I always forget how much I love the Fall until October, when everything starts moving toward winter, and something makes me feel like sautéing sliced apples with cinnamon and butter for breakfast and walking to the Cal stadium for a football game. The trees are definitely losing their leaves, and the days are getting shorter, despite the sunny weather hanging over past its prime. Nonetheless, here we are again, hurtling toward the holidays, cold weather or not.
The Phone Calls
My phone rings more insistently right about now: time to change jobs, time to change careers, time to go back to school, time to do something different. Whatever the factors have brought you to this moment, and no matter how ready you are for a change, it turns out not to be a simple snap of the fingers that makes it happen in the exact timeframe you wish you could. Before you jump, you’ll have to stop, look, listen to yourself, and reorient and get clear about the next step that makes sense in your career evolution. Your next step should improve upon your previous step.
What’s Your Story?
To get clear about where you are headed, you have to do some thinking about where you have been. Allow your self-knowledge and wisdom guide you as you reflect on your work and life experiences to this point. You will recognize what is working by how you feel about each item on your list. They are the things that bring you satisfaction, pride, enjoyment. You want to keep doing those things and even make more room for them, if you want to raise your satisfaction quotient.
Next, think about what is not working for you. Those things will tend to jump out at you and be very obvious because they are causing you pain! They usually “yell” at you and say things like, “I HATE this commute!”, “I can’t stand my boss!”, “I am bored out of my wits!”. The things you hate actually point to actions you can take to make your job more satisfactory and your life happier.
Clarity is not exactly something to force into existence; it is something that will emerge as you enter into sincere thinking, reflection, conversation, self-acceptance and desire to fulfill whatever is missing in your work or life. Allow the clarity that emerges to be your guide as you design a target that includes what you want, what you don’t want, and where you want to go in the future. If you don’t know what you are looking for, how will you go about finding it?
It is important to get the resume right. It can’t just tell the story of what you have done in the past; it needs to also tell the story of where you are headed in the future. You should be aiming toward the next step, and for you to be satisfied, it will probably require that you stretch a bit, not just look for another example of what you have already done. That’s a good way to get bored, rather than growing toward the next step. The resume should tell the story of who you actually are and not be filled with empty “resume” language.
The Cover Letter
The cover letter is your opportunity to bring some personality into the imaginary conversation that goes on in your head when you discover an opportunity that wakes you up inside. What you put into the cover letter can and should be as authentic as you can make it. Do not simply say, “Enclosed you will find my resume. I am sure you will see that my background makes me a perfect candidate for the job.” If that is all you have to say, forget saying anything at all. If, however, you have something interesting or notable to say about your experience that adds to your powerful narrative, then by all means say it.
I have heard good things about each of the following job sites from various clients over the last several years, but this year the one I keep hearing about is Indeed.com. Do explore this site and see all the ways that you can make use of it in your search. Other familiar sites include: LinkedIn, Monster.com, and opportunityknocks.org.
Next: The Interview