During this time of quarantine, job lay-offs, and maximum time off at home, I have seen the most job hunting in friends, family, former coworkers than ever before. Everyone is taking that pause to reevaluate and possibly change courses. What better time than now?
When I began the journey of job searching, my approach looked something like this:
“Oh of course. I’ll get online and look at some job ideas, scroll through, submit my resumé and find a great career. I’ll probably have to do a little bit of searching… Probably have to submit my papers a few more times than I’d like… But that’s okay, I’m up for it. It’ll take a few tries before I get that dream job, but I’m a hard worker so I’m willing to put in the time.”
SIX MONTHS down the line & I’m staring at my computer aggravated.
I can’t even find something that LOOKS like it could MAYBE fit my personality.
A small smaaaall part of me was hopeful that this might be like a SUBWAY® situation: pick my meat, cheese, toppings, all on the bread I’ve always wanted, wrap it up, hit the door. Does it have to be perfect? No. But I love SUBWAY® so I’m willing to give a little, you know? I’m a pretty FORGIVING and PATIENT person, right? I’m doing my part here. I’m being VERY REALISTIC. Not asking too much. Accepting some flaws and still smiling.
No no no.
I feel like I can’t even form words on a resumé.
Have I even worked before?
What do I like?
I got a degree, right? Does that matter, or?
A year at Kirkland’s in 2012. No, don’t put that.
None of these listings look like me. Can’t even picture going in for an interview. You’ve got to be kidding me.
If I have to fill out one more cover letter I think my brain might ooz out of my ear. I’m not even sure what I’m saying on these cover letters anymore. Do I even want this job? I’ve gone so far down the rabbit hole that I’m just trying to get accepted for something and I can’t even remember if it was a position I really wanted.
What. Is. Happening.
[I quit. Spicy Italian with Baked BBQ Lays. Diet Coke.]
I realized that if I was going to truly stick out this process I needed to organize my mind, soul, and spirit to really remember why I was doing this.
What guidelines could I follow to know if I was making a good decision or at least headed in the right direction? Most of the time in life, you’re not going to know exactly where you’ll end up in the end. To know you’re heading in the direction of your destination, you’ll need some clarifying questions to make sure you’re on the right path (or you’ll at least find it).
These are the questions I’ve started to ask myself as I continue the search.
Do I know my perfect career? No. But this is really going to help me analyze how I’m getting there as I keep on treading mud.
Before I dive into my decision-making process, I want to address an overbearing thought I have had to face during this ENTIRE process:
“If I don’t even know what I want to do with my life, how am I supposed to know what career to pursue?”
It can feel like you need to be completely sure of where you’re going in life and have your twenty-year plan filed away if you’re going to accept any “adult” full-time position or else…what’s the point?
The point is this: anything can be a stepping stone.
Nothing has to be final.
You can go for something and decide later on to go for something different.
Just go for something.
This was (and is) …a less than ideal reality for me. I want everything to be perfect and know exactly what I’m doing. But life is not that way. You’ll have to decipher many different little paths to continue in the direction of the main path, and that can be messy. It just can. That doesn’t indicate that you aren’t doing it well or “right.”
Take a minute to ask yourself these questions when approaching your next “big career move”:
1. Could I like it?
Maybe. Maybe not. The reality is, you won’t truly know until you try it. Having an interest in it or feeling motivated/excited when you consider the possibility of this job is a good indicator of at least moving in the right direction.
If this job ends up being a perfect dream fit, amazing. If not, you just eliminated one possibility OR moved a step closer towards a better fit in the future. Either way, you got more answers by going for it than by discovering nothing from doing nothing.
2. Is it in a location I can see myself living?
This is just practical. If you don’t want to live in the area the job is listed at, I wouldn’t recommend uprooting your current life if you’re not even sold on the job itself. Alternatively, if the company has already made you an offer, maybe try pitching a remote version of the job description just to open up the possibility and see where it goes from there.
3. What are the upfront costs? (licenses, schooling, etc.)
Again, how into the job are you? Do you feel this could ignite some passion within you or are you only doing it to have a job? There are many positions that can fill the role of simply “having a job” that do not require additional costs of licensing or further schooling. If you have to spend money to get this position or potentially go into debt for schooling, I think it should be a job you at least might like, not just a complete shot in the dark.
4. Is there anyone I know who has or is currently doing this job?
Get their honest thoughts. Go to someone you trust who will tell you a real day-in-the-life perspective without any fluff. It might be amazing and now that you’ve spoken to someone who’s in it, your questioning can settle somewhat. Contrastingly, if they tell you some hard truths you hadn’t previously considered, you might have dodged a bullet and can rest knowing that you did the research and questioning.
5. Is it a step up from what I’m currently doing even if it isn’t THE destination?
Not that it has to be, but if yes, this question would definitely be one to fall in the “Pro” column for contrast and comparison reasons. If it’s on the path to a goal you have already marked out for yourself and it’s a promotion in position and/or pay, I would say you can’t really lose. This will only provide better experience and credibility for you.
**But remember: a “step-up” doesn’t HAVE to be referring to pay. It could mean a job in which you feel more fulfilled day-to-day, have more time to spend with family & friends / to work on a side project, love the people you work with, get more experience TOWARD a different dream job down the line, etc. A “step up” is going to be personal to each individual, but valuable regardless of what that definition is to you and your values/needs.
6. The most important one: DO I HAVE PEACE ABOUT IT?
(Helloooooo prayer. PRAY PRAY PRAY ABOUT IT BEFORE YOU MOVE.)
One main question to ask yourself here: would you be accepting the job out of fear or faith?
- To clarify, if you would be taking the job because you are scared nothing else will come along and this is your only shot, that decision would be led from a place of anxiety.
- If you would be taking the job because you think it will give you some experience, allow you to save additional income, answer some clarifying questions to better define your ultimate career (<– love that one because ANY step brings clarification), etc., THAT decision would be led from trusting that it is a valuable tool to move you forward. You may still have some apprehension going into a new position, but that’s NORMAL.
Ask yourself for reasons behind both scenarios (going for it or walking away) and see what your true motivations are. Fleshing it out on paper will give you great insight and probably answer more questions than you anticipated.