Blogs Blogs ... Careers TechJobs — 06 September 2013
Unhappy at work? Think carefully before jumping ship

had the opportunity during the first few months of the year to speak at a few job-seeker events. I also regularly spend one-on-one time with professionals who are looking for a new position or thinking about looking around.

If you are unhappy in your current position, you need to do some serious thinking before you make a move — or you are likely to find yourself in the same situation again.

Try this exercise. Get yourself in a good head space (whatever that means to you) and take an inventory of your career:

  • What was your favorite position? Why?
  • What was your least favorite position? Why?
  • Are there any similarities? What are they?
  • What are the biggest differences?

This is harder than it sounds. Once you get started you'll know what I mean. Okay, now that you have a bunch of random thoughts down, let's do something with them.

Think about the characteristics of a job that would make you happy. Maybe it's a short commute, visibility at the executive level, having a direct impact on customers, income, or work schedule flexibility. List the top ten most desirable. You are essentially writing your ideal job description.

Next, we need to identify the characteristics you like the least. What three tasks would drive you crazy if they were a big part of your next position? Try not to make these just the flip-sides of items on your top ten most-desirable list.

Once you have this list complete, record it and put it in a safe place. Now you have your ideal position. Onward!

Next, list your five greatest strengths. What do you consistently excel at in your current and past career positions? What do you repeatedly get recognized for? Here's a hint: some of these may match components of your top ten list.

Also, you’ll need to identify the things that you are not good at. Although I believe that working to improve on some of your professional weaknesses is important in your personal growth, it’s not a good idea to look at positions that will cause you to work on them 40-50 hours per week. Let’s identify these things now, so you don’t end up in a position in which you dread going to work every day.

Now that you have identified your ideal job and listed your strengths and weaknesses, it’s time to refresh your resume. You want to look like the person you identified in your lists, and you want to look like an attractive candidate for the position you’re seeking.

For the next exercise, you may need another pair of eyes. Enlist the help of a friend or family member who works as a hiring manager and is accustomed to reading resumes. Does the information on your resume “speak” to the type of company and position that you identified in your top ten list? Do the strengths you listed come out? Do you reveal your personality in the tone of your resume? I’m amazed at how many people talk to me about who they are, but convey a completely different message when I look at their resumes.

Once you identify the position you would truly love, determine the areas in which you excel, and articulate who you really are in your resume, the opportunities you are looking for will begin to appear.