Lost in Your Career? Figure it out FAST

The job search process is daunting.  Especially when you don’t know where to begin.  Dana Manciagli, veteran career coach, global career expert, highly sought-after speaker and author of The Business Journals’ Career Mojo column has some solid advice for moving forward with the job search when you’re feeling directionless. — Maurice Gilbert

lostI get it. You’re stuck. You don’t know what you want to do next and it’s blocking you from finding a job.

Well, you know what? There are ways to figure it out. Time to get over that hurdle and move into job search mode. Get out of “Goal Land” and into the active pursuit of your next career chapter.

Some motivating principles for you:

It’s not a life sentence. Your next move is not a life sentence. You can try something new and if you don’t like that, you can re-group later. Oh, and don’t focus on five-year goals or what you want to do in 10 years. Just think about what you like and don’t like for your next gig.

You’ll never be sure. You’ll never be 100 percent sure it’s the right move until you’ve been in your next role for at least two years. And give it that much time. Year one is just learning. Year two is when you can really make an impact and gauge if you are satisfied.

You’re not alone. There are many people in the same boat you are. However, will you be the one who picks something and gets off the boat? Or the one who sits in the boat, using the same old, “I don’t know what I want,” excuse for not looking for a job?

You’ve got choices. Look at the process of picking your next career move as if it were a shopping experience. You get to “window shop” at multiple opportunities and then pick a few career targets for your next experience to “try on.”

You CAN take two. It’s okay to have two job search goals. I don’t recommend more than that. One of my clients today, Michael, is aiming at two quite different career changes. One, an information technology (IT) applications specialist and, two, a customer-facing consultant. They are very distinct and we are separating his search efforts by these two goals. He is applying to positions in both, and we’ll see where he lands soon.

Have a Plan B. Imagine a dartboard. Draw one. First, define the position that is smack in the middle, the bullseye. Now have a career goal that is in the second circle, as well. Call them Plan A and Plan B.

You have many choices to accelerate your career move decisions. After all, the sooner you resolve what you want to do next, the sooner you can search more effectively and begin working at your new position, right?

Books such as my own, Cut the Crap, Get a Job!, and many others are designed to share insights to help you assess your goal and then reach that goal via a more effective job search process.

Read many job descriptions. Hundreds. It’s simple and fun, so block some chunks of time. Try this exercise on picking your goal: Go to any of the big job boards such as Monster.com, Indeed.com or Glassdoor.com. Don’t be selective about city location or industry or company. Focus on function (roles, responsibilities) to figure out what you would enjoy doing from 8 to 5. Make a “Yes” pile and a “No” pile – no “maybe” pile – based on the descriptions and key words you read and envision yourself in each job. If you enjoy helping customers, then look at sales and customer service roles. You will find many different titles and roles within each function. For example, within sales, you will see inside sales, outside sales, sales operations, etc. Learn about them and identify the titles and job descriptions you will apply for in the future.

Coaches. While we coaches are an investment, we can accelerate the time to complete your goal-determination process. I quickly guide my clients through the steps to define their goals, then we head immediately into job search mode.

How do you know when you are there? You’re on track when you can fill in the following blanks:

I am looking for a position in the [fill in blank] or in [fill in blank] .

Example: I am looking for a customer service job in the banking or consumer goods industries in Minneapolis, Minnesota.

Kudos to you for recognizing you need to resolve your goal barrier. Now you can start searching with a lot more confidence, conviction, and energy!


Dana_ManciagliDana Manciagli is a career expert, speaker and consultant. She has spent more than 30 years as a Fortune 500 sales and marketing executive and is now retired after more than a decade at Microsoft. Dana is the author of the book, “Cut the Crap, Get a Job!” and a prolific blogger. She sits on the worldwide board of Junior Achievement and has her MBA from the Thunderbird School of Global Management.

Published by Conselium Executive Search, the global leader in compliance search.  

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