Most careers don’t begin with a dream job. After one or two years, many careerists find themselves looking for a new opportunity to advance themselves. After five, 10 or even 20 years in your career, other types of career goals often emerge.
Maybe you are looking for more work-life balance. Maybe you have discovered that working for toxic bosses is no longer is bearable. Or, perhaps you realized that your career trajectory has stalled; your goal to be CEO at 40 has been superseded by other priorities, and on the eve of your 50th birthday, you realize you want to get back on track.
Whatever your situation, waiting until your pain has reached an unbearable threshold is not the best strategy. Instead, when thoughts of change begin disrupting your day-to-day, take note, and take action.
1. Prioritize yourself and your career. Don’t think you have time to prepare your resume? While the natural next step may be to hire someone to write it for you or ask a friend for help, beware of taking your foot off the thinking gas.
While investing in a professional resume writer is a great way to rev up your story engine, you still will need to be actively and vigorously involved throughout the process contributing specific and thoughtful challenge, action and results stories, and much more. Remember the acronym, GIGO (garbage in garbage out)? It applies to resume development.
So, you must prioritize time for this. If giving up some activity, project or other involvement that soaks up your ‘spare’ time is required to make room for resume introspection, then do so.
2. Be focused and committed. Once you’ve set your mind to focusing on your career change and job search, don’t be half-hearted or act as if it’s just an afterthought. Doing so will yield lackluster results.
3. Be accountable for your results. You have a gorgeous, perfect resume at the ready but aren’t getting any traction? While it could be your resume still needs some focused reworking, it may also simply be your lack of focus.
Are you dashing your resume off to every available job, sometimes two to three copies to different positions at the same company? Does your effort feel haphazard? If so, it is likely appearing haphazard to the recipients. Aim your efforts, and then review and rework your strategy as you go versus flustering yourself and everyone around you when you don’t get immediate job interviews and offers.
4. Pave new paths. Quit hitting the same old brick walls. If the career path you are on is gnarled and impossible, consider a detour. Create your own new path! While you may not know what a new path looks like, just start paving, with verve. You may be surprised what opportunities open up for you.
5. View others’ success stories as fuel to motivate, but be careful about comparison-itis. In other words, the only person you are really competing with is the person you were a month, a year or five years ago. If you are advancing and growing every day, then you are progressing. If you feel yourself stalling, do something to get unstuck.
6. Hire a coach. If you are stuck or confused, a coach can help you sort through that maze of confusion and construct a new action plan. You may even discover that some of your instincts that you have been questioning are spot on, or that what your spouse or best friend suggested is just the right thing to do.
As humans, we often need reinforcement and to hear things more than once before it really sinks in. A coach will not only help you sort through what ideas to keep and what to trash, but will also imbue a new sense of confidence and hope, as well as affirmation that you are on the right track.
7. Treat your job change as a job. Not everything can be hacked or short-cutted. A job search, in many regards, cannot be streamlined, at least not every aspect. It always requires your energy and thought work. Just handing off your problems; e.g., resume, networking, application process, etc., to another person or an application won’t work. Those are resources and tools that require your human energy to power them.
8. Be vulnerable. Harboring an attitude that you are too good to ask questions, admit you could learn something or unwilling to respond well to instructions or advice could be the end of the career advancement road.
Instead, be actively inquisitive and equally willing to try new things without resentment. If something doesn’t fit, then try it once and move on, but do try new ideas that other people have shared, and give the results time to arrive. Arrogance and over-confidence that you ‘know it all’ is destructive. Vulnerability blended with the right dose of confidence and action is a recipe for success.