If you are unhappy with the way your career is progressing or you just don’t like your current job, before you give your two-week notice, take a breath. Finding the perfect job is often like finding a marriage partner. You search for specific qualities and consider whether you can live with any of the obvious negatives you find. Don’t act too hastily when you want to change jobs. Take some time to consider what you really want to do and where you want your career to go. Here are some tips to find out what you really want.
Find Your Passion
Daydreaming is something that we have all done as children. As adults, we call it visualization. Take some time to visualize yourself in an ideal work environment that suits your personality and skills. That daydream may not be totally realistic, but it may contain elements for a better work environment that you seek.
What interested you as a child? This really is an important question. What books interested you? What movies or television shows did you watch and who caught your interest in those? What travel experiences did you have that left an impression? What still interests you?
What you do well? Make a short list of the things you can do well. What can you do well but don’t like doing? If there are things you are good at but really despise doing, look at related activities. In addition, finding out what you love to do but can’t do well is also helpful. You can receive training to improve skills for things you love to do. Often what moves your heart is closer to your true passion than what you think you like or should do in life. Brainstorm possible careers or positions that fit your interests.
Explore Your Career Interests
Research your career. Talk to a career counselor about what you think is the best career for your passion. Career counselors have tools that can help you narrow down your career search, such as comprehensive career assessment tests. Finding out you have a deficit in one area may not make it impossible to pursue a career that demands those skills, but it can help you make accommodations for it.
The next step is to act. Try out some of these career ideas. You can explore career options through internships, apprenticeships, and volunteering. Perhaps you can take vacation time from school or your current job to shadow someone whose career you’d like to explore. There is also nothing wrong with trying on a few career hats until you find one that suits your passion perfectly.
Investigate the Culture of a Company
Once you find the ideal career and position you would like to explore, find out more about companies that are offering jobs in your field. Look deeply into how the company handles its employees, what its mission statement is, how it deals with customers. Corporate or company culture is often referred to as the personality of the business.
You can find out about a company’s culture through business websites, internet searches, networking, on-site visits, and, of course, interviews. The About page of a company website often lists who started the company, what its goals are, and its mission and ethics. Internet searches can unearth news about the company. Some websites like Glassdoor have reviews written by employees. Business publications (Business Insider, Entrepreneur, etc.) often have annual lists of companies with the best cultures.
Networking is also another way to find out about a company’s culture. Ask friends and mentors. Talk to employees or former employees of a company you are interested in. Talk to college alumni who participated in internships at the company. You can even set up an informational interview with someone at the business just to ask questions.
On-site visits are another way to find out more. Take a tour of the facility. Shadow someone in the company or do a brief internship or apprenticeship. You will not be making a long-term commitment, but you can get a better idea of what the company is about by seeing how it feels to work there. And, of course, asking questions during a job interview can give you an opportunity to ask how an employer about company culture.
Everything Glamorous Isn’t Always Gold
As you look for your perfect job, look for the hidden secrets that may lurk within. You might be offered a great salary, awesome perks, and even a fancy office or exotic working location. But will this be a good fit? Consider the company’s culture, your own values, your goals, and your known deal breakers. What will you not tolerate in a new position? Are there practices that make you uncomfortable? Not every door that is opened means you must walk through it.
Look for hidden secrets within the employees. Are there cliques within the business? Is there gossip or complaining? Who is the most vocal? Is there any bad mouthing of the company among employees? Are co-workers constantly job-hopping? If any of this exists, there is a serious issue internally. These behaviors don’t foster good team-building or productivity.
Don’t Make Money Your Goal
Many people think that making a lot of money is the goal of any successful career. Financial security is a proper motivator, but it shouldn’t be the primary reason to pursue any profession. This can limit your options and lead to dead-end positions. If you are pursuing your passion because it’s a part of how you identify yourself and it’s what drives you every single day, then that becomes your motivation for coming to work. Because you are following your heart, you’re rewarded through financial means. Your passion doing what you love often earns the respect of your peers and your supervisors. This combined with good work can boost you toward higher levels of success.
Take some time before you turn in your two-week notice to think about what you really want to do with your career.
(Note: Advice given here comes from Tidbits for the Emerging Pineapple Professional by Dr. DeQuan M. Smith and Davonne Reeves.)
Dr. Smith is a globally-recognized educator, author, career strategist, and contributor in the higher education field. Dr. Smith currently serves as the Associate Director of Graduate Education and the Co-Director of Career Services at Morehouse School of Medicine. As an educator, he employs an integrated mix of educational and practical approaches to his work, using a variety of modalities, while encouraging critical thinking, personal growth, teamwork, and cultural diversity. Whether in the classroom or as an industry executive, he strives to inspire students and employees to become dynamic leaders.
As a servant leader, his commitment to collaboration, dedication to inclusion, data-informed decision making, creativity, and ability to unmask hidden potential within individuals allows him to provide motivation to the current and emerging leaders entering the workforce.