When it comes to career search, be it for the first job or a job change, all of us would dread the thought of it. Undeniably, career search is a long and tedious process. Think resumes, cover letters, networking, assessment centres, interviews, etc. Not forgetting the disheartening experience of receiving multiple rejections. An average job seeker faces 24 rejections before they get the “yes”. It is only understandable that one finds searching for the right job daunting and frustrating.
Here is the thing! There is no such thing as a one-off search for the right job. According to the 2019 U.S. Bureau of Labour Statistics (BLS), a person holds an average of 12 jobs in their lifetime. This average figure will only increase as millions of jobs around the world are rapidly replaced by technology. It is expected that robot will replace 20 million jobs by 2030. Therefore, career search must be seen as a life-long skill that will help you stay relevant.
The good news is that you can almost certainly make career search easier and enjoyable for yourself. It only requires a shift in perspective, from career search to career design.
Here are 3 steps to acquire this shift.
1. Know What You Want!
Good designers take time to know what their clients want before they get down to designing. Likewise, you need to take time to know what you want before you start job searching. This is a very important step because it gives you the advantages of doing what you love, what you are good at, what the market needs and what pays you.
Albert Liebermann and Hector Garcia, author of Ikigai: The Japanese Secret to a Long and Happy Life summarises these as Ikigai, a Japanese term for “the reason for being”. The closer we are to our Ikigai, the happier we live. When you know what you want, you are one step closer to living your Ikigai.
The conventional way of scrolling through multiple job boards only fulfils half of the Ikigai equation if you do not take time to know what you want out of your career. So, unless you are truly desperate in fitting into the market and getting paid immediately, take some time to get to know what you love and are good at. A great way to start knowing yourself is list down the knowledge and tasks that you love, tolerate, and hate; and circle what you are good at.
2. Give Yourself More Career Options
Once you have a better idea of what you want out of your career, it is a good time to explore your career options. We all have that ONE idea about the career we want, be it a successful entrepreneur, a lawyer, accountant, teacher or artist. This is a good start. However, the subsequent problem is we often get stuck with this ONE idea that we forget there are other equally good and unexplored choices.
If you are a good designer in your career, you never allow yourself to get stuck with just ONE noble idea. The best way forward is to give yourself more options. Be creative and work out a few possible career choices aligned to your Ikigai. With that, you can experiment with each option with fewer strings attached because you have more choices that are equally good. You will not be afraid that you will lose out.
Start giving yourself more career options by considering the following questions:
- What is your current career option?
- If your current career option completely vanishes, what will you be doing instead?
- What is your career option if money is no longer a problem?
3. Dare to Ask for Direction
You know what you want better than anyone. You have more options now and you just need to get down to the real work of job searching. One part that most of us know is important but never get ourselves to do, is networking. It is hard for sure to be knocking on doors and asking for jobs. This is the heart of the problem. Networking is not about asking for jobs, it is about asking for direction.
Imagine you are a tourist being lost in an unfamiliar place, neither Google Maps nor your friend can help. You would gather some courage to ask for direction to the destination you want. Similarly, with job searching you would want to gather some courage to ask people with the experience, expertise, and exposure how you can realise your career options. Start not by asking “Do you have a job opening?”, but instead ask “I am determined to be an aeronautical engineer like yourself, I wonder if you have some time to share with me on how you become successful?”
Ultimately, a perspective shifting
If the universe is on your side, you will get a passionate kind soul who furthers the conversation by connecting you to the right people. If not, remember that people want to be helpful most of the time, so at the least you will still get a conversation and learn from the person’s invaluable experience and insight on how to get to the destination.
Ultimately, any career search process becomes much easier and enjoyable when we shift our perspective from searching for the one and right job to designing a few unique career options that fulfil us. Recognising that career search is a lonely journey, so it is vital for you to make connections along the way by asking for direction. After all, we live in a VUCA (Volatile, Uncertain, Chaotic, Ambiguous) world where the only constant is change. We need to be agile, collaborative, and equip ourselves with life-long career design skills that will help us to continue to survive and thrive.
About the Author
Yee Eng Lee is the founder of Y Coaching Academy where she provides Career and Leadership Coaching to emerging leaders who are eager for growth. She is a change conversationalist with a mission to help leaders to be their best self by holding conversations that bring clarity, confidence, courage, and competencies. Connect with Yee Eng on LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/yeeenglee/