You’ve finally had enough! You’re ready to move on and to find a new job and company. While your interest to move on is high, you’re stuck because the job search process seems like it has so many tasks and not enough time. How do you move forward?
As a Career Coach, I work with lots of professionals who are thinking through career moves and transitions, and while many of them know that they want to find a new job they struggle with where to start and how to go about making moves.
After coaching hundreds of professionals through this process, I’ve put together a playbook that you can use for finding your next job.
The playbook is a great starting point if you’re looking for some structure and guidance on finding that next great role, and while it certainly omits some things is holistic enough that it should get you the inertia and momentum you need to find your next role. So with that, here we go!
The first step in this process is to dig deep and understand how you feel about your current job and what is causing you to want to look for another job. Let’s make an assumption that you don’t need to leave today. If that is the case, it’s important to make sure that you have exhausted all your means at the company you are at before you jump ship to a new one.
If at the end of the reflection you realize that there might be a chance to stay by changing things up or finding a new role, great, you just saved yourself a ton of time and effort.
If not, that is fine too, and you can now move forward with the job search process. Below are some questions to guide your self-reflection.
Answering these should give you some clarity:
Since you’ve determined you want to move on from your current company and role, it’s now time to figure out where you want to go next. Some of you already know this, and if you do, you can skip this question. Here are some popular paths that people go down to find a new job.
Same thing, different company — You like the role or the function you are in, but you want to do it at another company
Different company, different thing — You’re struggling with the role or function you are in, and the company you are working at.
Some mixture of the two — You potentially want to change the role/function and the company. Perhaps you want to do the same thing, but at a startup. Or, as a consultant, you’ve served lots of clients in the healthcare industry and you want to move into a functional role for a healthcare company.
When it comes down to it, you want to find out is the what, the where and the why:
Key Questions to answer:
Self-reflection is important, but so is going out and finding information and opinions that will augment the self-reflection that you do. Afterall, if you want to become a brand manager, no better way to find out than to actually go and talk to a few!
Or, if you want to know what it’s like to work at Company X, reading Glassdoor reviews and talking to employees who work there is a great start.
Find People to Talk to
If you’re a high performing candidate, odds are you have a decent to great network, and that’s the best place to start. Use LinkedIn to help with this, but here are a few types of people to talk to:
There are lots of things you can learn in the research and information gathering stage, but here are the ones that I suggest at a minimum you look for. At the end of conversations, you should be able to:
If you use these as a guide for your conversations and information gathering, you can then tailor your questions or research to ensuring you can answer these key points.
Researching Companies, Jobs, roles, etc
Here is the kind of research you want to do, and where to do it
A key note here: Everyone has their own unique path, and while talking to people is going to help you immensely it’s important to recognize that you need to follow the path and steps that are right for you, not the tried and true, or what someone who is like you would do. In some cases, it will be very similar.
For example, many consultants who want to work in Tech, end up making the move into a Business Operations role within a Tech company. Having said that, if that is not what is right for you, then don’t go down that route.
Additionally, it can be easy to fixate on those people who are very advanced in their careers who you might want to become one day.
While it’s great to see them and to understand how they made it to where they were in their career, because everyone’s path is different, you may or may not have a similar path.
The important thing is to learn their story, what motivates them to do what they did, and how they navigated the challenges and opportunities along the way, not learning how to copy what they did.
Now that you’ve gathered a ton of information and had a bunch of conversations with people out in the field, it’s time to synthesize that information and make sense of what you learned.
The goal here is to eventually come to some takeaways of what you learned, but also, to eventually use that information to come up with the types of jobs, roles, and companies that you want to pursue. Below are some questions that can help with this:
Once you’ve sufficiently reflected, it’s time to come up with some hypotheses about paths you want to pursue for your next job. The key here is to eventually come up with 1–3 (I would say max 3) career paths that you want to pursue for your next job.
These are hypotheses, so they don’t need to be fully correct, but what you really want is get a few paths or lanes to help your focus when you start looking for and applying to jobs. So what is a hypotheses and how does it look?
Again, just like in science, hypotheses are things that you eventually go out and prove whether they are true or not, so don’t feel like you need to be 100% correct on something. Having them will help you narrow your focus in your job search, but ultimately, being able to compare them against each other will help you use process of elimination to find out what you really like versus what is just “okay.”
Examples of Career Hypotheses/tracks
I won’t go into too many details in this section other than to say that it’s important to spend time to get these things done. If you need help with any of these things, check out some of my quick guides or contact me for more specific coaching.
Compensation is an important topic to cover. At some point, this topic will come up, so it’s important to be informed and to have a number (I personally prefer a range so it mitigates anchoring bias) that is backed by some calculation and research. Here are a few tools for how you can figure this out:
Use the job boards and salary specific resources to get ballpark estimates and accept the fact that while it’s a great directional indicator it’s not perfect. Back that up with any actual data you can get with people to determine what the ranges are, and figure out the range for you.
Before you apply to any posting, my advice, especially for in-demand candidates is to work your network to get introductions to recruiters and hiring managers. These introductions essentially are referrals and get you in through the side door of the recruiting process.
While it’s still fine to apply to job postings on a whim, or, to apply to a posting and have someone put a referral inf or you, getting to the recruiter, hiring manager, or someone who might be hiring in the future allows for a more high-touch experience, a chance for you to get time to explain your background and interests, and potential access to more opportunities that 95% of the other candidates won’t get access to.
Here are a few examples of how this works:
That means that you are competing with millions of candidates for 30% of the total postings. Using your network to get to recruiters and hiring managers is a good alternative.
If you want to knock your interviews out of the park it’s important to spend some time preparing for them. I’ve written a much more detailed approach for how I prepare for interviews but here is a quick summary:
Finding your next job is a process that requires time, effort and persistence. Not everything here is required for you to find a job, and you can certainly play with the order of how you do some of these things.
However, if you follow this guide, I’m confident you’ll be well on your way to finding your next job. And if you happen to need help with any of it, please reach out.
Thank you for reading!