Guest Blog Artist: Steph Miller, McCook, NE
Nebraska Aureus Group, an affiliate of C&A Industries, Inc.
The job search can be an overwhelming and exhausting process for sure. In some ways, the entire process reminds me a bit of dating. Two parties getting to know one another, trying to figure out if this relationship could be mutually beneficial. Will this relationship sustain long-term, or will it turn into a summer fling? It can be tricky. I’ve been in the recruiting world for the past 11 years and on a certain level, I consider myself a professional matchmaker. There’s nothing more gratifying in my line of work than helping a professional find that perfect match…their soul mate…in the form of a new job!
Unfortunately, not all partnerships end in eternal bliss. A common break up theme I’ve encountered while working with candidates who are contemplating a career move relates to a disconnect between perception and reality. I’m not placing all of the blame on the candidates. Hiring managers are equally guilty of trying to create a particularly rosy picture of what it looks like to be a part of their team (cue the Lego Movie song “Everything is Awesome”) when the reality is that no situation is perfect.
Every job has aspects that aren’t particularly glamorous and challenges that will surface over time.
If I had to offer one piece of advice to young professionals who are contemplating a career change and wanting to avoid the above mentioned pitfall, it would be this:
“Be the best version of YOU, plain and simple.” – Steph Miller
This might seem incredibly obvious. Yeah, it kind of is, right? But in reality, I think we often lose sight of it during the process. We invest all this time and energy researching the company. We review sample interview questions and have our perfect answers ready to share with the hiring manager. We pick out the perfect interview attire….
I’m not suggesting preparing for an interview isn’t important. It absolutely is! I spend much of my time prepping candidates for their interviews with my clients. What concerns me is when we get to a place where we’re trying to morph ourselves into a version of what we believe the hiring manager wants us to be and, in turn, lose sight of who we really are in the process.
So, how to we avoid falling into such a trap? Here are three key factors to finding AND falling in love with your dream job:
1) Determine what your motivating factors are for making a job change
2) Evaluate whether prospective new employer can fulfill your motivating factors
3) Make your decision from a place of knowledge versus emotion/fear
Determining your motivating factors simply involves really getting to know yourself. What makes you tick? How do you measure your own success? What is lacking in your current job situation that leaves you wanting for more?
Perhaps you’re finding yourself in a situation where you’re working for a company that doesn’t support the notion of continued growth and learning…and you’re the type of person who finds great fulfillment in learning new skills and increasing your knowledge. Maybe success at your current employer is primarily defined through promotions to manager level roles, but you recognize you enjoy being more of an individual contributor.
Perhaps you’re at a point in your life where achieving a better work/life balance is really important.
Once you’ve taken the time to really reflect on what motivates you as a professional, you have a framework through which you can begin evaluating new opportunities! As you’re going through the interview process, you can ask pointed questions that will provide valuable insights. For example, if continued learning is really important to you, what does the prospective new employer do to specifically provide training and development for employees? If finding more of a work/life balance is a main factor for leaving your current employer, how does the new employer foster this among team members? Use the list you’ve put together in the first step to determine if this new opportunity will truly fill whatever voids you’re experiencing in your current employment situation. Talk to current and former employees about their experiences, do some research via social media. Does the company seem to have a good reputation? Do the values they promote seem to fall in line with yours?
Finally, consider the ‘growth edge’ factor, meaning, does this new opportunity challenge you and push you to new levels in your career? It’s so easy to unconsciously fall into the complacency trap. Doing what we know is comfortable. Stretching ourselves takes real guts. It’s scary. I get it. There are unknown factors. The possibility of failing at something doesn’t exactly sound appealing, right? But ultimately, we have to be willing to accept those risks knowing that potential rewards are so much greater. Even if we experience some setbacks along the way, we’re learning and growing from those experiences.
So, you’ve invested time and energy identifying the key factors for your career move. You’ve compared/contrasted this with what the new employer can offer. Now you should be in the right frame of mind to make a decision–a decision based on knowledge versus emotion. You’ve been REAL throughout the process and that, my friend, is so important! If you go through this entire journey trying to portray a certain image to land that perfect new job, the foundation of this new professional relationship is weak. You’re going to find yourself annoyed and miserable within a short period of time.
Be YOU, okay? I guarantee you’ll be way more appealing to the right employer than some overly rehearsed version of the perfect cookie cutter employee.
The Miller Family
(Chad, Steph, Charlotte (3.5 yrs old) & Willa (19 months))
A special thanks to Steph for sharing her thoughts!