By Lauren Celano, CEO, Propel Careers
This is a very uncertain time and many people are anxious, especially people who find themselves in an active job search. Many people feel helpless and are unsure of what to do during this time especially when it comes to making their job search productive. Every year, I provide advice to thousands of people, directly through my career coaching activities and also through the recruiting activities I am involved in. I am privileged to have a unique perspective into both the “job seeker” and the “organization looking to hire”.
Over the next few weeks, I plan to write a few more blogs covering advice for different ways to prepare for and conduct your job search that build off of this one. I am hoping that those of you who read these blogs, find these thoughts helpful.
Self reflect on what you want
Use this uncertain time to focus on what drives you. Reflect on questions such as: What is important to you both for your next role and in your next role? What do you want out of your career? What kind of organization, culture, and colleagues do you want to work with? What would you change, if anything, if you could go back and start your career path over again? What impact do you want to make? What will your legacy by?
Often during times like this, people think a lot about the “meaning” of their life. This desire to have meaning and to positively impact others can be directly translated into career choices. I urge all of you to think about these points, write down your key drivers, and reflect on them throughout your job search and honestly throughout the rest of your career. I suggest reading the book “How will you measure your life?” by Clay Christensen, James Allworth, and Karen Dillon. This book can help put things into perspective.
Drivers come in different forms. They can be related to title/functional role and level of responsibility, they can relate to the level of flexibility provided in a role/schedule, they can relate to the level of visibility within an organization, they can even relate to who you work with and in what type of culture. All drivers have trade-offs – each person needs to weigh these against what is important to them.
Prior to COVID-19, perhaps your drivers focused more on having a “high title” or “large responsibility” or “making the most money possible” and perhaps these mattered more than what organization you worked for. Post-COVID-19, maybe your first driver will be what type of organization you work for and the others will become secondary. This pandemic has provided organizations the opportunity to show their “true colors”. A number of organizations have been proactive to protect and take care of employees by offering flexibility in work schedules (when possible) even before the state-wide bans on non-essential workers were enacted, or by covering salaries during the pandemic or doing other things to show they are truly interested in the health and well-being of their employees. A few other organizations have really shown that they only about their bottom line. Perhaps these stark differences will have job seekers twice about joining certain organizations if given a choice.
I think finding “meaningful” work will become a larger driver for people post COVID-19. A few years ago, I saw a lot of software engineers turn down roles at software companies developing just another “random” app to take roles at companies in the life sciences, healthcare, and medical device sectors since they wanted to contribute to something with more meaningful, such as curing cancer. For people who work in transferable functions such as software, IT, finance and administration, and supply chain – your skills are needed in every industry sector. This may impact how you think about and approach future career prospects.
Maybe one of your drivers will focus on spending more time with your family. Therefore you will focus more on organizations/roles that have family friendly schedules, flexible hours, work from home potential, and more normal expectations for work hours (40 hours/week as compared to 70+ hours/week).
For each of us, our drivers are personal choices, but they do impact where we work and what we do. For me, my drivers include: wanting to make a positive impact on people’s lives, contributing to the development of novel technologies through my work, working in an entrepreneurial environment where I can build something, and being able to network and connect with many different types of people. I have been lucky to find a role that aligns to these. I work in the life sciences sector and therefore am able to contribute to the development of innovative technologies to improve patient care. Through my company, I am able to help people become more confident in their career, thereby helping them succeed. I am able to interact with thousands of people a year who have different backgrounds, functional areas of expertise and interests. It is truly fascinating and intellectually stimulating. I know I am fortunate. I hope this blog has been helpful as you reflect on what is important to you.