I’ve been talking to a few people about their job searches. Some, without actively looking, have been recruited and tempted to explore. They have good prospects, companies are granting them interviews and even offers. So what’s the problem? They don’t seem to know if they should stay in their current role or make a move. Then I ask them a very specific question: “What do you want?”
It’s a basic question and we think we know the answer. The truth is, however, often we don’t.
We haven’t taken the time to sit with ourselves to figure out the details that go into what would bring true career happiness.
When I ask this question, the answers are rather similar, usually hinting at growth or a promotion. But that’s just not specific enough. Because my next question is often met with silence: “Growth to what?”
What is it that you want to grow into? What skills do you want to utilize and improve upon as you further develop in your career? These choices are not always easy to make. If you’re a person with many skills and interests, it can be difficult to choose. There’s the fear of making the wrong choice, not to mention that letting go of responsibilities and areas of expertise in exchange for advancing your role in others can come with a sense of loss you weren’t expecting.
But the fact remains, you must make choices if you want to move forward. So how do you come up with an answer to “What do you want?”
1. Focus on Skills:
You have skills you’re currently using and skills you know you want to gain. First identify skills that matter to you. What do you value about the skills you use in your current job? Are there skills you would be okay letting go of? Which skills actually bring you joy?
2. Uncover Your Values:
Your job and work experience is not solely made up of the skills you’re using or the tasks you perform. Whether you know it or not, you have a set of values that mean something to you in your job. It could be anything from being part of the leadership team and working in a collaborative environment to knowing that the work you do has meaning and a greater purpose. Getting clear on these values is critical when figuring out if a job is right for you.
3. Include Your Brand:
Your brand can be a powerful tool. Do you know if you even have a personal brand? What are you known for? Does everyone in your office come to you for help with tough negotiations? When colleagues ask you for help writing an important email, do they always compliment your communication style? What one thing are you the best at and what is the result of doing it? Does your writing unify employees? Does what you sell make people feel beautiful and more confident? Your brand is not only what you do best, but why you love doing it.
Once you’ve evaluated your skills, values and brand, create a personalized list to use as a comparative tool against potential job opportunities. Then focus your search on roles that satisfy your list and allow your brand to shine through your work.