You’re on the lookout for a new role. After clicking into a job board and entering a few applicable search terms, you quickly become overwhelmed by the number and types of roles available. What’s a job seeker to do?
Take a step back, and spend a moment focusing on what’s truly important to you in your next job. As you know, there are MANY factors that go into selecting specific roles to pursue. Here are a few tips on how to turn that free-for-all approach into a targeted and more effective search by focusing on key aspects of the job and what you’ve enjoyed – or not – throughout your career.
Look Back to Plan for the Future
One way to narrow down types of roles to pursue is to critically examine your past professional experience. Take this opportunity as you’re beginning a search (and pursuing a fresh start!) to examine what you’ve liked most and least about your jobs.
Parts of your position you wish you could change
Aspects of your role you’d like to spend more time on
Skills you’d like a chance to enhance
By identifying key aspects important to you, you’ll be able to target positions best suited to your experience, skills, and abilities. Ultimately this will enable you to outline pertinent detail in your cover letter and resume to succinctly demonstrate your suitability for an open role.
Once you’ve examined your own history and preferences, start to think through the following factors and what is important to you in your next role.
Are you someone who is most productive early in the morning before many are awake, or in the evening once everyone else has gone to bed? Do you have young children or an aging parent to care for throughout the day? Then a typical 9-to-5 job may not be the best option for you.
Consider looking for roles that offer flexible hours and enable you to work when you’re most productive. A word of caution, though! If it seems “too good to be true,” it probably is! Be sure to do your research. If a true “flex” role is something you’re dedicated to finding, a subscription to a job board that vets roles and works with reputable companies can be a small investment to find legitimate roles offering flexibility and professional growth.
Additionally, consider working with your current employer to flex your hours, begin the option to work-from-home occasionally, or implement job sharing with someone on your team to ensure the work still gets done.
Option for Remote Work / Ability to Choose Where You Live
The COVID-19 pandemic has rapidly ushered many fields that previously existed primarily in-office into offering remote work options. Whether or not the capability for work-from-home sticks around as a permanent avenue for workers is yet to be seen. However, if you are someone who has strong feelings about staying in a certain city or region, or are looking to move closer to family, there is opportunity to find a job you love and live where you want.
To demonstrate your ability to thrive in a role fully removed from a traditional corporate office, be sure to note if you’ve successfully worked remotely with limited supervision. Demonstrate how you maintained – or better yet, increased – productivity. Call out specific examples highlighting how you resolved challenges that arose (and there were many as companies rapidly switched to remote work due to the pandemic!) Illustrate how you maintained connectivity with clients or colleagues, or even established new business or relationships.
Opportunity for Professional Growth
Another key factor that may impact your search is the opportunity to advance in your chosen field. If a chance at a promotion is important to you, and you’d prefer to move up without switching companies, you’ll want to take a look at the way the company is structured and find out more about the following:
In what ways is the company known for promoting from within?
When looking at the departmental structure for your desired team, what opportunities for upward mobility are there?
What kinds of opportunities are there to transfer within the company to advance and broaden your experience?
Potential for Ongoing Training & Career Development / $ Towards Education
Pursuing professional growth through training and development can also come into play. Are you someone who seeks out opportunities to learn the latest strategies in your field? Do you want to pursue education or training? It’s worth doing some research to see if a potential employer is open to investing in their staff. Do they consistently offer on-site training or encourage staff to attend industry events? Do they provide opportunities for online courses? Or perhaps they even offer incentives or partial reimbursement for higher education courses applicable to key roles.
Bonus Tip: When researching if employers provide reimbursement for higher education courses / degrees, make sure to note if they require you to stay on for a certain period of time once the course or degree is finished.
Professional fulfillment is important, but at the end of the day, everyone has bills to pay. Take a look at the pay ranges available for roles you’re pursuing and remember that salary is just one component of your compensation. Consider the various benefits you may be provided via health, life, and accident insurance, as well as bonus potential (for select roles) and perhaps even stock or equity options (though these typically apply to executive-level roles at large and/or publicly traded companies).
Bonus Tip: Check out a company’s competitors to see how will they pay in comparison and note this information for when it comes time to negotiate your own compensation!
Stability of Role
If the past year has demonstrated nothing else, it’s clear that job stability is never a certainty. However, if you’re someone who thrives on stability, take into consideration the industry you’re in, as well as the company’s history. Consider avoiding industries with a limited lifespan or positions that may not exist within a few years.
Access to Gym/Fitness at Work
Do you do your best thinking while running on a treadmill? Then access to an on-site gym or fitness equipment (though perhaps not currently accessible due to COVID) may also determine where you want to target your job search. If you have an active lifestyle, consider roles at activewear companies / sporting goods retailers, or companies focused on wellness - they may provide staff flexibility and opportunities to pursue physical activity. Alternatively, look to companies located near greenspaces where you can enjoy time outside during breaks or lunch.
All About the Company
Some job seekers may prefer to target a specific company due to its reputation, the clients/customers it serves, or perhaps even the values it holds. If this is your strategy, be sure to remain aware of the latest news surrounding the company, identify specific ways your background or skillset will offer value, and leverage your professional network to build connections that could open doors when the right opportunity becomes available.
By critically looking at key drivers impacting your future goals, you can focus on specific companies or sectors to target, enabling you to conduct a more strategic, streamlined, and successful job search. You may quickly realize that in order to land your ideal role, you’ll need to pursue roles at large, publicly traded companies. Or perhaps your in-depth look at the factors most important to you have persuaded you to consider a role at a small, family-owned business. Either way, knowing precisely what you’re hoping to find provides you with the necessary tools to conduct a focused search that sets you up to identify and pursue roles well-suited to your future goals.
Once you’ve determined your next steps, be sure to research, work on acquiring key skills, and develop your professional network. That way when you find the role you REALLY want, you’re prepared to demonstrate how your experience and background position you to drive results (and maybe even have someone to make that key introduction)!
Final Bonus Tip: Don’t forget to start cataloguing your amazing Pattern of Excellence for use in those upcoming interviews; do that work now so you are that much more prepared to pursue the roles that align with your impactful experience and can speak beautifully to your record of achievements when needed!