Deciding to quit your job may seem easy. Reasons are plenty – from organizational pain points and personal relations, to need of accomplishment or general dissatisfaction. Can it be remedied by changing job? And is it really the right way to shake up your career? Naturally the immediate step is to start browsing job boards, activate friends and contacts, and get in touch with headhunters.
But, while it might be easy to identify the reasons for leaving the current job, it is another story altogether to define the next one, or actually find it.
By jumping into an intensive job search, with your CV sent at semi-automatic rifle speed all around, you have a lot of chances to miss but few to hit. Not to mention that you burn your ammo – the prospective employers. If you failed to attract an employer’s attention, chances are you are ‘burned’ at this company for the foreseeable future.
On the other hand, not only one has to ensure the next job doesn’t have the same ‘issues’ as the current one. But also that these issues are not resulting from an inadequate fit between organization, job description, skill set and expectations.
This mixture can actually be explosive: can you imagine a sales engineer doing research in algorithms, or an administration expert working as sales manager? While these examples are extreme, we encounter glaring mismatches in every organization and at any hierarchy level. Did I tell you about the MBA appointed as Research Director, and got lost in translation?
The crucial question is therefore: Do you KNOW your next job? Do you know what you really want to do, and the environmental parameters that will make you thrive doing it? Here are 6 steps to revive your career and find the right and satisfying next job:
1. Take a day off: Sit down and write all what you don’t like about your past and current positions. Mark repetitive patterns. It should not degenerate into an exercise in negative energy. Rather, constructively try and define what you could agree to live with, and which are unacceptable transgressions.
2. Take another day off: Define in which environment your next job should be. Do you feel better in an international organization with thousands of employees, or do you prefer a smaller focused company? Would you rather be in the HQ dealing with business strategy, or a local subsidiary doing direct sales? Are you willing to move? To which locations/ countries? Do you thrive in a chaotic environment, or do you prefer clear directions? Are you a lone star who would happily work from home or do you need a collegial open office?… These are the boundary conditions allowing you to focus your future search for organizations and settings most adequate to you. Identify and list the companies that are most prone to fit your ideal. Get to learn about them via internet and friends, get a clear picture before you search for the adequate positions.
3. Correlate your skills, experience, education, and what can you do with them: Not just repeating CV stuff, but a true self-reflection on your abilities and expectations. It helps to browse job boards by keywords, to get a feeling of the market, nomenclature, and to initiate a coarse filtering of available options. Don’t be an account manager if you don’t want to keep the same position for a long period; choose a small start-up team if you want to have strong impact on a product strategy; You are a technical expert, but uncomfortable with customer interaction? Look for an R&D position;… This step is critical to ensure you will only look at options that really FIT you.
4. Put your dream position on paper: You are a sales engineer and want to be an account manager? Or you are a skilled programmer who now wants to lead a team? The path is clear. Make it also clear in your application. But if your dream job is far from where you are today, this is the moment to clarify how to get there. Be realistic: if you are a 40 year old programmer, you won’t become a medical doctor next Monday. In most cases however, far is about just one position away, if this position is well targeted. Rather than wandering in another unsatisfying job, evaluate if an intermediary step is a viable option.
Now is the time to start your job search:
5. Apply only to really well fitting positions: In a sense, the process is similar to choosing a new suit: if it is hastily chosen, chances are the colors won’t compliment you, the suit will not sit right. You will look and feel miserable – and you will never wear it again. Take your time, make informed choices, take measures, and you will find the one that is just for you, and in which you will look perfect. Apply only where and when it makes sense, it fits you perfectly and you have from the get-go a good feeling about it. This will also be positively felt by the recruiting side.
6. Make a dedicated, meaningful application: Very often, one tends to use a generic application cover, stating the boring and obsequious obvious. But now you have a chance to actually write stuff that matter: clearly write out why you apply to a specific position, make it stand out. It is not a sin to write your goals, especially if they fit the position. As each application is unique, this is time taking. But quality overcomes quantity any day of the week, and much fewer applications will bring significantly more interviews.
In order to efficiently shake up your career, take your time, make informed choices, evaluate carefully potential employers, and treat each job application as if it was the only one. You will find the job that is just for you – fitting perfectly your personality, skills, and ambition. Now that you KNOW your next job, go get it! And when they ask you in your next interview, “why did you apply”, you’ll know what to say.