Those who work with me or follow my posts know that I’m a stickler for figuring out what you want and where that is before marketing or going out and getting it. Knowing what you do not want is a crucial piece to the whole process.
Take a look at the gloomy side
Once you’ve gone down memory lane to assess what you want, take some time to brainstorm your career goals around what’s not worked well for you in the past. Go a step further. Give yourself permission to write what you REALLY disliked—or even hated! Copy and paste the bulleted items below into a Word document or put pen to paper. Make it a worksheet, applying them to as many of your past jobs as you can.
- THE JOB (Title and company / organization).
- THE GIST OF THE JOB (What you did, who you worked with, how it fit into the overall organization, etc.)
- WHY DID YOU HATE IT SO MUCH? (Try and come up with 3-5 things)
- WHAT DID YOU LIKE ABOUT THIS JOB? (Try and come up with at least 2 things)
Your lines in the sand
Why should you do the above? Because it could give you an ah-hah moment! Early in our work together, my client Janice said that she had left her prior job because of her boss. “He was not supportive,” she told me. After working through the do not want exercise, Janice said, “Barb, I was wrong about Mr. Johnson. What really drove me out was the long commute through bad weather and high traffic. I’m willing to make lots of compromises in my next job to avoid a long commute. It’s a non-negotiable for me.”
Janice had stumbled onto a great piece of introspective knowledge. Something she would not do again. Taking time to be clear about what we well, yes—hate, could mean all the difference in not ruining an otherwise great fit. A big chunk of your dream job is going to be avoiding the things you hate. Take what you learned from the exercise at the beginning of this post, and use the following examples to help you figure out your non-negotiables or lines in the sand. Feel free to come up with your own of course:
- Commute: I won’t commute more than ____ minutes a day.
- Compensation: I won’t work for less than $_____ a year.
- Travel: I won’t travel more than ____%.
- Value: I won’t work for an organization where I can’t contribute to make a difference.
- Culture: I won’t work for an organization that/where (is family-owned, is highly political, everyone’s hush-hush and not trusting, everyone is burning out on the workload / pressure, etc.).
- Career Map: I can’t work for a company where there is nowhere to grow.
- Company Solidity: I won’t work for an organization (in a dying industry, another start-up, that relies on shrinking grant monies, etc.).
- Resources: I won’t work for a company that (does not invest in training, technology, etc.).
Stick to it
Write down 10 things you do not want to do. Please don’t skip this step. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve coached with clients who verbally articulated to me what they hate, only to then send me job postings that would involve something sworn off. Or to say they had an interview with an employer who could be the poster child for the type of company the job-seeker client detested! Write the hate list down! And don’t stop there. Give the list to someone you trust to hold you accountable to the list.
You deserve to do what you love for a living—even in a tough economy! Eliminating the things that won’t cut it for you, is an important step in finding that job that makes you jump out of bed on Monday morning!
Photo: Horia Varlan