Top 5 blind spots that could slow down your job search (which may be a good thing!)
People have been leaving their jobs in record numbers, and companies are desperate to fill important roles to maintain business continuity. Money is a primary driver that causes people to walk out the door, but many are seeking work/life balance or a higher purpose through a job change. Many candidates are ill-prepared to navigate their options to find the right role for their unique strengths and preferences, running the risk of ending up right back where they started (figuratively speaking). Having gone through several job changes and at least two significant career shifts in my professional life, I have observed several blind spots that can slow down a job search. However, that can be a good thing if you use that time to get closer to the heart of what you’re meant to do with your life. Here’s my list of the top 5 blind spots that could slow down your job search:
Many people wake up well into their adult working lives and realize they have not been satisfied in their work for a long time. They change roles seeking money or change companies based on the benefits offered, which rarely gets to the heart of their discontent. In some cases, your career path could have diverged in college when a field of study was selected. Was the major selected because others saw it as a good fit? Or was it based on your personal experiences with that area of study where high achievement combined with high energy and satisfaction were present? Depending on the answer to those questions, you may find it valuable to go deeper to understand what makes you tick in order to change your career trajectory.
For me, I majored in English in college because I loved it, but I had a second major in Business hoping that someone would hire me because I did not want to teach. I took a sales role in an industry I knew nothing about, and I enjoyed a great degree of success early in my career. This leads right into the next point.
People often keep going down a career path when they achieve at a high level over a long period of time. But if that work does generate satisfaction or the release of energy and creativity, then it may not be the work you are meant to do. Looking back at your personal and professional life, you will discover that there were times where you were achieving at a high level AND were full of energy and satisfaction – we call those Peak Experiences – that can be mined for deep self-understanding. They will reveal a lot about the roles you like to be in, the skills that are most satisfying for you to use, and the needs and values underlying your choices.
I found myself in a National Account Manager role at my company’s largest account hitting record sales numbers. But I was personally miserable. As I started to look at my values and needs, all the accolades and achievements were not enough to overshadow my discontent. I was in roles that I did not enjoy, and I had no balance between work and family due to frequent travel. It was not until I made a conscious choice to leave sales and take on a marketing role that I began to feel fulfilled and energized again in my work.
There were 11.4 million job openings in the US in April of 2022, down from a revised record high of 11.855 million in March, indicating that the market for talent is more competitive than ever. At the same time, 4.4 million Americans quit their jobs in April 2022. It can be very tempting to jump at the first opening you see with a big salary number for a sexy employer in a growing industry with a title above the one you last held. A more-prudent approach would be to look through the job responsibilities and requirements to see how well they line up with what energizes you. Be ready to assign weights to the factors that have the greatest impact on your satisfaction or dissatisfaction and lower weights to those aspects that are not as critical to you. Jobs are not normally comprised of only things we love to do; even in a loving marriage and family life, someone must scrub the toilets!
I have held positions with a wide range of marketing responsibilities in the past, but I get different levels of satisfaction from work associated with product management, client communications, demand generation, content development, brand management, and events planning. And there is no way to avoid project management, process improvement, coaching and developing team members, and budget setting and oversight in a modern marketing leadership role. Understanding which of those roles have the greatest potential to utilize my strengths and create Peak Experiences helps me evaluate job postings effectively so I invest the right amount of time and energy pursuing the preferred roles I seek. This leads nicely into the next potential blind spot.
Some of us are better than others at thinking on our feet. Regardless of how comfortable you are answering questions from a total stranger, preparing for an effective interview is always a good idea. By isolating what you love to do and your unique strengths in the examples you site, you increase your ability to assess your fit into what the hiring team is seeking in the ideal candidate. And ruling out a bad fit is just as important as standing out where there is a good fit. Ultimately, the hiring manager and the company will decide what the greatest needs are, and like in a sales process, you’d rather get to “no” quickly than to languish over several weeks only to be disappointed later.
When a new CMO was hiring to help build a modern marketing department, I prepared interview responses that explicitly addressed my approach to hiring new team members, establishing a winning culture, and creating development opportunities that improved results and individual satisfaction. I talked about other areas of accomplishment, but the answers were more matter of fact and understated when they were not sources of satisfaction for me.
Companies seeking the best talent provide all sorts of employee benefits that seem cool and engaging, like free snacks, pool tables, and on-site happy hours (WeCrashed, anyone?). However, these offerings may or may not line up with the way you prefer to get your best work done. In addition to your unique strengths, your work environment can help or hinder your experience greatly. Your Peak Experiences often took place with common environmental elements, while the times when you were achieving without as much satisfaction could confirm what is most important to you. Getting skilled at probing with the hiring team for important dimensions like management style, degrees of freedom in decision making, amount and nature of collaborative work with others, and the variety of work assignments can help reveal many important factors that do not always show up in the job posting or careers section of a company’s website.
As I interviewed candidates over my career, I tried to hire people with complementary skills that would mesh well with the team already in place. However, whenever I asked specific questions about work style preferences, candidates often seemed surprised at the question or were unprepared to provide clear, meaningful answers. It is important to have a solid grasp of your work style preferences and a strategy to uncover whether they will be present or not in a new role you are considering.
Bringing it all together
If you are one of the millions of people considering a job change or a shift toward a different type of work altogether, being mindful of these blind spots can help you land in a place where you are much more likely to thrive and be more fulfilled in your work. If you have an interest in diving more deeply into your unique strengths, tru™ Strength Realization offers a step-by-step process toward self-discovery that could change your career trajectory and unlock new satisfaction and energy in your life.