These days, it is difficult to find a career with which you can feel completely happy. The good news is that there are plenty of great jobs waiting for the right person to fill them, but you have to know how to look, and what you want to find. In order to tackle the overwhelming job, of finding a job (ironic?), you should first take a deep breath. Now that you are breathing, it is important to come to terms with your expectations and realities, so that you are applying for jobs within your career development level that suit your interests or career goals. This is especially important if you are shifting industries. Although roles and job functions may be similar, if your goal is to move from selling medical supplies to wine sales, the process of fully understanding a new industry can be a huge undertaking. And if you are interested in changing job roles, you will also face challenging hurdles.
Looking for a new job should be treated as a self-exploration exercise. Those who take the job search as such understand that they must confront difficult questions. Also, remember that there are compromises that may have to be made. I have compiled a list of what I think are the most important things to consider when you are looking for a new career.
Clients: It is a good idea to look at who your customers will be, and if you think you would like interacting with them and being a part of their community. From retail to video game programming, it is much easier to succeed when you can understand your consumers and appreciate their perspectives.
Company culture: For many employers cultural fit is on the top of their list for hiring new recruits. But, as an employee it works to your benefit too. In order to feel fulfilled with your new position, it is a good idea to look at the company’s core values, brand, mission, and work environment.
This can often be a difficult one to assess, since most organizations claim to have a “good” company culture. The easiest way to learn about a company’s culture and their sincerity (after you’ve done your surface level assessment from the website and initial encounters), is to ask questions during your interview that address expectations for your role. How are they going to train you? How much support do they provide? Also, look around and notice the setup. Is the office situated in a way that makes you feel comfortable (e.g. cubicles, open space, departmentalized, good lighting, etc.)? It is okay to ask direct questions that address what they have in mind for you. In the past, what did this role develop into? Is there a career development path associated with this role?
How your experience fits: This point is all about having realistic expectations in your next job. Everyone wants to get that job that is a level up, but the reality is that you may not be ready. It is counterproductive to continue applying and interviewing for a position that is beyond reach. This is especially important for those who are switching industries and/or job functions.
5 year plan: Try to decide what you enjoyed and were good at in your past experiences, no matter how different the roles were. Think about why you are looking for a new career, and how your new career can take you where you want to go. Prioritize your career aspirations and figure out what you need to do to get there. One idea is to look on jobs boards and find the job you can see yourself doing in five years. Look at the requirements, and treat them like a checklist of skills and experience that you currently have, but want to improve upon and grow from. Make sure that the current role you are applying for is a step in the right direction.
Rewards: You are going to spend most of your waking hours at work. With this in mind, it is important to find what you do rewarding. This can mean many different things to people. Rewards include pay rate, emotional gratitude, benefits (including paid time off, health insurance, company events, etc.), and anything else that helps you wake up in the morning and love going to work. I would recommend writing a list of things that you want from work-life, and what motivates you. Prioritize the list and make sure your list aligns with the company and job you think you are interested in. And if it does align, that is somewhat of a rare occurrence so be sure to put effort in creating a quality cover letter, and do your research on the company. This little effort will separate your application from so many others.
Something to consider is that your expectations in these categories change over time. I’ve always believed that as long as you’re being challenged to learn and grow in a productive way, you are benefitting from your experiences. Check out our Careers page, as we are actively hiring, as well as the B Corp Jobs Board, for the opportunity to work for an organization that gives back to the community.