So you want out

In talking with a dear friend of mine recently, I had an epiphany. We all have bad days. We all have days where we want to throw in the towel and leave our careers behind. Yet, most of us stick with our current position because a fear of the unknown is greater than our dislike for our current situation. It doesn’t have to be that way. If you don’t know what’s wrong, you can’t make sure things are right in the next place. If you don’t know what you love, you aren’t guaranteed to get it.

If you are thinking about a change, or even thinking about thinking about a change, there are a few steps you can take to make sure you aren’t winding up in the same cycle.

  1. Make a list on a bad day. If possible, write it on the day where you’re thisclose to walking out the door and never coming back. Write everything that’s bugging you from the lack or resources to the fluorescent lights. Nothing is too big or too small. Obviously, you should not do this at the office. Write it over lunch, write it on a walk, write it when you get home. Now comes the hardest part. Don’t make a judgement on the list. Tuck it away in a place you won’t forget.
  2. You will have a great day. It’s on the great day that you should make a list of everything that makes your day great. Maybe your coworkers took you to lunch. Maybe you finally got batteries for your mouse. Again, like before, nothing is too big or too small. At this point, you shouldn’t look at the first list. Just make sure you keep the lists together.
  3. On an alright day, after work, take out both lists. Be objective. Are the fluorescent lights really the issue? Is lunch at the nearest quick serve restaurant really that great?

Now, take stock. At this point you should have a pretty good idea of what your ideal job or career entails and leaves out. How does your current position match up? Are there enough good things? Is it worth it to stay?

It is okay if the answer is no. At least now you have the qualifications you are looking for in another position written down, which should make your search much easier.

Resource: What Color is Your Parachute?

This book by Richard Bolles is a must read for recent graduates and anyone looking for a job or career change. It’s a practical, easy read with tips, tricks and encouragement.

In case you needed a bit more convincing that this book will motivate you to tweak your job search techniques for greater success, here are five takeaways about interviewing.

  1. How do I know if the interview went well? You talked about 50 percent of the time and the interviewer talked about 50 percent of the time. (pages 35 and 97) An interview is a conversation.
  2. Bring proof to your interview. (pages 51 and 99) For example, if you’re interviewing for a reporting job, bring your clips, even if you included them in your original application packet.
  3. At the end of the interview, ask the interviewer, “Can you offer me this job?” (page 113) Obviously you should only do this if you feel the interview went well, you are comfortable and you are prepared to hear no. Another answer you should be prepared for is, “We need to think about it,” or “We need to finish interviewing other candidates.”
  4. Respond to a rejection. If you get a firm no after you’ve asked if the interviewer can offer you the job, follow-up with, “Thank you very much for your time today. Do you know any other employers who might be interested in someone with my skills?” (page 59) Again, only ask this if you are comfortable hearing no and being shuffled out of the office quickly. You can also use this tactic when receiving a phone call, email or letter indicating the company went with another candidate.
  5. Pursue more than one employer until after you start your new job. (page 134) As in, have gone through the first full day.

These are just five of the thousands of pieces of advice throughout the book. At minimum, check this book out from the library. Mr. Bolles updates this book every year and runs a website, Job Hunters Bible. This book is an excellent resource for anyone looking for work, considering a career change or wondering what they want to be when they grow up.