Do you feel stuck in an unhappy job or are looking to rejoin the workforce after some time off but feel unsure of what career is the right one? Read on for this updated on my classic and proven three step plan on finding your way. I'll also link to a FREE video on "How to Get Unstuck".
I can tell you from personal experience that it is easy to become complacent, whether in a career that you are decent or good at, that pays the bills or that just is okay. I also understand, no matter if you are working or not, that at the end of the day you may feel a little empty, and that as the years go by you begin to feel a lot lost - lost from those idealistic days of school when the world was your oyster. Well now is the time to break out of the comfort zone and find that dream career of yours.
Now, what if you don't know what career is the right one for you? It is very common to feel so lost that you don't know what your next move should be. Well here is a tried, tested and true way (see classycareergirl.com and Career Leader Assessment) to figure all that out using me and my story as an example.
As a child what were you interested in? Your core interests (not hobbies!) don't usually change too much as you get older. Which means that this is the key to find a fulfilling career. Maybe you used to love taking things apart to see how they worked, or anything to do with numbers. Maybe you were constantly making up stories or taking care of animals.
For me, I always loved helping and coaching people. In class I was always the one who was paired with a struggling child so that I could help them improve their grades. I also loved helping people figure out their lives and was the go-to person for family and friends to help them find their way.
When I was reflecting on my interests this, I looked at where I found the most joy and fulfillment in my job as a Recruiter and I noticed that the times I spent providing advice on careers (job search, resumes, interviews) was when I was happiest. And it makes sense - it is when I'm really helping them beyond just the transaction of if they fit this job and it is giving them the knowledge and tools to figure out their careers.
What motivates you? Your motivations can fluctuate as you mature and as your life changes. So think about what is most important right now. Is it job recognition, location, money, a prestigious job title/company? These change as your life changes - a family usually is one of the biggest impacts on motivations!
I really only have one motivation right now - job flexibility. I have two kids (Nolan, 6 and Abby, 4) who are in school and a husband with a career that requires him to commute. So the flexibility to work from home is paramount to me. The great thing is I can help people during times that make the most sense for them - like in the evenings, while still being there to get my kids off of the school bus.
What are you good at? You can ask your friends, your boss, colleagues. You can also look at any previous performance reviews, or see if there are any patterns in what people are complimenting you on. Skills are things that don't change (most soft skills) and things that you can build upon and learn (hard skills).
Looking at the skills I've developed throughout my life and career I have seen some patterns. As a recruiter, I don't even know how many resumes and LinkedIn profiles I've screened, but can estimate that it is in the tens of thousands. I interview people every day - over the phone and in person asking all the different types of interview questions there are. I am a good listener who is able to quickly get to know a person since I am highly empathetic. And not to toot my own horn, I am able to translate a person in my writing so that they come alive on paper.
So combining my interests, motivations and skills led me to take this leap - freelance career coaching. I couldn't be happier with this decision.
What led me to finally breaking out of my own complacent bubble was that this past spring my grandfather passed away and while I was mourning him I realized one of the things he taught me was to never to late to embark on a new adventure. He did all these amazing things in his life - including white water rafting and paragliding in his 80's - to life it to the fullest. I wasn't. I was going with the flow in a job that suited my skills and my motivation of flexible work but I wasn't paying any attention to my interests. But using the above three step plan, it was obvious to me what I needed to do. And yes it was scary to put myself out there with the risk of failure but I knew I would regret it if I didn't.
So whether you are new into your career, a stay at home mom, or someone with only 5-10 years of working years left, it is never too late to find your way to a fulfilling job.
To watch a free training (less than 15 minutes!) of me walking you through "How to Get Unstuck"
In my experience, there are 2 types of people. Those who live life on purpose and those who let life happen to them.
I’m someone who lives my life with intention – always thinking about my growth and happiness. BUT for years I let my career happen to me. I thought I had control over everything in my life but my job and career.
It meant that I wasted 15 years in a career that just wasn’t meant for me. I was successful in it but it was me frantically hustling and white knuckling that success. Totally distracted busyness. It was a way for me to feel better about it.
It didn’t work though because I spent A LOT of time criticizing myself – blaming, angry, judgmental about all the things.
I tried to do all the things. Just thinking that if I had a perfect day or completed a task perfectly than it would be all okay.
Spoiler alert, it wasn’t.
I ended up spending a lot of time ruminating and worrying, including many sleepless nights stressing out, annoyed with myself and feeling completely lost.
I had to do something radically different.
I had to slow down and take back control.
1. Purposeful Introspection
The first thing I did was really got familiar with who I was – the ins and outs of my personality, my motivations and my feelings.
It was eye-opening. Incredible. Uncomfortable.
It was purposeful. Which meant that my experience of myself and the world around me shifted and changed.
2. Plan Your Execution
It allowed me to move to the next step which was thinking about how I was going to actually execute on my dreams.
I carved out time in my fulltime job and life as a mom of 2. I focused on small, focused blocks of time to work on my career and my vision for it.
I lived the motto “less is more”.
