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Want a New Job? Five Things You Need to Know About Yourself


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by Sharon Hull in Career Planning, Front Page
September 25, 2016

Are you considering a new job?  Have you been around long enough that it feels like time to move on?  Do you suspect you’re missing great opportunities for growth?  Before you start searching for a new job, look inside yourself just a bit first.

How much do you know about your relationship to work, making a living, and finding meaning and purpose?  Are these things linked in your mind, or have you never even considered them?

In this post, I’ll share five key things you need to know about yourself before making your next bold career move!

1.  Who is impacted by your career decisions?

  • Are there people who would care if you decide to pick up and move across country or around the globe?
  • Do you have a partner or spouse whose career will be affected by your shift?
  • Will a new job require that you move at all?
  • Do you have children who will have to change school districts and make new friends?
  • Is there a pet to consider in your life plans?
  • Will your parents or other significant people need your assistance in the near future?

A “yes” to any of these questions means that you have stakeholders to include in your decision making.  If you can identify stakeholders, start talking with them.  Find out what matters to them, and whether they are ready to consider a change.  If not, some negotiation is order, either with them or within yourself.  If they are ready, enlist them in thinking about the change.  Either way, stakeholders matter.

2.  How does your work provide meaning in your life?

  • Is it important to you that you work with others, or that you work alone?
  • Does the quality of your work seem paramount to you?
  • Are you working for a “big-brand” organization, and does that matter to you?
  • Are you gaining attention or a reputation for your work?
  • Is it important to you that you learn something new in a new environment?
  • Is loyalty to a single company for a long period of time important to you?

Knowing these things will help you avoid making a leap to a new job that causes you to miss out on what matters most to you.  Evidence shows that people with a sense of meaning and purpose in their work have greater job satisfaction. Take the time to understand for yourself how this sense of purpose comes about, and make sure your job search takes it into account.

3.  What skills or experiences do you want to add?  

  • Is there a new software skill you would like to learn?
  • Would you like an additional leadership responsibility?
  • Are you ready to manage a larger team?
  • Is there an exotic location anywhere on the planet you would like to live?

Some people think that the only reason to take a new job is to make more money, or to pursue the next “rung” on the career ladder, whether it be a title or a bigger office, or a plum assignment.  We can all learn from our millennial colleagues and their patterns of job-seeking.  They are often painted as “job-hoppers” but more likely than not, they are attending to opportunities they see around them.

Stephanie Denning, a millennial, wrote a great perspective article about millennial thinking around careers and how many you careers you should have in a lifetime. Millennials may make a career move for the chance to gain a new skill, or to live in a new and exotic location, at a time when that choice would not negatively impact their stakeholders, or before they have an extensive set of stakeholders (see item #1 above).

If you are considering whether to make a move, ask yourself if there is a key technical skill, life experience, or leadership skill you would like to develop.  Those opportunities may become the driver for a truly bold career move that provides a great deal of satisfaction.

4.  When is the ideal time for your next move?

  • Do you know where you are in your career life cycle?
  • Did your company just get (or lose) a big contract?
  • Is your industry in the midst of a major transformation?
  • Are your children/spouse/partner ready to move?
  • Would an additional year or two where you are enhance your retirement or career progression significantly?
  • How long have you been in your present situation (and the three positions before this one – we’re talking patterns here)

Work-life researchers often consider careers to have a set of “stages,” sometimes described as EXPLORATION-PROGRESS-SATISFACTION-EVALUATION-LEGACY.  Understanding where you are in this progression can help you decide how much risk you want to take in seeking a new job, and what the timing might be.

If you have stakeholders, their position in the career life cycle (think spouse or partner), or their stage of education (think children) will influence your timing.  Perhaps your organization is on the cusp of a major change, and staying put through that change till things settle out would provide stability and give you a chance to learn new leadership skills.  Or perhaps another company is better situated to ride out the change than your current employer.  All these factors will affect timing for a career change, and are important questions to ask before planning your next move.

5.  What would it take for you to want to stay where you are?  

  • Is it possible that your current situation could be upgraded?
  • Could you ask for a raise or flexible work hours?
  • Is there a new assignment you would like to take on?
  • Does industry or organizational change present the opportunity to build a new team or product line?

Sometimes, just asking for what you want can bring transformation to the most difficult of situations.  Do you know what matters to you?  Is it money, or time?  (See this great article on that topic!)  Would you like flexible work hours?  If you could work four longer days instead of five shorter ones, would that make a difference?  How about asking for a new assignment that grows your skills and talents (see item #3 above)?

Sit down and make an inventory of anything that might be possible in your current situation.  You could save yourself a lot of hassle (moving, updating your resume, going on interviews) and still make your current situation into “the perfect job.”

These five key questions will help you assess the “current state” and  “desired state” for your work life.  They will help you map out a successful job search, and give you some clarity about what you really want.    I encourage you to try them out before you search for your next new job.

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Sharon Hull, MD, ACC

President and CEO at Metta Solutions, LLC
Hi, and welcome to Metta Solutions.I am a physician and a professional executive coach .  I help people thrive by coaching them to manage change, grow their careers, develop as leaders and integrate personal and professional goals. My passion is working with self-reflective individuals and organizations to help them achieve their goals.  Subscribe to the Metta Solutions Community here.
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