So you have decided that now is the time to start taking action to change your career circumstances. You sort through old files, dig up the old résumé, and realize that it has not been updated in years. You struggle to remember everything that you did. For a moment you doubt if you are hirable. Taking a look at your outdated résumé, you wonder if you would hire yourself. Conclusion: not with this résumé.
You wonder to yourself if you really have time to give this job search what it takes. You tell yourself that you have to do SOMETHING. You cannot stay where you are any longer. Something has got to give. Writer’s block sets in hard, though, as you look at job descriptions and say, “I could do that. I could do that, too. How do I put that in my résumé? What did I really spend all these years doing? Did the work I performed really matter?”
Dusting off and updating your résumé does seem like a logical place to start when you decide that you must take action. However, if this is where you start then you are making one of the most common mistakes that lead most jobseekers down a road of frustration, disappointment, and hopelessness.
I have found that a lot of people love to talk about themselves, especially when they are asked the right questions. It is not as enjoyable, however, to write about yourself, especially when it really matters.
If your résumé is not the best place to start your job search, what is the best first thing you can do?
A couple of weeks ago I wrote a post about creating a vision that pulls you out of bed. I was certainly trying to speak to the people who find themselves in that state of frustration, depression, disappointment, and hopelessness, but do not wait until you are in that state of mind before designing your future. Save yourself NOW from that future torture.
Epic Careering outlines seven steps of the transition process, the first of which being Career Discovery. Questions you would ask yourself during this stage would be, “What do I want to be when I grow up?” and, “What is the next logical stage in my career if I am to meet my ultimate goals?” Even if you think you know that you want something similar to what you have, but just with different circumstances, it is worth an investment of time and thought to decide exactly what improvements in circumstances look like.
Would you report to a manager who is much more open-minded about your ideas?
Would you want to work with people who you would hang out with socially?
Do you want to work for a company whose mission you support and believe?
If you have already reached the end of your rope with your job, you may believe that any change would be an improvement. Nevertheless, I have seen this type of thinking produce even worse conditions.
When writing a résumé and conducting the job search seem intimidating, it will be tempting to reach for the low hanging fruit and resort to doing whatever is easiest and seems to take the least amount of time. This usually means plopping in some new responsibilities that you assumed since you last updated your résumé, scouring job boards, and clicking apply.
This is exactly what leads to a cycle of frustration, disappointment, and hopelessness.
Take some time, and it doesn’t have to be much, to really think about what your next position and boss have to offer you in order to thrive and be successful. Maybe you do not change your role at all, but just the conditions under which you perform your next role. If you know you do not like your role, but you need to change and make an income, you might tend to think that you will do what is easiest. That is landing something you have the highest probability of getting because you did it already, and then take more time to search for something better while you are still working.
Hey, this is sometimes what you have to do, and recruiters will certainly tell you this is the most logical step (because you represent a placement fee). What I have seen happen more times than not is that people land, and they realize that they better perform if they want to keep their job. They put their efforts on hold for 90 days to obtain training in how to perform, and get to know the key players. That is 90 days wasted. They wind up miserable, and then have to try extra hard to seem motivated and engaged, when they are really already burned out. They come home, not only too tired to search job boards or attend networking meetings, but too tired to play card games with their kids or deal with the broken lawnmower. Not only do they feel like failures at their job, but they feel like failures at home. It bleeds into every area of their life, and they start to forget how brilliant and valuable they really are, which makes it that much harder to imagine interviewing. Essentially, they become “stuck.”
What you might not know is that you can land something you really like and would succeed in just as quickly with a clear vision of what you want. This includes a professionally branded résumé targeted to resonate with the employer who is able to offer you the conditions under which you will succeed, and an effective proactive campaign to find them and convince them that they need you.
You will not know if your résumé, however well-written and up-to-date, is effective until you know who’s reading it and what they need to know about you to identify you as the right fit. Furthermore, you will not know if your résumé is really a powerful tool in your success until the interviews that it garners are for jobs that you would really want and succeed in.
I think it is wise to have a plan A and a plan B. I challenge you, if you think that plan A is finding something lateral even though it will not make you happy, to invert which one is your plan A and which one is your plan B. Also, do not try to write your résumé until you know who you want to read it. (Then call us, because we will ask you all the right questions.)
Gary Vaynerchuk, Social Media and Business thought leader, believes strongly in meritocracy, where “you’re only as good as your last at bat.” If you don’t take the time to set yourself up for a successful next job by developing your criteria, you can lose value in the marketplace, decrease your competitive edge, and make it that much harder to find something that really suits you. This means a weakened career and income trajectory. It means a lesser quality of life.
We’ve certainly quoted Jim Carrey before, “You can fail at what you don’t want, so you might as well take a chance on doing what you love.”
It is not that it takes a lot of time to develop a good idea of what you really want; it is that you have to dig through layers and layers of untruths that you have come to believe about what is possible.
Remember, we have systems, services and tools to usher you through all of this – Career Development, Criteria Identification, Target Company Profiling, and Personal Branding.
Fill out and send us a needs assessment form and your most recent résumé and we will help you begin a career roadmap that actually helps you navigate to a happy place in your career.