The ‘Uncut Series’ is a set of audio out-takes that I recorded on the fly based around the 7 Job Search Pillars. The audio contains comment and valuable insight – on how to be happy at work – derived from personal and professional experiences that have helped me and many others discover a career path towards their dream job.
It’s funny when I look back on my career I have to think to myself or I do think to myself that I made some misguided choices. Given that most of my career has been spent in recruitment and marketing and advising people on how to make decisions in their career and successfully so, because many of the people that I’ve helped I’ve helped into jobs that they really enjoyed. Many of the people that I’ve worked with in the past and they’re still enjoying what they do. But for me personally up until about 2011 I’d been unhappy in many of the jobs that I’ve done and in many of the situations that I’ve been, but I’ve just not been able to put my finger on it or even recognize it or face up to the fact that I haven’t been happy.
It was a case of me going from job to job. At least with the early parts of my career anyway my ambitions were all about making as much money as I possibly could as quickly as I could, to buy big cars, to buy, I suppose, to focus on quite materialistic things as opposed to focusing on the things that really made me happy. Right now when I look back I can’t underestimate how important happiness in my career because happiness in your career, happiness in your job, it affects so many aspects of your life. For me I didn’t stop to think about what direction I wanted to take as I went from job to job. I didn’t take time to stop and think.
Think is such an I suppose an underused tool as part of your career search. It was an underused tool as part of my career search. As I said I made hasty decisions, and that was based on earning a wage. I wanted to obviously continue to earn a wage. I had bills to pay. I had loans and credit cards that were burdening me, and I thought, “I’ve got to get these bills paid. What am I going to do if I don’t continue working? I’m not going to be able to pay these bills.”
As I approached each job, as I felt I was coming towards the end of each job, and by that I mean each and every job that you do there’s always a natural point at which you begin to feel as though you need something more and you’re in a situation where either that job can’t offer what you’re looking for or you’re in a job where the job can offer you what you’re looking for and it’s a matter of figuring that out between you and your boss. For me I came to the point where I came to realize that the jobs that I was in had no more to offer for me. But I didn’t take that opportunity, I didn’t take that step to figure out why that was, I didn’t take that time to think about why that was.
So when I look back now for example, one thing that I knew or know now at least that was making me unhappy was the fact that I’m the kind of person who likes to have responsibility. I like to take charge of what I’m doing. I like to be trusted in order to take charge in what I’m doing. There were particular circumstances in which I felt I wasn’t given that space, given that responsibility, and given that trust from my managers in order to take responsibility for the work and deliver on what it was I was doing at that particular time.
That was one of the things that was making me unhappy. What I should’ve done you either talk to your boss or I should’ve talked to my boss and said, “You give me this role, you give me this responsibility, so let me run with it. I’m giving results, so let me run with it and do what I’m employed to do.” Or the alternative would be if that wasn’t an option as I said before if you’ve reached a point where you’re exhausted all your options inside of your current role, your option is to find a role that would allow me to I suppose use those attributes that I just talked about, would give me the scope and the responsibility to make decisions for myself and go ahead and do that.
I didn’t think about that. I just thought about getting my next job, getting my next wage, getting a pay rise as well which I managed to do, but that to me was important, more important than figuring out what made me happy.
There’s five things now that I always do each and every time that I’m considering a new position or considering a new change in direction of my career.
I really want to understand what I didn’t enjoy. I look at all my previous jobs and think to myself what is it about this job that I didn’t enjoy doing, because if I didn’t enjoy doing that … Okay, every job has elements or things that you don’t enjoy, but if it’s so intense that you don’t enjoy it, that you completely abhor doing something then don’t do it or don’t choose a job that involves that as the main element of the job. Identify the things that you don’t enjoy. That’s what I didn’t do.
Another thing is understand the things that I did enjoy, [I needed to] make those things a priority in terms of my job search. That’s what I always do now. I always try to understand the things that I really enjoy. One of the things I really enjoy is helping people so that should be near the top of my list.
Another thing which you should do, and I, again I didn’t do this and do it now is that don’t … Is this temptation of when you have, like I said, you might be made redundant, you might’ve lost your job, you might be in a position where you need to just find a new role or career path. Don’t make a hasty decision. Gain your composure. Because if you don’t gain that composure, that state of mind where you can be stable in your thought process, be stable in your decision making, be stable in the delivery of your, I don’t know, your interview, then it’s going to reflect to the people that you’re networking with, it’s going to reflect in your interview, is going to reflect in your CV and cover letter. That anxiety can show itself in many ways in many forms.
So gain composure. Even if that might mean talking to somebody, talking to, I don’t know, talking to a colleague, a trusted friend, talking to your family, talking to a career advisor, a professional, somebody who can help you to figure out what’s going on and to make a plan so you can go about things in a logical and a systematic way so you’ve got your composure. That will help to build your confidence and that will reflect in your interview.
That’s something I didn’t do as well, I didn’t gain my composure. There’s many times I went through many, many interviews without that preparation, without that composure and I got rejected. The interviewers could see right through me, they could see the lack of composure, they could see the lack of confidence and I they just went on to the next person and I went through umpteen interviews before I got to my next role. If only I’d gained that confidence and gained that composure beforehand then I might have been able to find my job much quicker, and my confidence once I found that new job would’ve been at a much higher level. But I didn’t do that.
Another important thing to think about is goals as well, setting clear logical goals. Set goals short term for the short term. For example, this week I’m going to contact this employer, that employer, and this employer. I’m going to make sure that my CV is ready for them so that I can tailor it and I can be ready for my application. Short term goals. Medium term goals might be: I’ve got this job now. I want to make sure that over the next 30 to 90 days I integrate within the team, I can integrate within the business, I can get used to the business, I can get any training that I need to make sure that my first 90 days is a success. That could be a medium term goal. A long term goal: the next three to five years I want to be in this position in this job. I want to gain the trust of my colleagues. I want to gain a promotion. I want to take the next step up in my plan for example.
Setting goals is so important because then if you can achieve those goals that can affect confidence, it can affect determination to really achieve what you want in your career, whether that be in a job or whether that be whatever career path you decide eg as a business owner it’s important to set goals and you’d be in a much better situation. From my point of view, I didn’t do all these things, I didn’t set goals. I lacked that composure. I didn’t look at what I really enjoyed and what I didn’t enjoy. That resulted in as I said going from job to job having the same experiences each time, so having that feeling of unhappiness and after a year or two wanting to subconsciously wanting to just get up and leave and being unhappy. It was something that I just took home with me. I was at home with family, at home with my children just being unhappy. That was like I said because the situation at work wasn’t agreeing with what I really wanted from life.
Don’t underestimate the importance of really thinking about what makes you happy, thinking about what doesn’t make you happy, taking time on your own in a quiet place, a place that you can feel relaxed, you can feel there’s no distraction, no disturbances, and you can just get on with thinking and reflecting on what has happened in the past and what you want to achieve in the future.