Feb 19, 2016
This is not a “How To” for job searching. That can be the subject of another post. There are abundant and excellent resources on that topic. The book that is still considered the “bible” of job searching, “What Color Is Your Parachute”, has a chapter called, “You Need to Understand More Fully Who You Are”. This is my focus in this entry. The author, Richard Bolles, makes the point that you can have all the best tools for how to use LinkedIn, how to maximize your network, how to prepare for interviews, etc., but if you are using those tools to obtain a job for which you are ill-suited, it may all be in vain.
Many of us recall completing Career Assessment profiles in High School or perhaps more recently. These profiles can be helpful in providing some general indication of jobs that may or may not be good fits, but they will not tell you exactly where your path lies. The first question to ask before starting your search is “WHAT KIND OF JOB WILL I LOOK FOR?” You have to get this question right or you will be setting yourself up for unproductive and unsatisfying results. For some, the answer is easy. These people are 100% certain of what they want and they can move right on to the next step. For many, however, this question requires some careful examination, research, input from others and a definite decision on how to proceed rather than just falling into the next job. Some job searchers tell me that they have an ideal job in their minds, but that they are willing to do “anything”. I usually tell them that they should have a “Plan A” and that it is OK to have a “Plan B”, that is a second choice type job to look for simultaneously, but that it is not good to have a “Plan C”, “Plan D”, etc. because then your efforts will be too scattered and Hiring Managers will sense that you are unfocused. There can be rare exceptions where you just need some job, any job, to pay bills, but this is not a good strategy for the longer term.
When Joseph Campbell started writing and talking about Following Your Bliss, he struck a chord with many who feel that the work they do drains them, dulls them, dries them up and at a certain point becomes intolerable even though it may seem to others that the job is not difficult. Following Your Bliss is not all about Careers. It is also about things like volunteer work, family, pursuit of learning, community and political involvement. When it comes to Careers, we pretty much know that not every job we will have is likely to be “Blissful”. To further complicate matters, we can find ourselves in a field for which we are very well-suited, even passionate, but the organizational culture or clashes with co-workers can make it feel far from “Blissful”. Still Campbell’s exhortation is a grand reminder for all of us not to settle. He’s there telling us, “Don’t aim low!” “Don’t stay on a path that will disconnect you from your soul – from that which refreshes you!” or said best in his own words: “Follow your bliss and the universe will open doors for you where there were only walls.”