3. Plan Your Rest
I also learned that proper rest was key. I wanted to stop feeling that frantic energy followed by complete exhaustion. So I planned my rest.
It was intentional. It was pleasurable.
It reset my nervous system and healed my body after years spent in the hustle energy.
4. Love Yourself
The last thing I did was to build my confidence. Years of letting my career just happen to me took its toll on my confidence. I didn’t feel like I was worthy of a career I loved, that it could happen to me, I kept thinking that I should be grateful and not want more. I had to realize that I deserved this and that there was nothing wrong with me for wanting it. So I began a self-gratitude practice.
Every day asking myself: what am I thankful for myself today?
So I ask you today – how do you want to spend your career?
If you want to take back control of it, then here’s what you need:
You get it in the Career You Love Academy.
A 12 week course that you get instant access to with all the workbooks, video lessons, guides that you need.
Plus for the month of January I’m live training and coaching on the 3 steps to Career Clarity so that by February you will know exactly what your next step needs to look like (whether it’s a career change, a new boss, or a promotion).
There’s weekly coaching
A monthly training
A live Q&A call
And the best community around.
Click here to join us.
When a recruiter opens your resume, they aren’t looking for why they SHOULD interview you.
Instead they are looking for reasons why they SHOULDN’T.
Which means that any glaring red flags are sure to put you in the NO pile and ruin any hopes you have for that job.
There will always be those jobs that we won’t get an interview for, maybe we are missing a key piece of experience or education or maybe there is a gap the hiring manager is trying to fill. We don’t want to stress too much about that because it is completely out of our control.
But there are many red flags that are entirely within our control, ones that we need to address in order to increase the odds of ending up in the YES pile and keeping our dreams alive for landing that job.
1. Resume is Messy
By messy I mean that there are mistakes present that shouldn’t be present. Typos, spelling mistakes and grammar issues are problems that could instantly destroy your chances of moving forward.
There are times when those errors are forgiven but for many roles that require writing skills or attention to detail then chances are this easily avoided mistake could be the end of the road for you.
Beyond the written aspect of your resume, pay attention to your formatting. Make sure it is consistent throughout and that there aren’t any glaring formatting errors. That way you can get that call inviting you in for an interview.
2. Resume is Confusing
As soon as the recruiter has to think about what you are trying to tell them you are in the NO pile.
If your resume is a Functional resume that is skills focused then chances are it is never even read by the recruiter. Why? It’s just too confusing and the recruiter has to figure out where you worked and where you used those skills. Too much work for a 6 second read.
Employment Gaps fall in this area too. I don’t stress too much about gaps that were more than 10 years ago, but if they fall in the last decade include them in your resume. Call it an Employment Sabbatical and describe quickly why you had the gap (in a way you are comfortable with and that is short and sweet).
This also goes for any interesting career journeys, maybe there was overlap in roles or you were working two jobs at once. If that is the case, edit yourself first. Keep only what matters to THIS job in the resume. If those extras don’t matter then keep them out. If they do, then using 2-3 words include a brief note in your content about the overlap.
If don’t want to raise a red flag, address these issues ASAP!
3. Resume isn’t the Right Length
If you have more than 5 years of experience then a 1 page resume might not be for you. If you have less than 5 years of experience, then don’t have a 3 page resume.
Create a resume that tells your career story, don’t skimp on it or pad it.
If you have 2 or 3 pages in your resume, make sure those extra pages are at least half full. A 1 ¼ page resume is annoying and not aesthetically pleasing!
Any of these mishaps can land you in that pile you dread.
4. Resume Doesn’t Sell You
There is a lot of push on accomplishment based bullets points and, honestly, rightly so. But what can get lost there are key tasks that are a part of your job and the job you are applying for. Your content for each position should demonstrate what you do, how you make a difference and your accomplishments.
To determine how much focus you need to have on the tasks, take a look at your career and the role you are applying for. Is it task based or results based? If it is task based and you haven’t focused on that, then the NO pile is where you’ll end up.
5. Resume has a Bad Case of TMI
Is your resume full of information? A Skills Highlight section which is like an essay? Or a block of bullet points that looks like a copy and paste of the job description.
A recruiter is skimming resumes and when they skim, any big block of text will overwhelm them and raise a red flag. Which means you end up in the NO pile.
6. Resume Doesn’t Tell Your Story
Your resume is a marketing document, like an advertisement. It needs to tell the story of your career and how you are the ONE for the job. We tend to jump straight into our tasks or accomplishments instead of giving the recruiter a sense of what you’ve done. A simple sentence outlining the overall purpose of each role allows them to finish the skim satisfied. But if a recruiter skims your resume and doesn’t know exactly who you are and what you do then they won’t bring you in for an interview.
Red flags pop up throughout the entire job search, if you need help identifying and removing them, then the Career You Love Academy is the place for you.
One red flag is starting your job search with your resume, one of the nine most common mistakes that job seekers make. To fix that and the other 8, watch the free masterclass, "The Secrets to Finding a Job You Love".
Sara Curto helps people find a career they love by teaching them a new way to job search.
The Secrets to finding a job you love
Click HERE to watch