Did you ever buy a pair of jeans that didn’t quite fit? This is how most people go about job searching. Most job-seekers find a job posting that seems cool, fits their immediate need, or matches what their family thinks make logical sense based on their experience and financial needs. Once the candidate finds the job posting, the majority of his or her time is spent trying to tailor and fit who he or she is to the job requirements. Alas, you have a cool pair of uncomfortable jeans that don’t fit.
While this approach has merits, it skips helpful steps, like thinking about your overall happiness. Instead of fitting yourself to meet the job, how about having the job fit you? This job transition plan may take longer in the short-term (between three and nine months), but you’ll likely be happier in the long-term.
Are you ready for a new way of thinking about job searching? Ready for a transition plan for a new job?
LET GO. It’s hard to think about your ideal job if you’re still carrying old baggage. Maybe it’s your fond memories of being a student, or a challenging job situation. Try to let go of any trauma, remorse, insecurities, negative attitudes or beliefs you may harbor from the place you left (being fired or laid off, for example). These stories of woe and remorse create self-doubt and often confuse you. Find some way of learning the life lesson and move forward. This is an important step to take before putting together your job transition plan.
JOB TRANSITION PLAN. A valid concern during this transition period is about finances. Put together a job transition plan that looks at your financial obligations, savings and timeline. This job transition plan will provide a safety net so you feel more secure. Basics of a plan include looking at your typical monthly expenditures, your savings goals, and figuring out what you need to do in the immediate future to bridge any gaps.
ENERGIZE. In the early stages of any job transition, it’s normal to have feelings of lethargy, anger and blame. Instead of letting these emotions overwhelm you with concern about your mental health or general ability to get things done, try to accept them and view them as cues to relax, contemplate and reflect. A 30-minute quiet walk in the woods or a nap can work wonders to renew your energy. Think of yourself as similar to a car: If your tank’s on empty, you’re not going anywhere.
GET CLEAR. One of the key areas to reflect on during this time is what you want in your next job. Try journaling thoughts on your ideal job. Reflect on previous jobs or classes as examples of what sort of people, environment, job responsibilities, etc., you like and don’t like. Next, get clear about who you are-and who you aren’t. What kind of person did you always admire or want to be? What are your values? What are your strengths? Reflect on these ideas and thoughts. Write down summary statements that define you and your ideal job. This documentation is an important part of your transition plan for a new job.
DREAM. It’s easy for us to forget our passions and dreams. As you reflect, tap into your joy. Draw, sing, dance, hike, meditate, do anything you love. It’s often during these times that you are completely free and liberated from the oppression of the rational part of you and you access the creative, dreaming part of yourself. Never judge your dreams. You may not be able to be a ballerina at age 50, but try to stay curious. What could you do as a lawyer at age 50 that would honor the spirit of what you cared about when you were younger? Maybe it’s getting more involved in the arts. Sometimes these dreams translate to jobs or carving out time in your next career so these basic needs are met.
RESEARCH. Once you have a clear sense of what you want, the next step is finding jobs that meet those needs. As they come up, start writing them down. Force yourself to stretch and write down eight to 10 jobs as part of your transition plan for a new job. If you need, ask a friend to help you brainstorm. From that list there will likely be one or two that bedazzle you. Let your energy lead you to exploring those areas. Ask friends if they know anyone in the jobs or industry or if they can think of jobs that fit your criteria.
OPEN TO ALL. During this discovery stage you should play detective. It’s fine to have a working hypothesis, but don’t start locking down too early. Be open to discovery. Often what arises is a job that meets your criteria, but isn’t at all what you initially pictured. Throughout the discovery period try to let your energy, excitement and intuition have a role that’s equal to your logical and rational side.
These steps are a precursor to the traditional way of finding a job. The remaining steps are what most of us follow today (resumes, interviews, etc.). Do the work above and you will have unlocked and discovered your dreams, your heart, and hopefully have more fun in the process.
C.J. Liu is a certified professional coach, who helps professionals define success on their own terms. C.J. has taught for the University of Washington, Program for Early Parent Support, and is an adjunct staff from Centerpointe. Email C.J. Liu.