Don’t you just hate it when you complain about your job to someone and they tell you how lucky you are to have a job? Yes, you want to have a job, but you also want to be happy. Happy workers are actually 12% more productive, so you’re on the right track! If you aren’t satisfied in your current line of work, it’s time to get focused and find your career.
A career is defined as an occupation that you have for a significant amount of your life with opportunities for advancement. The good news is that you are the one who gets to decide what you want your career to be or look like and you are also the one who decides what “advancement” means. While your boss may only “advance” you with a promotion after a certain number of years, if they pay for courses related to your work in skills you want to learn, that right there is a great form of advancement.
Unfortunately, it is very difficult to find a job that we love 100% of the time. While you’re on your quest to find your career, take notes of what you enjoy doing and what you don’t enjoy. An example of this might be that you love your job but hate your commute. While you may need to keep the same job for a year or more, now you know that you want to search harder for a similar job that is located closer to where you live. Another example might be paperwork. At one office you may be required to do all your own paperwork, while at another office they’ve invested in an office manager who assists with those types of tasks. Which office would make you happier?
Taking notes is the first step for building a road map to find your career. Here are the next steps to take:
- Ask Yourself “What do you do?”
When someone asks, “What do you do?” Often our first response is to tell them our job title and the company we work for. That is not enough to build your road map, so keep your pen out and ask yourself what you really do at your job. What have you achieved, what aspects of the job do you enjoy the most, what aspects of the job do you hate, why did you decide to work for this company, what is your dream company like, what are you good at, what areas do you want to improve in?
Once you’ve finished this task for your current job, work your way down your resume and answer these questions for as many past jobs as you can. Do you notice any patterns about what you’ve done in the past, what you’ve enjoyed or not enjoyed?
- Map Out Long Term Goals
Now that you’ve worked your way down your resume and checked for patterns, it’s time to think about how your past and current situations relate to your long term goals. If you continue your current job for another year, will you learn new skills that are important, will you advance in the company, will you be happy enough?
If you are happy enough and your current job does lead you down a winding path towards your long term goals, then you are already one step closer on your road map! Ask yourself if your current job takes you to where you want to be in 5-10 years. If it doesn’t, what skills do you need to learn and how do you need to advance to reach your long term goals? Understanding that you need to leave your current job in two years for another job gives you time to map out what kind of company you will be looking to work for and what kind of job you need to be doing.
If you are unhappy in your current job and you are not learning new skills or advancing towards any of your career goals, take a breath. You have so much potential and you will find a job that fits what you’re looking for. At the moment, your current job helps pay the bills, so that is a positive. Don’t up and quit without using your road map to secure your next job. Quitting your job without a plan will put stress on you and force you to accept another job that may not be the right fit. Find networking groups in your area or online where you can talk to people who are living your dream life in your dream career. People are always open to talk about their experiences, so take them out for coffee and learn as much as you can. Show them the beginning of your road map if you want to get their feedback.
You can also take a few courses outside of work that build on the skills you need to advance towards your dream career. Don’t let a bad job hold you down! Take your life in your own hands and build yourself up. There are even lots of free courses and resources online that could get you started on your road map.
- Build an Action Plan
Your road map needs to be more than a map, it needs to be actionable.
Here are some actionable steps you can take:
- If there are aspects of your job that you are not enjoying or were not what you initially thought the job entailed, talk to your Manager and/or an HR rep. You may be able to negotiate doing less of the tasks you hate or adding more of the tasks you enjoy to balance out your job. If there is a different job within the company that aligns more with your career path, make sure your Manager and HR rep know that you’re interested in that position if it ever opens up.
- Start networking. LinkedIn and Twitter are good places to start for online networking. You can join relevant groups on LinkedIn and participate in Twitter chats that discuss topics you’re interested in. You can also search for local networking events or Meetups where you can meet other people in your field and create connections. Employers are more likely to hire someone who has a recommendation from someone they know, so meet as many people as you can and build connections that will help you along your road map.
- Search for new opportunities. Keep your options open, and your standards high. Back from step 1 and 2, you should know the aspects of a job you enjoy and are looking for, what skills you want to learn, what kind of company you want to work for and the options for advancement that matter to you. Armed with all of this information you can filter through job descriptions like a boss (or a well-seasoned recruiter) and ask important questions during job interviews.
- Talk to a recruiter. Recruiters can be a friend and a mentor during your job search if you connect with the right one. Many recruiters are specialized in one area and will know the ins and outs of the career path you’re looking to take. Advice on finding the right recruiter can be found here: http://peoplesource.ca/blog/not-just-any-recruiter/
- Take Action
You’ve made a road map to find your career and you know the action steps to get there. Now the only thing to do is take action and be on your way. As you follow your customized career plan, keep taking notes of what is making you happy in your job and how you’re moving forward on your road map. People change, so if your initial plan stops working, go back to step 1 and see what’s changed so you can tweak your direction.
Creating your road map and moving forward might take time, but never give up. Luck is an important element for your job search but luck can be helped by your effort, actions, and passion. Good luck!