Eliminate The Negative – A Fresh Job Search Approach
A lot of people are unhappy at work. It might be a micromanaging boss or crazy coworkers. They know they want to leave, and they want to leave now. The problem is they don’t have a clue as to what they want to do next.
If they do want to stay in a similar position, there’s the question of what type of company? Would a smaller company be better than a large corporation? Or vice versa?
The trick to getting unstuck is to change your approach. Instead of trying to figure out what you do want, decide what it is you don’t want. Begin by listing all the jobs you’ve held.
Next, consider every aspect of each position. Write down everything that you didn’t enjoy, things that made you unhappy. Pretty soon you will see some patterns, patterns that will help you define your new job.
The following checklist is a jumping off point. Add your own ideas. Your answers will help you refine your job search.
- What skills have you used in your previous positions? Which adaptable, transferable and job-related skills? Which of your daily activities didn’t you enjoy?
- What type of people did you work with? Strong, assertive individuals? Creative sorts? Which personality type drove you crazy every day?
- What type of atmosphere did you work in? Fast-paced, goal-oriented, driven? Relaxed, easy-going, go-with-the-flow? Does the phrase, “There’s nothing that can’t be done tomorrow” make your hair stand on end?
- Were you in a position of authority? Did you have a lot of responsibility? Did you enjoy being in charge? Are you tired of being responsible for everyone else’s work?
- Did you work in a structured environment or was there a lot of flexibility? Did you hate seeing your colleagues come and go as they pleased? Or did you promise yourself you’d never work on the weekends again?
- Were you autonomous? Or was your boss a micromanager? Do you prefer direction or do you want the option of prioritizing your own work?
- Did you most often work by yourself or as part of a team? Did you like collaborating? Or do you prefer to work on your own?
- How was the office set up? Did the “open office” environment make it impossible for you to concentrate? Or did you feel claustrophobic in your cube?
As you work on your list, your values will begin to emerge. It will become clear what’s important to you. Maybe you enjoy working alone. Perhaps you need to work in a relaxed, flexible environment. On the other hand, a go-with-the-flow culture might drive you crazy.
When reviewing your list remember it’s essential to be honest with yourself. This means eliminating any values you think you “should” have.
Maybe you come from a family of accountants. But, you find sitting in a cube crunching numbers sucks the life out of you. Now is the time for you to be truthful. Focus on what’s important to you.
What ideas or values do you want to be reflected in your next position? As you go through this process you may find that some of your values conflict with one another. If that happens you’ll need to make a choice. For example, if working for a CPA firm drains you, you may want to explore accounting positions in a corporate or nonprofit environment.
If making more money is important but so having a flexible schedule you’ll need to look for a job that satisfied both. If you can’t find that you may have to decide what is most important right now. Take your time. Think carefully about each answer.
When you’re finished with the process use what you’ve learned to write a brief statement or even a list describing what you don’t want to do on your next position. At this point you probably already have a good idea of what you do want. Sometimes the best way to uncover the positive is to eliminate the negative.
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