a buffet of options.
Furthermore, this is a way to start narrowing down the kinds of professional environments that match your principles and values. If you are someone who really cares about climate change, you might not want to work for organizations that don’t have their attention on that issue – or worse are contributing to it. This is an important aspect of determining what role best fits you by paying attention to the industries for those roles.
So do yourself a favor and do the critical thinking here. Everything matters.
What Kinds of Jobs Do You Want to Go After?
At this point, you should start to have a sense of the kinds of roles you might be interested in, but being interested is different than knowing this is it. There are a few items to be paying attention to as you continue to zone in:
Read the Job Descriptions: A project manager role at one company might look different at another. The job descriptions provide a lot of information about what you are going to be doing day-to-day. Therefore you want to start getting a sense of what kind of (in this case) project management role you are targeting. When it comes to what role best fits you, it is not always a “one size fits all.”
Interview Other Professionals: If it is a role you have little to no experience with, it would behoove you to request to interview people who are currently doing that kind of work. This will give you an opportunity to ask questions, dig in, bump around, etc. so as to see if this is something you really want to invest yourself in. Remember searching for roles to apply to, ensuring your resume is ready to go, and then applying is work. Make sure you are not wasting your time and energy.
Use the Search Function: Let’s take LinkedIn for example. When you go to the “Jobs” section, you will see text fields where you can type. Here you can play around by typing in different words. When you do this, you’ll notice that a dropdown menu will appear where LinkedIn is attempting to guess what you are looking for. Why this is so great is because you’ll start to see differently named roles that will expand your search when you are ready to apply. Just imagine yourself stumbling upon what role best fits you and then being ready to run with it! The Job Sauce clients loved playing around with this.
Time to Rock and Roll!
If you take on everything – piece by piece – in this article, you will effectively navigate yourself to roles that are a perfect fit for what you really want to do.
The last thing to consider is what structure you are putting in place so that you continue staying in action. You could make a pact with a friend to be “accountability buddies.” You could share weekly on your social media channels to be public about what you are up to. Or you could hire a company like The Job Sauce to empower you along the way as you are looking for what role best fits you – that is what we are here for!
You can connect with one of our team members by calling (847) 999-7225 or click here to schedule a time for us to call you.