Finding the job you want isn’t a problem exclusive to fresh college graduates. Even years of employment can eventually bring you to the point where you start to think about the next steps.
As most job-hunters know, choosing the right opportunity is far from simple. No longer are jobs simply ways to make money. Now, most of us rely on our professions to help us make a significant impact on ourselves or others.
While a small element of luck would be helpful in this quest, we created this guide so you can discover how to figure out the job you want without relying so much on chance.
Find Your ‘Why’
Depending on where you are in life, a job may mean differently to you as it does to other people.
If you just graduated from university, you might be looking for a job that will help you gain experience to take on more significant projects in the years to come. You might also be a single parent looking for a way to support your family without sacrificing your time with your kids, or perhaps, you’re a professional looking for a nurturing office environment to take root in and grow.
While there are hundreds of checklists available about how to figure out what job you want and what to look for in it, the only person who can most accurately determine what you need is you.
- Are you looking for better compensation so you can save up for your future?
- Is finding a mentor to help you find the next step a bigger priority for you?
- How strongly would a flexible work schedule affect your life?
- Would relocation impact you negatively or positively?
- Are you looking for a job that would serve as a stepping stone, or as an endpoint that will allow you to stay until retirement?
Take time to reflect on what your next job would mean your life as a whole. Discern what you are looking for, so you actually know where you want to go.
Identify Your Point A and Your Point B
Now that you’ve identified your end goal, it’s time to assess your current situation and compare it to your ideal one.
Currently, what in your life is working, and what are not?
Here is a list of a few things you can look into:
- Skills: What skills do you have? Are there skills you want to develop?
- Time: Do you have enough time for things that matter to you?
- Compensation: Is what you’re earning enough to fund the life you want?
- Lifestyle: Are you satisfied with the kind of lifestyle your job affords you?
- Preference: Do you like working alone? Do you prefer collaboration?
- Colleagues: Are the people you’re working with impacting you positively?
- Culture: Do you feel like you fit in?
- Values: Are you currently compromising values and principles that are important to you?
- Growth: Do you find yourself being better in the way that you want, every day?
- Impact: Are you working on something significant in others’ lives?
- Future: Is what you’re currently doing taking you where you want to go? Is it taking you anywhere at all?
It might be helpful to make a chart indicating what your current answers are, and what you would like your answers to be.
|Criteria||Point A |
(Current job: Retail Salesperson)
|Point B |
(Future: To be determined)
|High||Time||48 hours a week||Time to rest |
Time to be with family and friends
|Medium||Skills||Customer service |
Transcribing and encoding
|Develop entrepreneurship and business skills|
|High||Compensation||$24,630 a year and ample benefits||$30,000 a year or up |
Still great benefits
|Low||Preference||Working mostly independently||Learning from other people|
Another helpful column to add is for “Priority”. Aligning to your ‘why’, identify the factors that would make an impact on achieving this and those that are relatively insignificant.
Once this is ready, you are prepared for the next step.
Arm Yourself with Self Awareness
With an understanding of what your point A looks like, honestly assess yourself. What are you good at, and what are your weaknesses? Is that something that is possible for you to work on? What are the things you are confident about handling on your own? What do you need guidance with?
How to figure out what job you want? Be aware of certain biases: The Imposter Syndrome and the Dunning-Kruger Effect. The earlier makes you feel like you don’t deserve your achievements. The latter, on the other hand, is the tendency to believe that you are better than how you actually are.
Just as it is with any important decision, look for facts. List down projects and roles that you excelled in based on tangible metrics or unbiased testimonials. Be objective about failures and subpar performance.
This step requires you to be brutally honest for your own sake. Despite the fact that you will definitely grow in the future, have a healthy appreciation and acceptance for now.
Facing the side of you that you wish were better, it is important to understand that there is room for growth in everyone and that this does not disqualify you from all available opportunities.
Certainly, it will limit your choices; but in this context, being able to narrow options down is a good thing. Go for a good mix of things that you feel fully qualified for, and some that will require you to stretch to a reasonable extent.
Lying to yourself or to your future employer may land you a better opportunity than what you’re competent for in the short term, but more likely than not, this plan will put you in a job that is not a good fit. How to figure out what job you want includes being honest at this stage that in turn, will also allow your future employer to help you better.
Find Available Job Opportunities
With a rich arsenal of vision and self-awareness, you are now ready for the hunt.
There are several ways to look for job opportunities. Online, you can use sites such as LinkedIn, Jobstreet, and Kalibrr. Social media is also a viable option. Look for Facebook groups catered for professionals in your industry, or for job-hunters in general, such yourself. For freelance work, websites such as Upwork, Fiverr, Hubspot Talent, and Monster are common go-to’s.
Your network is also a great way to look for open job posts. Don’t be afraid to tell friends and family that you are open to opportunities. If you have a great reputation that precedes you or is simply a good person, they might be able to connect you to opportunities you otherwise would not have encountered.
Job hunting is a time to be resourceful. Attend events, talk to people, be open. This may be a tedious process, but it’s good to find a way to enjoy it. Appreciate the support you’ll get, and use it as an opportunity to know more about yourself.
Piece Them All Together
Now that you have a list of opportunities you are possibly qualified for, it’s time to align facts and perceptions once again. This time, however, we will shift the focus to the opportunities, and not just to ourselves.
Not all available jobs will tick all your boxes, but this is why setting priorities related to your vision is very important. Classify opportunities according to the impact that they will make in helping you in your journey towards your point B, and start applying and scheduling interviews.
Some openings may be scary, but if you have facts that tell you that it might be a good fit for you, then I suggest that you take the plunge. It’s not often that we are forced to take ownership of our strengths and weaknesses, but for this particular point in your life, it is absolutely necessary.
Remember that job interviews are two-way. Just as it is important for your prospective employer to get to know you to identify if you’re someone they want to work with, it is likewise important for you to assess if they are people you want to work for.
A few helpful things to look into are:
- What does a typical day in the job look like?
- Who will you be working with?
- What are their expectations of you?
- Is overtime the norm?
- How is feedback relayed?
- How do people get promoted?
How to figure out what job you want includes researching companies and job opportunities thoroughly. While company websites are helpful, try to find unbiased opinions and testimonials as well.
Finding the next step in your professional life can be challenging. Not only do you have to face peer and/or financial pressures, but you will also have to be brutally honest with yourself, regardless of whether or not you like what you will see.
Use the steps mentioned above to learn how to figure out the job you want, but also, to have a deeper understanding of yourself.
Job hunting pushes you to come face-to-face with your strengths and weaknesses, successes, and failures. While possibly taxing, they can also be very enlightening.
Embrace this opportunity as another chance to learn about you and your capabilities. Enjoy the process. Remember that success is a journey and not a destination.