I’ve got good news and bad news.
First, the bad news: If you’re currently looking for work, you’ve got homework to do.
Homework? Seriously? I know, I know. Nobody likes to do homework.
But here’s the good news: This homework is something you already know well. This homework is on yourself. And the benefits of doing this now will become permanent.
In fact, doing this work will not only affect your career, but every other aspect of your life. It’s that powerful.
So, what is the homework, exactly?
It’s finding clarity. It’s becoming clear about what you really want and finding the words to say it out loud. And once you find your clarity, everything changes.
With more clarity comes alignment; with alignment comes more momentum. And with more momentum comes confidence. And confidence will lead you right to the decisions that will line you up with your next career opportunity.
But you’ve got to work at it. And I’m not talking about hitting virtual streets and pounding virtual pavement to find your next job. That’s so 20th century. This is about working smarter, not harder.
Making an investment in yourself always pays off.
The first step? Upgrading your old belief systems. Let’s start by debunking some of the myths:
Resumes are the most important thing. Resume, shresume. Many people still believe that a great resume will find you a job. Hate to break it to you, but your resume only plays a small part in the overall process—finding career opportunities are more about the connections you make and the conversations you have. Sure, a clear and succinct resume is important, but it’s only a snapshot of your past—the rearview mirror. Your focus needs to be forward—the windshield.
Networking is for finding a job. Slow down, Buckaroo. While making connections with new people may lead to opportunities to connect with others, which may lead to potential job possibilities, don’t use networking to get a job—use it to build authentic relationships. And when meeting someone new, don’t firehose them with unimportant details about your past—talk about your present and future, and keep it short and sweet. Think “60-second YouTube highlight film”, and not the 6-DVD anthology. Simplify.
I can’t find any jobs that fit me. Think it’s bad now? It’s even more difficult when you don’t know what you want. In fact, when you’re not clear about what you want, you can waste lots of time trying to figure it out by searching outside yourself. How about a different approach? Instead of looking for yourself out there, try going within yourself first. Clarity is about discovering what makes you tick, lights you up, and feels so natural to you that you could do it in your sleep. That is alignment; that is connection; that’s true clarity. First, find the words; then find the job.
Thinking about myself is selfish and being selfish is wrong. The word selfish actually means “belonging to self,” so I’m here to tell you that belonging to yourself can be a very good thing in a very good way. If you are not focused on yourself in healthy and balanced ways, how are you ever going to build confidence? Resilience? Tenacity? When you’re happy and fulfilled, you can be a positive resource and support for those around you. Does that feel possible? Try it out.
To find your clarity, think about what you really want and find the words to express it. And although there are many ways to do this, my advice is to process it in three steps:
Step 1: Start by identifying what you don’t want. Why? Because that’s easy—you already know it. Whether you’ve “been there, done that” or remember a bad experience, you have stories. And our stories are powerful—they give us contrast.
Step 2: From the contrast of what you don’t want, now think about what you do want. What feels possible? Fun? Natural? What do you really want to be doing? Where? And with whom?
Step 3: Finally, what are you willing to accept along the way to what you want? Our journey is always a path with many twists and turns, so this is important because it’s a natural part of the unfolding process. It also helps us to create boundaries or deal-breakers along the way. How flexible are we willing to be between what we want and don’t want? Map it out, and the clarity will come.
Need help getting started? Download my free clarity tool, the Personal Priority Grid (PPG™) at michaelcreative.com/ppg. The grid includes a template with instructions to guide you through these steps and kickstart your clarity and momentum in a positive direction.
And after you’ve filled out your PPG™, schedule a free 30-minute call with me so we can talk it through and get you back on track to your next career opportunity.
We’re all in this together!
Michael Thomas Sunnarborg is a career coach, best-selling author, and founder of The White Box Club™ — live coaching and resources for people in career transition. Find his syndicated blogs on Thrive Global, Medium, and The Huffington Post. Learn more at connect.michaelcreative.com