Gone are the days when people spend 10 – 15 years with one company or one job, and studies have shown that an average person now changes jobs ten to fifteen times throughout his or her career (or an average of 12 job changes!). So with many of us going through this process during our professional lives, how do you go about figuring out your next career move in a time when there are so many different career options?
One of the most common pitfalls that I’ve seen for people looking to make their next career move is the urge to solve for the near impossible – which often include questions such as: what do I want to do with my life or what do I want to be when I grow up? This often causes a lot of anxiety as figuring out what you want to do is not a problem that can be easily addressed overnight. Instead, I would recommend the following steps to get you one step closer to what you want to do when you grow up.
Open yourself up to learning about new opportunities
Once you feel that you are ready to explore new opportunities, talk to as many people as you can. This includes friends, classmates, colleagues, and especially recruiters. Recruiters can act as an invaluable resource if you get yourself out of the selling mindset and instead, use this time to ask them questions that will help you figure out what the jobs really entail. I’m a firm believer that you can learn a lot about the jobs by talking to recruiters and this will also get you to start thinking about the skills and the experiences that people value in the marketplace.
Furthermore, chances are your interviewing skills might be a bit rusty if you’ve been at the same job for a while, so the talking would help you get smart and learn how to talk to employers and speak the same language. Business speech sometimes feel like a different language altogether, so use the opportunities to capture what they are saying and find ways to incorporate that into your resume / story. You will find yourself to be a much more effective communicator through theses series of conversations.
Listen to yourself
I’m also a firm believer that you are the best judge of what you like or dislike, so learn to use your internal radar to your advantage. Listen to your gut feel as you are talking to people about the roles and ask yourself if these are jobs that you can see yourself in. I’ve found this exercise to be an effective process of elimination, because while you may not know what is your dream job looks like, you should be able to eliminate the ones that you know for sure you wouldn’t be a good fit.
Take baby steps in your search
Last but not least, be patient and take baby steps as job search can easily take up to 6 months. One way I’ve found to be helpful is to have a goal of talking to at least 2 – 3 people per week so that it’s digestible in a short period of time. This would also help reduce the anxiety and it would feel a lot more achievable over time.
Last but not least, know that you are not alone. Our recent research found that with many more job switches occurring in one’s professional career, people are spending far more time searching and networking for that right job that is more fulfilling or provide greater compensation.
Hopefully these tips will help you get started on that discovery journey!