What’s the first thing to do when you want to find work?
a) Look at jobs posted on a job search board
b) Update your resume
c) Tell your friends and connections you’re looking
The correct answer to the above? It’s not a, b or c. No, while all of them are good things to do when you’re looking for work, none of them should be the first thing you do if you want to be successful.
Yes, I’ll admit that dusting off a resume and updating your phone number, making a dozen copies and dropping them off in person to some employers just might get you a job. I’ll further admit that as long as it gets you the job you’re after, you’re not likely take advice from me or anyone else – until how you go about finding work doesn’t work – and neither do you. Then, and only then, might you be open to other ideas and suggestions.
No, the first step to successfully finding your next job or launching your career is to do a full self-assessment. Know yourself, and be able to articulate or clearly share all the many things that collectively make you who you are. It’s only when you really know who you are and what makes you tick that you have the best chance to find work that will really bring you job satisfaction and happiness.
So, do you know the following:
- Your work values
- The style of supervision you work best under
- Your learning style
- The things which motivate you
- Why you want / need to work
- Your financial needs (how much you need to earn)
- Your financial value in the marketplace
- Your problem solving style
- Your liabilities, weaknesses and challenges
- Your strengths and competitive advantages
- Your leadership style
- Your work ethic
- How long you plan to work in your next role
- Your openness to shift work, overtime, part-time, full-time, permanent, contract or seasonal work
- The extent to which you’ll travel to get to your next job
- Your own philosophy with respect to work
- Your comfort and ease with, and integration to teamwork
- The state of your listening skills
- The validity of any certificates and licences you’ve held
- Which skills you wish to use moving forward in your next job
- Your own personal idea of happiness and success
- Your preference for working with things, data, people or information
- Your personality traits and how they fit with various environments
- Your receptiveness and willingness to learn
- Your personal employment barriers
So, come on, let’s be honest. When have you ever started your job search by first looking at all – not just some – of the things above BEFORE looking at a job board?
I tell you this – if you want to be successful; and I mean long-term successful, start your job search differently than you ever have before and look at the above. While you might point out that you’ve never done this in the past and have managed to find jobs before (than you very much), how happy have you been in those jobs and haven’t you felt there had to be something better?
Successful people are generally the ones who, in the course of their work, find great personal job satisfaction and happiness. They are grateful for the opportunity to do what they do, and they look forward to going in because they find fulfillment and purpose throughout their days. When they leave work, they know they’ve done their best, made a difference, contributed their skills and experience and made their time worthwhile to their employer. These people don’t find such jobs by chance and luck.
Knowing what you like and don’t like, your strengths and areas for improvement is only a start. In all likelihood, you may not be able to answer all 25 questions I’ve posed here without some guided support, help that you’ll later appreciate. When you know yourself fully, you not only end up in the right kind of work, you end up tracking down the right employer for you; the one that has the specific environment where you’ll thrive.
Don’t think that this process is reserved only for the rich and those going for high paying jobs. That would be a huge assumption and mistake on your part. Sometimes the ones who get the most out of doing these full self-assessments are your everyday Labourer, blue-collar or middle class worker.
Look, I don’t like all-encompassing statements because honestly they seldom actually apply to everybody, but perhaps it’s safe to say we all want a career or job that will bring us a measure of happiness and decent pay for the work we do. Happiness; have you really sat down and defined what happiness looks like for you personally though? So many factors go in to being happy at work; it’s not just the job itself.
I know many people – a large number of people, who now in their fifties, say they’ve never had a job that they can honestly say they were truly passionate about. Some paid well, others brought them some happy moments, but many were ones they’d rather have avoided looking back. The idea of doing a personal inventory or assessment is something they never considered but now wish they’d done a long time ago. The thing about a self-assessment is that you and me; we should all do one every few years because we change.
Job search step one? Self assessment.