Job Search vs. Career Search

Tony Robbins once said “most people overestimate what they can accomplish in a year – and underestimate what they can achieve in a decade.” This statement really struck me when I read it. It reminds me to not only look at my immediate goals for this year, but also invest time and energy thinking about what I want to accomplish in 3, 5, 8, and 10 years and how to get there over time.

It also triggered me to think that there are probably two kind of job seekers out there today

  1. short term focused – “I want/need to find a job in these areas asap making $__ much.”
  2. career focused – “In 5 to 8 years, I want to do ___ with my career in ___ areas (e.g., have P&L; responsibility working in the high tech industry). I have gained ___ skills and ____experience from my past work. For my next job, I would like to develop ____ skills and _______ experiences in order to strive toward my long term goals. Given that, I am looking for jobs in these 3 areas. My plan B in case I don’t find anything in X months, is to find work that will support me financially and utilizes my existing skills so I can buy time and then switch to the job I really want when the market gets better.”

Many job seekers are type 1 above and especially in today’s market. There is nothing wrong with that. However, I believe those who are more career-focused can feel more empowered in their job search as well as achieve amazing things in 10 years.

Did you know that on average it takes 2 to 3 months to find another good job in a normal market for an above average performer? In this market, it’s looking more like 5 or 6 months even if you are top notch and probably 9 to 18 months if you are average? Are you ready to be out of work that long emotionally or financially?

There is good news. You can choose to think about this statistics from a positive angle and say to yourself “Now is the time to not only look for work, but reassess my career goals and explore what I want to do long term”. You can choose to be in the driver seat of your own job search and think of this time as an investment you are making for your long term career. In that case, your job search effort can include all five goals below.

  1. Evaluate what you have achieved in past work and understand what like and dislike about your past jobs
  2. Explore what you want to do long term (5 year horizon perhaps). People on average have six careers in their life, so there is no need to worry about finding ONE passion in life. Just think about what you want to do in the next decade and know that it will change as you think about it over time.
  3. Have and follow plan A and plan B – Plan A is finding work that would help develop new skills and move you closer toward your career goals. Plan B is finding work to survive and buy time until market is better so you can again follow Plan A.
  4. Network and build your personal brand – Many people shy away from this when they are out of work because they are embarrassed perhaps. But guess what this is the best time to network because you have time. You can also proactively craft how you project yourself in front of others and shape their perception of who are and what you want to achieve long term. The best way to find a good job fast is through someone you know.
  5. Last, but not the least, learn and improve your job search skills – many of us don’t have any training in how to look for work. It’s not taught that well in any schools, so even if you are top notch at what you do, you may only have the basic skills when it comes to job search. It’s ok as long as you recognize that. During job search, it’s the time to also develop your skills in how to find work and contemplate about your career. Ask friends with more experience, buy books, read blogs, and learn from trial and error. As long as you make it one of your goals, you will develop more skills in this arena and become savvier every time. This will help you in the long term as you will looking for work many times in your career.

For more around what you could do with your job search effort, check out my future post on Job Search Check List. I leave you with another quote from Tony Robbins “Each of us has a talent, a gift, our own bit of genius just waiting to be tapped.”

Have fun exploring what your genius is and how you want to use that in the world 🙂

– Lei

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