Ready to apply for that new job? Maybe. You have your resume prepared, you have researched companies and know where you want to apply. Heck, you even bought a new ‘interview’ suit. Think you’re ready? Unless you have asked yourself one very important question and have the answer, you are not ready at all.
Most job seekers miss one very important step in the ‘new job quest’ journey. You must ask and answer this question: “Does this role take me closer to my career goal or further from my career goal”. This is the most important question you can ask yourself.
Yes, I know. I have said ‘most important’ three times already. Well, that’s because it is. Why? Because this question and its answer forces one to remain focused on one’s ultimate goal (think long term) rather than focusing on the immediate gratification of a new job (think short term).
Too often job seekers either don’t have a long term career plan or if they do, forget about it when looking for new opportunities. When we are seeking a new job, usually, we are trying to address some situation in the moment. Unhappy at work, not enough money, commute is too long, etc.
It is my belief that true career success and real career ownership stems from one’s ability to measure the proposed career step against the greater career goal. Meaning, each career step you take must be analyzed to ensure that it propels you closer to your goal. It should be a true stepping stone to the ultimate goal. A new role should not only match your skills and abilities, but must fit into the grander picture for your career.
At some point in a career, most people will look around one day and wonder how in the heck did I get here? Slowly, they will realize that they have been on a 2 year, 5 year, 10 year career detour. Somewhere along the line they lost sight of their ultimate goal. (Or maybe they never had one to begin with.) Are you on a career detour? If so, I ask you, how many more detours can you afford?
Let’s look at some examples of what creating another career detour looks like and what measuring each career opportunity against the ultimate career goal. These examples come from the experiences of my clients. Their names have been changed.
Carrie wanted to move into a managerial role in an accounting firm. For several years she applied for and accepted administrative roles in the firm. She was taking lateral roles that did not build her skills and did not give her a pay increase. She was taking the roles because ‘it was something new’. The roles were new, but skill set required was not new, nor did the roles offer her the opportunity to learn any new skills. As a result, Carrie was moving farther from her goal, and found herself stuck in a string of administrative roles. She was not getting any closer to her goal because she was not asking herself if the roles she was taking were moving her toward her goal. This is a perfect example of a career detour.
Contrast Carrie’s experience to that of Susan’s. Susan wanted to move into a Human Resources Manager role. Despite being offered roles in talent acquisition, Susan would only apply for and accept roles that helped her grow in the field of human resources, and that would give her specific experience that she felt she needed to gain. Susan was asking herself if roles she was being offered moved her toward her goal. If the role did not move her closer to her goal, she would not accept it. Today Susan manages an HR department in a financial company.
One last point. A major component of the work I do with clients is to help them own their careers. A part of owning your career is ensuring you are making choices that support your highest good. When you make choices that support your goals and support the outcome you want to have, you own your career. An easy first step on the road is always having “The most important question” as your primary starting point for any career decisions. Asking and answering this question will prevent career detours, give you career ownership, and ultimately, move you closer to your goal.
So before you hit that ‘apply now’ button, ask yourself “Does this role move me closer to my career goal or further from my career goal?” The answer will determine if you should click that button or not.
Peace and Light
Rebecca Le Vine
Career Transition Specialist