CareerResumeSuccess Ladder

Written by Kesha Brown

Identify the characteristics that are important for your next job and search for opportunities that offer just that. 

In 1997, I started my first job as a call receiving operator for an ambulance company. I was 16 years old. At that time, I was hungry to work and make my own money. Because I was young and just starting out in my career, I experienced many incidents of verbal abuse. I was promoted three times, and during my last promotion to medical biller, I inherited the boss from hell. My new boss often took advantage of me, forcing me to work many times when I was very sick and by asking me to do a lot of work outside of my job description, which often meant staying at work past my shift. At times, I worked 10+ hours a day, though I was only on schedule to work eight.

A lot of what was happening bothered me. I often cried and was very depressed at times, but I never complained to anyone. You know why? At that time in my life, all I wanted from my job was to make money and more of it. I had no clue about what I wanted from my career or what I wanted from a job. I just knew I wanted to earn as much money as I could. Because I earned a decent amount of money, I overlooked the poor treatment I was experiencing and continued to work there for many years. I focused my energy on earning as much money as possible, not on job offerings or the condition of my work environment.

Most of us at that age are too young to identify the job we want. When we are young and starting out, we spend years going from job to job in search of the next dollar up until we finally realize as we get older that making more does not equate to happiness. Now, 20+ years later looking back, I would’ve told my younger self, “Kesha, yes, you want money, but you also want a job that is in line with your career path and passion: one that offers an open-door policy, honest communication with management, mentorship, professional career development, and flexibility. You want a job that offers the ability to work remotely, sponsors wellness (like gym memberships), offers room for growth, a culture with values that you believe in, and a variety of benefits. You want to work for a company that cares about the community and provides opportunities for employees to volunteer and make a positive impact.”

I share this story as an example of how important it is to identify what you want in your job because you will waste years being miserable, unhealthy, and stuck if you don’t. If you only want more money, then that’s exactly what you are going to get. The sad truth is that if you want a job that pays you more money, you often sacrifice a lot of your personal time; those jobs have limited work-life balance, which results in poor mental health from increased levels of stress and unhappiness over time. No job is ever worth your health!

Do you see why it is so important to identify what’s important for your next job and search for opportunities that offer just that?

What do you want? I mean what do you really, really want? 

Two-thirds of workers in the workforce are unhappy with their jobs. That is a large number–almost half of the workforce. Why on earth are all these people so unhappy? It’s simple. They have not taken the time to analyze what exactly it is that they want from their jobs, so they continue to engage in them in hopes that one day, the job will magically morph into their dream job. Guess what? It never happens!

Let me help you get started in this area. The first step in this process of identifying your dream job is to conduct a self-assessment analysis, which includes asking yourself really important questions, like questioning where are you in your life right now. Really ask yourself this question, and be honest with yourself when you answer.

Are you just starting with less than 10 years of experience? Maybe you are young and hungry to make money and learn as much as you can. In that case, finding a job with great offerings such as the option to work remotely, an open-door policy, a gym membership, room for growth, and a great culture might be the priority right now. If this is where you are, then that might mean you are more flexible with the job you want, and you maybe focused on companies that are in line with your career path/passion or that offer mentorship or professional development.

Are you in you in mid-career stage with 15 years or less of experience? You may have a family now. At this level, many people want flexibility in their careers that allows them to take care of their families and other responsibilities. This means more paid time off, opportunities to work remotely, and flexibility with your schedule. Basically, your dream job at this stage offers you the convenience of using your time the way you want.

Are you in the executive-level stage with 16+ years of experience with grown kids or maybe no kids? This is where I am right now. I have invested 21+ years of work. Most people reach this point and often consider taking their careers to the next level because they are more flexible with time and have fewer pressing priorities. They might think about fulfilling their dreams of becoming an entrepreneur by working part-time in their business until they are ready to walk away from their 9 to 5 job. Others are looking for our favorite word: money. This where you can pick and choose where you want to work because you are a veteran now. You pick your salary and all the sweet spots of your ideal dream job.

