Whenever things got bad at work, I used to look through the online gazette for jobs hoping I could find one that was better than the one I was in. But, when I did find something that looked good, I’d either get scared and not apply for it, in case it was the same or worse than the one I was in, or I’d decide that it was all too hard and not apply for it, as I wasn’t prepared. So, if you’re sitting at your desk, contemplating looking for jobs, here are 8 things that I highly recommend that you do before you even think about doing that. If you do these things first, you’ll be prepared to apply for that exciting sounding job, and will be less scared of the unknown, as you’ll know exactly what you want.
1. Update your CV or Resume
I can’t stress enough how important it is to do this regularly. There’s nothing that will raise your anxiety levels higher than finishing a job application the night before it’s due, and realising that you haven’t updated your CV for 5 years. Trust me, I’ve been there!
So take some time to update your CV at your leisure, so you can do it right. Find the duty statements for all the jobs you’ve done, and take plenty of time to cast your mind back into the past and remember all you’ve achieved since you last updated your CV.
Get a friend or colleague to check it over for errors, and if it really needs an overhaul and you’re stuck, get some professional help.
2. Reflect upon your past and present careers
While you’re updating your CV, this is a great time to reflect on your past and present jobs. Give some thought to what you liked about them, and what you didn’t.
Think about what satisfied you most about each job, and see if there’s a common thread. This will be something you’ll want to look for when considering whether to apply for jobs in the future.
Similarly, consider the things that dissatisfied you most about each job. You’ll want to avoid these in the future, if possible.
When I did this, I discovered that I was happiest in the jobs where I was helping people, an I was most unhappy when I was being closely managed.
3. Make an inventory of your skills
This is also a great time to make an inventory of your skills. Don’t just stick to your work related skills, but also consider the other skills you have.
You’ll always be happier doing a job where you’re using your best skills. also, this list will be useful if you want to change careers, as it will point you to other career options. It’s also a good chance to decide whether you might like to update your current skills, or gain some new ones, in order to expand your career options.
I was able to get my employer to pay for me to do 2 short courses, one on technical writing (as this was something I thought I might be good at), and one on starting a business.
4. List your interests
If you are thinking of changing careers, it will also be very useful for you to list as many things as you possibly can that interest you. These will not only give you ideas for different types of careers, but may also jog your memory to start that hobby you’ve been putting off for ages.
5. Consider your personal qualities and values
These are what make you unique, and will show what sort of work environment you’re best suited to, and the people you’d be most happy working with.
You won’t want a slow paced job if you thrive on the adrenaline of a tight deadline, and you won’t want an open and noisy work environment if you work best by yourself when it’s quiet.
You may not be as happy in a job if the people you work with have different values to you. I was in a job like that once, and while I loved the work, I never felt like I quite fitted in with my colleagues when we socialised after work, which was strongly encouraged.
6. Consider your goals
I’m someone who likes to run away and hide when people ask me to write down goals. But what I’m suggesting you do isn’t really as daunting as it sounds. Just give some thought to questions about the quality of your life, like:
- How much do you need to earn to keep up with your bills?
- Do you want to spend more time with your family?
- How is your work life balance looking?
- Do you want to take more holidays, or a different type of holiday?
- Do you have the time to do the things you most enjoy? etc.
This will get you thinking about what you want your future to look like, and how your job will fit into that. If you’re not comfortable with long term goals, just look ahead a single year.
7. Brainstorm career options
If you are thinking seriously of a career change, use what you’ve listed in the points above, and start brainstorming different career options. This may take some time, and a good deal of research.
Find out as much as you possibly can about the careers you are interested in. If you can, talk to people who work in those careers, and see what a day in that career would look like for you.
When I was doing this, I didn’t have the luxury of time, as I only had 3 months to decide what to do. I knew I wanted to start a business, but didn’t know what. So, I jumped into a business which wasn’t quite right for me. Having said that, I don’t regret a single day in that business, as it lead me to do what I’m doing now.
8. Build your belief in yourself
If you are seriously thinking of changing jobs, there will come a time when you have to apply for one. Truly believing that you are the best person for the job is vital if you are going to win that job. After all, if you don’t believe that you’re the best one for the job, the panel won’t either.
I read a blog post the other day which said that if there were two people with identical skills, where one believed in themselves and the other didn’t, the one who did would be 90% ahead of the other one. Click here to read the whole post.
Let me tel you about 2 very different jobs I applied for. I read the selection criteria for the first job, and decided that I really wanted it. Before I started writing the application, I wrote down all the reasons why I deserved that job, and why i would be very good at it.
By the time I walked into the interview, I felt that that job had my name on it and, if I didn’t get that job, it would be entirely my fault, as I wouldn’t have done a good enough job of convincing the panel that I was the best one for the job. Needless to say , I got the job.
In the case of the second job, when I read the selection criteria, I knew I could do it, and wrote an application that was good enough to get me an interview. However, when I walked into the interview, I just couldn’t seem to muster up that feeling that the job was mine. A little voice in my head kept whispering “you might not get it”. That little voice was a self-fulfilling prophecy, as I didn’t get the job. I didn’t believe enough in myself, and so the panel didn’t either.
I’m not saying that self-belief will get you the job every time, but it will certainly put you a step ahead of those you’re competing against, who may not have that self-belief.
I am a career transition coach, and I passionately believe that no one should be stuck in an unfulfilling job simply because they don’t know what their options are, or are too scared to follow their dreams. I’m not an expert at writing CV’s but if you would like help in any of the other areas I’ve written about here, please contact me.