My secret checklist and video for fall recruiting season

3 simple questions can pinpoint your readiness for a job change

It’s still August, but I'm already swamped by the September Recruiting Season — bombarded by inquiries about updating resumes, CVs and LinkedIn profiles, jump-starting job searches and personal branding.

Are you are contemplating a career move this year or next?

I think you will like what I am about to show you — my “secret” three-point checklist, revealed here for the first time. It will test your readiness for the recruiting season with three simple questions (based on eight years of experience helping 1500 talented people advance their careers): 

  • What do you want from your next job that you can't get from your current job?
  • Are you secretly miserable at work, but too afraid to make a move?
  • Should you be working for yourself?

1. What do you want from your next job that you can't get from your current job?

If you can't answer this question quickly — in 10 words or less after waking up from a sound sleep — you're probably not ready to start a job search.

Most people can't answer this question in a useful way. I meet an unusually high percentage of people who seem eager to jump blindly into something new but have no idea what they really want. Here are examples of a vague answer and a clear answer:

  • Vague answer (CIO): "My target is to secure a new CIO position at a midsize and growing technology company with a collaborative culture and innovative products. The specific sector doesn't matter. I enjoy being immersed in the company's market ecosystem. Also, I'd like to give back — maybe doing something that benefits society..." BZZZZZZZZZZZT! Wrong answer.

  • Clear answer (CIO): "I want to be the top decision-maker for IT for a national retail chain. In fact, I want my boss's job — running global IT for our company. I like my current job but, unfortunately, my boss is about the same age as me and has no plans to leave. I am ambitious and eager to advance — in several ways, I'm more qualified than my boss..." Good Answer.

  • Comment: A successful job search in 2016-2017 demands "burning desire." Yeah, I know that sounds like a cliché, but If you lack burning desire for a clearly defined job, you probably won't reach your goal. Without burning desire, you'll be crushed by your competitors and the cold indifference of prospective employers. Based on firsthand observation, every success story starts with a clear goal and burning desire.

2. Are you secretly miserable at work, but too afraid to make a move?

You're not alone. The employment scene — our entire economy — is creaking along on fear and uncertainty. Worse, according to every survey I’ve seen, most people are not happy at work. Just Google “I hate my job” and you’ll see what I mean. 

But you can't hide forever. If you just sit there, stewing in your juices — getting angry and feeling miserable — sooner or later your job will cause mental and physical sickness. If you don’t like your job, your colleagues and bosses probably already sense that you’re not 100% with the program and — sooner or later — they’ll push you out during a layoff or reorg. So take action now, and be sure to do the following:

  • Leverage your "employed" status: As a rule, potential employers prefer to interview candidates who are already working. Start a “stealth search” and look as happy as possible at your current job. This simple act — starting a search — will release some of the inner pressure you’re feeling.

  • Decide your area of interest: This step is similar to answering Question 1: “What do you want from your next job that you can't get from your current job?” At the very least, decide on a general area of interest — fashion? finance? writing? If you have no idea what you want to do, start by listing areas that absolutely DO NOT interest you. This process of elimination shrinks your universe of possibilities to manageable size, so you’ll feel less overwhelmed (it worked for me, 25 years ago, when I left engineering and started a new career in advertising).

  • Pay attention to daydreams: After you decide an area of interest, narrow it to a specific occupation. Under fashion, for example, your burning desire might be design, merchandising or PR. What are your old classmates doing? Look them up on LinkedIn and map out their career transitions. At this point — usually for only a few seconds — you’ll probably glimpse your heart’s desire, get scared, and turn away. Don’t sell yourself short! If you discover your goal but feel overwhelmed and helpless, hire a coach to talk you through the next steps. 

3. Self-employment: Should you be working for yourself?

I meet many people who should be working for themselves, but they don't even know it. I can tell that certain people should be working for themselves after interviewing them for just a few minutes. These people will never be happy climbing somebody else’s ladder. 

I discovered this for myself at age 40. I made the jump to self-employment about 25 years ago. I had a detailed plan but — halfway into the project — all my plans fell apart and I had to start over. Everything worked out for me — and I promise things will work out for you if you take this route!

  • Be open to self-employment: Maybe your employers are not the problem — maybe you will never be satisfied until you take charge of your own destiny, chart your own course and work for yourself. The older you get, the more sense self-employement makes.

  • Are you over 60? Self-employment might be the most viable option — maybe the only option — for people over 60 who possess marketable skills and don't want to retire. I’m 66 and I love what I’m doing — no desire to retire at this time.

  • Good news: No matter what you call it — consulting, contracting, freelancing — self-employment is a trend that makes great economic sense for companies. Google the term “contract employment” and you’ll see what I mean.

  • Comment: The hardest part of self-employment is not the logistics. The hardest part is deciding to take that first step, cut the corporate umbilical cord and strike out on your own. 

Video: These birds will teach you a lesson about job searching you'll never forget!

Can we learn anything from the birds? Yes!

I promise this short video will inspire you with a strategy you'll never forget!

Thank you for visiting, and I wish you the very best of good luck in your search!

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Copyright © 2016 IDG Communications, Inc.

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