Often I am asked, “How do I know what I want to do next?”
To which I respond, “Only you truly know.”
I know, it sounds like a cop out. Yet, I really believe that we have the answers inside ourselves far more often than we think we do. As a coach, speaker, and student of women’s leadership, I feel very compassionate about helping women find their calling. And, often their current gig is not getting it done. We tend to accept the dull reality of our current job or workplace, and not question why we dread going to work.
Since writing Pivot Point, we have researched additional resources and tools with amazing women leaders. While the key principles still apply – being authentic, expressing confidence, building a winning career game plan, connecting with purpose, asking for it, and leading with influence – we now offer three simple steps to get to “what’s next” more quickly. We call this our Pivot Point Career Calculator based on these essential steps:
- Know your skills and wills (the things you are good at and the things you love)
- Find the intersection of the skills and wills to craft your ideal job description
- Map your resume to your ideal job description
Know your skills and wills
This is pivotal. The first step is self-discovery. This means creating a lengthy, detailed inventory of everything that you do well and everything that you are passionate about. Get a white board, journal, or computer and write or type until your fingers and brain hurt.
We often discount or second guess these critical details about ourselves. As key with any brainstorm, every idea is a good idea. Reflect using these questions:
- What are the tasks/goals that get you most excited? (will)
- What are the tasks/goals that you are doing on your very best days? (will)
- What are the tasks/goals that people continuously praise you for? (skill)
- What are the tasks/goals that you seem to be most effective at? (skill)
With at least 10 bullet points for both skill and will, begin prioritizing what flips your trigger from a will perspective, and what you feel most confident at doing from a skill perspective. Keep the list comprehensive, and be sure to ask for feedback from people that know you well and you respect.
Find the intersection of the skills and wills to craft your ideal job description
Picture your skills and wills like a venn diagram. Where the skills and wills overlap you will find your happy place. The intersection of your unique strengths and passions yield something very powerful – your purpose. Having done this exercise many times with women asking “what’s next,” I find that no list is the same. Our skills and wills are unique to us. And, for us to be successful, our purpose must be aligned to them.
With this intersection of key skill and will attributes in hand, scour the internet – Indeed, LinkedIn, Glass Door, etc. – to find job descriptions that list these attributes in their job roles and responsibilities lists. Copy the bullet points that most align with your attributes and make your own ideal job description. One pitfall to watch out for here is to avoid judging merely by the job title, industry, or functional area. I rarely find that these matter nearly as much as the actual job role description and the daily tasks you are responsible for.
Sometimes we fall into the trap of saying, “I have never done this job before.”
To which I respond, “Of course you haven’t. That’s why you are looking for a new job. You are not happy doing what you are doing, or what you have done already.”
Focusing on the ideal job description bullet points and borrowing them to create your own dream job keeps those dangerous assumptions at bay. Ask yourself, on a perfect day, what am I doing? Be sure to include key job tasks, duties, roles, competencies, and responsibilities.
Once your ideal job description is ready, find as many job descriptions that most closely align with your ideal one. Begin tracking and tallying the titles. Prioritize your top job titles or areas to narrow your search.
Map your resume to your ideal job description
Once you have your ideal job description, key areas and titles of alignment to your skill and will attributes, the final step is to tweak your resume to meet these needs. Your goal in this exercise is to put your recruiter hat on and make it as clear as possible for them to see you as a no brainer for this role. Dig through your experiences, success stories, results from past roles, and focus on what is similar. These are often called transferable skills. You likely have not done this exact job role before, so what have done in the past that make you a fit for this role in the future. Park the fears of “I am not good enough,” or “there are so many more qualified people to do this.” Own it. Ask for it. Channel what you bring to the table that no one else does.
A wise woman leader I know often shares, “I have never taken a job that I already knew how to do.” Remember that. Just because you have not done it before, does not mean that you cannot learn how or do it better one day than anyone else. How else do we get better than to challenge ourselves to take risks and get outside our comfort zones? Of course you have not done it before, that’s why you’re asking what’s next in the first place. If you had done it before, it would be easy to know what you wanted to do.
A fantastic read, Now What, offers a powerful exercise in addition to what I have shared. In it, fellow coach, Laura-Berman-Fortgang, explains how documenting your own personal history can illuminate possibilities for future success. Upon reading your documented personal history, people often find key areas: golden threads, interrupted dreams, and driving motivators. By reviewing your personal history bullet points, it’s easier to uncover clues to tap into themes for future personal and professional growth.
If you enjoyed this blog, please register for our complimentary online workshop “The Career Calculator to Land Your Dream Job” February 2 @ 11am ET. We’ll elaborate on this proven process, practice the tools and techniques, and share stories of women that have successfully utilized this process to land in their dream jobs.
What’s next for you?