After many anxious nights and frustrating days, you’ve finally made a decision: you need to find a new job. Over the last few months, you may have gone back and forth, thinking and rethinking, questioning if you should just stick it out or if you should find a new home for your talent. The perfect time to start your job search is before you begin feeling a desperate need to get out of your current position. One of the worst times to start a job search is when you feel like your back is up against the wall.
Deciding to search for a new job, regardless of the labor market, can be both exciting and frightening. There’s excitement in thinking about new possibilities for your career and work-life. But thinking about the time, energy, and potential rejection involved in the job search process can be overwhelming. For those who decide that finding a new job is well worth the challenges a job search will bring, a larger question looms: How can I be sure my next job will be any better than my last one?
I’ve been there. I was initially excited about a new position in a new company, but I quickly became disenchanted with the job within the first year. We all expect somewhat of a lull after the honeymoon phase is over, but what happens when you find yourself in the same position again in your new job?
You do all the work to change jobs but still end up with the same frustration, the same poor work environment, the same disgruntled colleagues, and the same dread every Monday morning. The first thing that comes to mind when we reach this place again is it’s time to find a new job – and we start the process all over again.
If you have found yourself in this situation, take stock and examine the one common denominator of all of your work experiences: you. Before you start your job search, get clear about what you really need to thrive instead of survive at work.
Doing a better job defining exactly what you want doesn’t mean your ideal job will magically appear, but it will help you focus your job search on opportunities that have greater potential for long term career growth. Instead of applying to jobs based on title, salary, and location, try asking yourself these questions:
- Which values are most important to you right now? You may have chosen jobs based on money before, but maybe autonomy and growth are more important for you now.
- What experience or opportunity is missing in your current work? If your current tasks are not challenging you, the same job description in a different company won’t make a difference.
- What kind of opportunity will allow you to do your best work? The same job in a different industry could make a big difference in job satisfaction and growth potential.
- What kind of work environment, culture, and values do you want in your next employer? Use your network and online resources to get background information before you spend time applying to companies that may not be a good fit.
- What thoughts, behaviors, and beliefs about work do you need to let go of in order to attract different opportunities? Remember, you will attract what you give attention to. Are you holding onto a belief that work has to be hard? Or maybe you expect that managers are always out to find your flaws.
In a sense your job search is similar to the process of looking for a new car. Very rarely does someone walk into a random sales room with no knowledge of the features, values, and, most importantly, the preferences they are looking for. The time spent in answering these questions before you start your search enables you to look in the right places and gives you a better chance to rule out opportunities that are not a good fit. So, get out your journal, notebook, or where ever you have decided to record your responses and get started.
By Tai Goodwin