Job search on purpose
By Vicki Evans
Do you tell yourself you’re ‘job hunting’ while in reality you’re just passively scrolling through job alerts?
Are you making the progress you want? Or do the weeks roll by, with little change?
What might taking a broader approach hold for you? And how can you get clear on exactly what you’re looking for?
Here are three ways to find out.
Broaden Your Horizons
Do you find yourself only perusing jobs with titles very similar to yours, in the sector you’ve worked in forever? How about broadening your horizons a little?
Consider different sectors
Lift your head just a little and start paying attention to sectors, causes or types of organisations other than your own. They might be closely related (like moving from the health sector to work on wellbeing in local government) or wildly different (moving from water quality to violence prevention).
Identify three areas that pique your curiosity, and give yourself permission to follow your nose. In coaching, we call this the dreaming and scheming phase of change. The rules do not apply. You’re simply gathering information and allowing yourself to conjure up ideas of what could be.
How might you do a little digging to find out more about these areas of interest, the opportunities and challenges, and their people, organisations and work? Who do you know that you could ‘interview’ over coffee or by email? Or who do you know that knows someone you could connect with?
Remember, your primary objective here is to learn more, paying particular attention to that which invokes your curiosity.
Consider different roles
Do you find yourself only looking at roles with the same job title as your own?
What if you miss out on working for your dream organisation because you didn’t realise the ‘Fire Wrangling Lizard’ they were looking for required your exact skillset, just under a slightly unusual title?
It pays to look beneath the job title to understand the essence of any given role.
But don’t stop there.
Broaden your horizons in terms of the type of role, too. It’s easy to pigeonhole ourselves, particularly after working in a specific profession for some time (I can only do fundraising, I’m just a project manager, I only know how to do accounts). Think about your key attributes and the skills you’ve accumulated throughout your career so far.
It’s very likely your skills are broader than you realise and transferable to different roles and sectors. Take the time to map yours out. Go through each of your previous roles and tease out five specific skills you used in each. Do the same with the personal attributes you needed to succeed in those roles (if you get stuck, ask a couple of people you trust to share their thoughts).
And go ahead and identify other ‘life’ skills too. It’s very likely that the skills you draw upon in wrangling step-kids, coaching a netball team, or being a board member are applicable to your ability to perform on the job.
Now you have a picture of your unique offering to the job market. Make a list of all the ways in which this can add value to the different sectors, causes, types of organisations and roles you’ve identified. Give yourself permission to blow your own trumpet!
Ideal Work Day
Sometimes we get stuck because we know we need a change, but we don’t know exactly what that change looks like. We don’t know what will bring the most fulfilment.
This is where it pays to start with the end in mind.
Zoom forward to twelve months into the future and allow yourself total creative freedom to design your ideal work day. Run the day through from the moment you wake up to the moment you go to sleep.
Notice who’s around you, what you’re doing, and where you’re located. Write it down.
Look for themes rather than specific details — perhaps it’s being around people, or working in the outdoors, or researching — rather than trying to pin down too many specifics on the organisation or role.
Most of all, pay attention to how you feel during this ideal work day.
As you read back through it, notice –
- What surprised me?
- What does this tell me about what I need to look for in my next role?
- What seems important in the job itself, in the organisation, and its people?
- How do I most want to feel in my ideal job?
One word of caution here. Dreaming big puts us outside our comfort zone, and often results in knocking up against limiting thinking. If you find yourself thinking of all the reasons this ideal day isn’t possible for you, take a read of my other post here which shares some helpful strategies for challenging limiting thinking.
Based on everything you’ve discovered so far, identify your top five – the five organisations you’d be thrilled to work for. I’m going to encourage you to be bold and identify one step you could take toward connecting with one of those organisations, expressing your enthusiasm for their work, and sharing how you could add value.
What step feels easy, fun and achievable?
And in case you need a little inspiration – that’s exactly what I did to ‘create’ my last role. It wasn’t advertised, and didn’t exist until I contacted them. It involved moving cities, and I stayed in the role for several years.
These same opportunities are available to us all if we’re willing to be a little creative.
About Vicki Evans, Certified Coach
Vicki has always been driven by making the world a better place and recently made the jump to full-time coaching at Vicki Evans Coaching (amongst other for-purpose pursuits). She’s a Certified Martha Beck Coach who specialises in supporting purpose-driven folks to drop stress and self-pressure, reconnect to their why, and live + work with greater ease.
Prior to this, she worked in programme and funding management in the for-purpose world across central and local government, the health system, philanthropy, and always closely alongside NGOs + social enterprises.
Some of her favourite things include tramping, coffee, animal whispering, and driving her partner mad with her decluttering obsession.