What is important to you right now? Write it down. I recommend writing down everything that is important for you to have at your next job and then use the process of elimination to narrow them down to your top five. Talk to family and friends about the things that you want from your next job. You will be surprised at the suggestions or recommendations they share, which can assist you with narrowing down your list.

Finalize your top five job needs and focus on finding jobs that offer just that and I guarantee you happiness and career growth.

If you are still struggling to narrow down this list, I would highly recommend investing in a career coach, which is a great service offered here at Brown Resumes, Inc.

Change your mindset and prepare for the job you want.

Build the right attitude, and get the confidence to search and to ask for what you want. Learn to walk away if what you want is not available. As Oprah Winfrey says, “It’s our own mindset that’s blocking the path forward.” We will all have serious doubts about whether or not we have what it takes to find the job that we want as well as the confidence to ask for it so that we can succeed and find happiness in our work lives. The problem is that we are already defeated by having the wrong mindset before we start our quests.

Change your mind, change your outlook, change your career, and change your life!

Network and connect with people who can relate to the job you want, and find ways to experiment with the job you want

If you are just starting out in your career and seeking a job within your career path, then I would highly recommend exploring your network to learn about opportunities to shadow someone in your industry, which basically means studying them during their day-to-day routines or executing some of their projects to see if the job is the right fit. Job shadowing is a great opportunity to observe a person performing their daily work routine in their environment. These experiences will allow you to explore specific aspects of a job to get a realistic picture of the working environment which will help you to make an informed decision about your job choice. The benefits of shadowing are getting hands-on experience, the ability to ask realistic questions, and the opportunity to network with folks in your career field of interest. This can mean volunteering or working part-time while you keep your full-time job and take advantages of opportunities that may land you your dream job.

Shadowing an experienced professional can help you decide whether or not you think you would enjoy and feel passionate about the job. It also can help you decide if your skills match your career field of interest and how your skills from school and other jobs might translate.

Is there someone in your industry or at your job you admire? Ask them to be your mentor. A mentor is an experienced professional who can provide invaluable guidance as you begin your career. A mentor can guide you through tricky situations and can help you grow your career by preventing a lot of mistakes and missed opportunities along the way. Your mentor may have access to valuable information such as job opportunities that can take your career to the next level. Since your mentor knows what additional skills and optional certifications are valued in your field, they can point you in the right direction when it comes to investing in your continued education and training. If you have to decide whether to accept a job offer, they can review your offerings to make sure you get a fair deal. When it comes time to ask your boss for a raise, your mentor can give you tips about how to negotiate a higher salary.

Once you find the job you want, watch your career take flight!

SHRM surveys report the more engaged you are, the better you perform at your job! This means if you secure the job you really want, there is no limit to your career path and your success ladder. High-performing employees are offered raises, promotions, and partnerships because word gets out about how well they perform.

I will share a story with you. A director I once worked with named Mr. Kang was offered a major opportunity outside of the job he and I worked at simply because our Executive Director told everyone over and over again about how great of an employee he was and how much he did to improve the organization. It took some convincing, but he finally accepted the outside agency’s offering, increasing his salary from $65K to $95K. He also upgraded to a higher job title. Who on earth increases their salary by $30K from changing jobs? The average salary jump is $10K maximum. The moral of the story is this: High-performing employees love their jobs, and it shows. This can open countless doors for them in the future.

The reality is that you are doing yourself a disservice by continuing to work at a job that you are not happy in. Your decision to torture yourself daily is having a serious affect on your career path, which is resulting in countless lost opportunities.

You will be doing yourself and your career a favor by getting laser-focused on finding the job you want. Remove everything that is a distraction in your life as you pivot to make this major change. You may want to limit distractions, such as hanging out with friends who don’t have focused careers and excessive socializing. It is time to take your career to the next level by designing the job you truly want!

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