Let me guess – you’ve spent months pouring over job descriptions, making a list of potential companies, bemoaning your lack of clarity to anyone with a set of ears, and scheduling informational interviews with your cousin’s boyfriend’s roommate, Pete. Yet despite your efforts, you remain unclear on your next career move.
When you start the job search in this way, you’re outsourcing your creative power and losing efficiencies. Here’s why:
Let’s say your future career is a giant, blank canvas. It’s pearly white, and full of creative possibilities for what picture it will become. When you start the job search by consulting search engines and asking other people where they think. your career could take you, it’s as if you’re handing them paint brushes, and asking them to paint their ‘should’s’ all over your blank canvas. After offering unsuitable opinions, they hand the brushes back and say “Good luck with that!”. You’re left holding the scrambled and conflicting brush strokes of other artists, none of whom drew what you really wanted. This is why you feel scatterbrained, confused, and limited in the job search.
So if you don’t start your job hunt with research what do you do first? Let the starting point of your job search be intrinsic, not extrinsic. Keep the brushes to yourself and allow your inner creator to face the blank canvas.
This intrinsic starting point begins on getting clear on what I call The Big Three: (1) who your Self is (2) what this Self needs to thrive at work and (3) whether or not you’re worthy of receiving these needs.
I’ve helped clients pivot and land the job of their dreams without much support on the execution of the job search itself. In fact, once clients are clear on The Big Three, the job search tends to take care of itself: the right people appear to open the right doors, the right job descriptions seem to ‘magically’ appear on LinkedIn. Let me show you how:
Let’s start with #1- Clarity on who your Self is.
When designing what you want next in your career and life, we want to first distinguish the voice of the Self.
According to the psychological theory called Internal Family Systems, we all have multiple Parts within ourselves that function like sub-personalities or like little people who have different goals and motivations; they have varying levels of maturity, curiosity, wisdom and pain.
In this theory, you might have a Part that is critical of yourself and others, another Part that is very driven and ambitious, and another Part that feels like the real you- calm, centered, and capable. This part is called the Self in Internal Family Systems. Other spiritual or philosophical texts call it the Higher Self, beginner’s mind, intuition, or just…you.
Why do we want to take orders from the Self? Because you wouldn’t take career advice from your fearful, manic aunt who tells you that the world is a scary place and you’ll forever be a Bag Lady if you follow your passion. You want to follow the calm, confident, centered guidance of an adult that is fully resourced and has your best interest at heart.
This Self, exists in every human, but some might experience more separation from this Self due to trauma, or addiction. In this instance, psychotherapy can help to heal this separation.
Developing conscious contact with the Self can be done in meditation, journaling, noticing how different people, places, or things feel in your body, or in conversation with a coach. A powerful way to begin to access the Self is by asking the question, “If fear weren’t present, what would I do for work?”. This allows the creativity of the Self to dip their brush in the paint and begin to create a radically new picture.
#2- Clarity on what your Self wants.
Once you’re more clear on how the Self thinks, feels and what they value, you can ask, “What does my Self really need from a career in order to thrive?” The answers to these questions form the basis of your Non-Negotiables List which will direct your job search. Your Self might tell you that in fact she does need flexible working hours, a sense of purpose, and to use her talent for data analysis in order to thrive in the workplace.
Notice how I said need, not want. Here’s how to differentiate between the two:
Say you have a list of wants like flexible working hours, a 20 minute commute, and working with brilliant people. Now in your mind, I want you to imagine that you’re at work in your future role and that ‘flexible working hours’ was taken away from you. Do you have a visceral response? What happens to your energy in that moment? Is your stomach churning or clenched? Do you feel suddenly small? These are all signs that ‘flexible working hours’ is a need, and belongs on your Non-Negotiables List.
Now let’s say ‘a 20-minute commute’ was taken off the table. Tune into your body – what’s happening? If you don’t have the same visceral response, it’s likely not a need but a want. This criteria would not fit on your Non-Negotiables List.
As a next step, I recommend asking the Self to step forward in meditation or journaling and asking this part of yourself, “What do I need from a career to thrive?”
#3- Clarity on your worthiness of receiving it.
We attract that which we believe we are worthy of receiving. Period.
By this point, you’re on a roll: you can discern the voice of your Self, and listen to what this Self needs to thrive at work. Awesome.
But another Part of you, the critical or fearful Part, doesn’t believe you are worthy of getting these needs met. “You want THAT Job? In this economy? Try again.”
Unworthiness burrows deep within the subconscious mind and makes itself a comfy home, equipped with big couches and a few flat screen TVs. It does not want to leave without a fight and we can’t blame it, can we?
The subconscious mind controls 95% of our behavior. Therefore, Unworthiness expresses itself in many forms: imposter syndrome, settling, lowering standards, not voicing your needs, playing small, self-sabotaging, self-harm, caveating, and many more. These behaviors are diametrically opposed to your ability to create a career and life that you desire. People can see unworthiness in your lack of confidence in an informational interview. People can feel unworthiness in your discomfort in your own skin.
Luckily, unworthiness cannot survive when you bring it out of its lair in the subconscious mind and make it live in the conscious mind. This can be done by first creating awareness around where the behaviors occur, second by identifying the beliefs that create that behavior, and third, reprogramming these beliefs. This work is best done with a coach or therapist who can help point out where unworthiness has set up shop in the dark, and bring it to the conscious light.
Imagine a future where you are in conscious contact with your Self, you know what you need in order to thrive at work, and you believe you’re deserving of landing a job with these criteria. Now imagine that person applying for the job they know is a good fit, and showing up to an interview full of clarity and confidence.
That’s an entirely more effective approach to the job search than strategizing with your unworthy, critical brain that’s hardwired to protect you from embarrassment and potential Bag Ladydom.
You can’t fix the problem with the same thinking that created it; transformation cannot occur in a vacuum. I recommend finding a highly skilled career coach that can help you navigate The Big Three before you waste anymore time on LinkedIn.