I’ve had a knack over the last few years for helping many of my friends make the jump to a job. Many times, it’s been to a role and company completely new to them. Sometimes, it has even been the jump from customer to vendor, which deserves a post of its own. After helping many others with this, I even took my own advice this summer and switch roles within my own company from Systems Engineer to Systems Architect and Technical Marketing Engineer. Here’s a couple of things to think about if you’re starting to get that new job itch, or even if you’re happy in your current role and just looking for some food for thought.
What’s Your Status?
What’s your status right now? Are you starting to get bored and twitchy? Are you content but want to start exploring options? Do you not like how things are going at your current company? And finally, do you just really need an exit Matrix style? Your current state will have a huge impact on what your next steps are. If you don’t need an immediate exit, you’re in a great spot. If you feel the burnout coming, try to take some time off or a vacation to recharge so you don’t get to the point where you are frantically dialing Tank from The Matrix. Most of the people I’ve coached through the process have been in this position.
What’s the Next Chapter?
Now, for the million dollar question. What do you want to do next? Maybe you have a clear goal in mind, or maybe you aren’t quite sure. If you already know what you want to do, great, we’ll get to that in a second. If not, it is time to figure some things out and do some soul searching. Remember, you’re in the driver’s seat. What are things you really enjoy doing, and can you fit that into a job description? Start surfing job sites using key words you think you’d like to get the feel for some job descriptions. Hit up your local technology user groups, and just ask people what they do. You never know when you’ll find out something intriguing. Personally, I’d always rather listen to someone else than myself, so I have no qualms about asking the question “So what do you do?”. It’s also a great conversation starter. This stage can take a lot of time. When I was leaving a former employer, I figured out my next job by doing just this, having conversations with others.
The Goal is in Sight
Whether you’ve always known what was next for you, or you just figured it out, it is time to put your goal into action. Is the new role you’re seeking a lot different than what you’ve been doing, or is it more of a natural progression of your current role? Either way, some of the best career advice I’ve gotten is start doing the job you want. This may take up a great deal of your non-work time, so make sure you’re keeping friends and family in the loop. For example, if you know the job you’d like to do will require a lot of writing, make sure you’ll be able to show prospective management samples, whether it be through a portfolio or through something as simple as a bog. Just because you don’t necessarily meet all of the requirements of a particular position doesn’t mean you’re out, as long as you can demonstrate your aptitude at learning new skills, especially once that will be useful for your job of choice.
Putting the Wheels in Motion
Does your current employer offer the role you are looking to? If so, it is time to look at internal job boards, and talk to people in that role. Just because you want to do something new, doesn’t mean you necessarily need to leave the company you’re currently at. Many employers offer a number of resources to move inside of the organization. If not, it is time to look at the outside. How do you pick a company once you have the role in mind? Good question. For me, it has always been about picking a company that does something I’m interested in, or has a product I’m a fan of. This is also important to many others I’ve talked about. For example, if I decided to go be a Technical Marketing Engineer for a peanut butter company, I would have the job I wanted, but would probably be pretty unhappy with it (since I’m allergic to peanuts). You may want to target a specific company, or you may be interested in a few of them. The best thing to do is start talking to people you already know at the companies you’re targeting, and applying for positions. Also, keep an open mind even if something doesn’t seem to be a complete match, you never know what the future holds, or if that imperfect match will lead to the perfect one.
Good Things Come to Those Who Wait
Rome wasn’t build in a day, and often your job search won’t be over in one either. Sometimes, these things can take time, even after you’ve found a position and started interviewing. Don’t get discouraged, and keep doing things to further your skills in the mean time. You also may start interviewing for the job you thought you want, and discover it wasn’t quite what you thought it would be through you interviews. That’s okay too, you can always revise your search!
Making the Move
Finally, you’ve found your dream job (for now) at your dream company, and you’re ready to make the jump. There’s lots of fear and uncertainty that can creep in here, do not let it get the best of you. You’re ready to make the move! We hear a lot of “the grass isn’t always greener on the other side”, but every opportunity is always what you make of it. Perhaps this new job came with surprises, or perhaps it is exactly what you were looking for. Whatever the case, keeping a great attitude will go a long way. The challenges you face in your new role will only help you learn and grow, which is probably why you were looking to make a move in the first place! Make sure you give yourself ample time to settle into things before you make any harsh judgements about the choice you’ve made. Even if you aren’t completely thrilled, look at it as a learning experience before you start the process all over again.
I hope this advice has been useful to someone, I know it worked for me, as well as a number of others. Happy hunting if that’s what your after, and happy thinking about the next big thing!