Natalie’s Situation: I was unhappy in my most recent job since shortly after I began it six months ago. The mission of the organization was a strong fit for me, and I thought the work involved would be too, and it was, to a degree.
However, it very quickly became apparent that the Executive Director and I had very different work and leadership styles that would not be compatible long-term. I thought I was doing an okay job of working through our differences while I figured out what I was looking for next, but I was recently let go.
I’m realizing now I didn’t have a strong career goal in mind when I took this position, and still don’t have a strong feeling of what I want to work towards.
Natalie’s Question: How can I find clarity on both my short-term and long-term career goals? And how do I avoid getting stuck in self-analysis?
Sara’s Answer: Natalie was feeling financial pressure to get another job quickly. While her circumstances meant that she didn’t have as much time to thoughtfully evaluate her options with as much depth as she might have preferred, she still wanted to make a solid short-term choice that kept her longer term career goals in mind.
I suggested my top three strategies for finding a job now, while also keeping the long-term career prospects in mind.
Find a short-term job that supports a potential long-term job.
Using the information available to you now, is there a short-term job you could take to possibly leverage a better long-term position in the future? You need a job today, so why not decide on and implement a plan that allows you to use that short-term position as a way to serve your long range goals or even help you figure out what those long-term goals are.
For example, a quick fix short term job might be working in retail or restaurants, but these jobs didn’t fit in with the bigger picture non-profit career that Natalie was hoping to build. Even if she didn’t know the exact non-profit to target, putting her energies into a job in her desired industry would be a much better choice for her long term career prospects.
Whether it’s test-driving a new field, position, or office environment, try to make your short-term position choice something you are deciding on based on what you know about yourself, rather than something that is happening to you.
Every opportunity is a chance to learn something.
In the job where she was let go, Natalie learned exactly what kind of work environment she did (and did not) want to be in. For someone who was looking for her next position to be long-term, knowing exactly what type of work environment she liked is a pretty valuable lesson to have under her belt.
The next position that Natalie takes will similarly offer a lesson. While we’d all want that lesson to be, “This is it! This is where I want to be right now,” know that it’s okay if something is still a little off. Careers span a long time, and each step we take along the way informs our future ability to both identify and get what we want.
When you take this attitude of being open to learning as you go, it takes some of the pressure off of getting everything right all at once.
Don’t think, just show up.
Natalie was very aware that spending too much time thinking and analyzing what had happened and what she should do next would get her stuck in her own head, spinning her wheels. So, we discussed a challenge that she go to two events every week that related to the non-profit work that she was most interested in.
Her intention was to get out of her comfort zone and get in front of people. You never know who you’re going to meet where. So, get out there. If it’s awkward or uncomfortable, even better. At each event, she set a goal for herself – hand out three business cards and talk to two new people. These mini-goals would allow her to learn of new opportunities and build relationships that could help her in both the short and long term.
Feeling pressure to land a new job STAT can be a tough road to navigate. However, if you can work with what you do know, be open to lessons along the way, and get out into the world to connect with your desired industry, you’ll be able to make strong career decisions that support both your current self and your future goals.
What have you done in a transitional time? How have you made short-term opportunities work for yourself? Let us know in the comments.
“I found Sara’s approach to be very gentle, but focused. She genuinely cared and wanted to help me make the best decisions for where I was without adding unnecessary stress.” – Just Get Me Pointed in the Right Direction Client