Finding & Keeping Work Part 2

Defining a Better Job

Let us say that you have given your current, or last, job everything you could and things still didn’t work out. It’s time to find a job that is a little closer to the ideal scene for you.

If you have a clearly defined skill set, like being a database administrator or used car salesman, you are a readily interchangeable commodity. Changing jobs can be as simple as reading the classifieds and picking out the job with the best benefits. You probably don’t need to read further. The rest of us aren’t as fortunate, changing jobs for the better is not a trivial activity.

For about ten years, I prided myself on the ease with which I got new jobs. It never occurred to me it was only because I was a hardware design engineer, a commodity which prospective employers could evaluate down to the dollar. If you are a commodity, you are a known quantity and employers can easily decide if they need you or not.

Let’s assume that you are in a hard to define category or possibly a commodity that is no longer in demand, like a C programmer or a middle manager with no internet expertise. You are going to need a little reorientation before you send out your resume. You might start by figuring out what you want.

Perhaps this new job should provide more satisfaction, better working conditions, or better pay. What you end up with is totally up to you. Like it or not, it will be your decisions that determine where and for whom you work. Be prepared to make some tough and possibly unpopular decisions.

To get a job you can excel at may require you to move to another state or country. It may not be possible to satisfy all of the conflicting requirements that are facing you and get a better job.

If staying in the same neighborhood, keeping the kids in the same school, and living near the relatives is what is important to you, you have already decided to limit your choices. I can only suggest that you fully consider your options before sentencing yourself to a less than satisfactory job.

Give yourself a chance to break out of the box. Write down a description of your ideal job as though you are already there:
What is your day like?
What do you produce?
What kind of people do you work with?
What kind of responsibilities do you have?
What kind of advice and supervision do you get?
How often do you get acknowledged for your efforts?
What challenges do you face?
What chances for advancement exist?
How do you feel at the end of the day?

Now, re-read what you have written and adjust the description to align with your current skills.

Chances are, if you look at what you have written, you will already have an idea where such a job might exist. Find someone who is familiar with that company or industry and discuss your ideal job. You are not looking for an interview yet, only information. As you gather information, you may need to change your ideal job description again to match the realities of existing workplaces.

At some point, you may realize that you really do not want to go on being a cubical mole, no matter what your title is and how much they pay you. This is a big moment. Don’t brush it off. Take a break, get a coffee and spend a little time thinking of the possibilities. Pick up a new piece of paper and write out another job description. This time include how this new job affects your life outside of work.

You may want to list the things you are going to have to learn, changes that will be required in your life style, in your social life, in your physical condition. If you have gotten this far, you need to discuss this change with those who will also be affected. It could be easier than you think.

On the other hand, it may heave into view some awful things that you have not been confronting. Either way, you will start to see some motion in your life where none has existed before.

In the next post, I will share some ideas for making your interviews interesting and successful. You will be living in exciting times…

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