6.0   Finding A Place Where You Can Thrive

It starts with self-assessment (again)

Figuring out where you want to work is a complex task and involves answering a variety of questions about what you need to thrive. We are going to make this really big question manageable by breaking it down into a series of questions you will find easy to answer.

A career is a very large part of a person's identity. The inability to identify a course in life, the loss of a job, or underemployment reeks havoc on a person's self esteem. That is why it is so imperative that you find something that you love. This book makes the whole process manageable. It breaks the process into small manageable components.

Every serious job seeker must start the career planning process by focusing on two basic questions:
What do you want to do?
Where do you want to do it?

The “what” question is the biggie which is why it came first. It requires that you understand what moves and motivates you, or what interests you. Your interests serve to define your career personality style, which is important to understand if you are going to find a fulfilling position.

You also need to understand what skills you have and how you can apply your most motivated skills to achieve career satisfaction and success. An assessment of your skills will not just provide you with an appreciation of what jobs you might qualify for. It is also the starting point for selling yourself to prospective employers. They will want to know, "what can you do for me?" and you will need to be prepared to tell them when you start building your resume. If you have not already done a good skills assessment, go to chapter 5 and work on it.

The “where” question requires that you be able describe the basic elements you need to thrive in your career. The “where” question is actually six questions that must be answered as you define who you are and what you need to thrive in your life.

  1. What are your interests and what do you have that you want to use in your job? This defines the industry you will focus on.
  2. What are your goals and values?
  3. Where would you be happiest living?
  4. What are the qualities of the people you thrive around?
  5. What are the things you need to thrive in your work environment?
  6. What should your salary and benefit expectations include?

The answers to these questions will help you establish the criteria by which you will judge who you will allow to employ you. They are also the questions that employers are going to be concerned with when they decide whether or not to offer you a job. Employers want you to fit in with their organization- that you are committed to being there. They are going to grill you to make sure you know what you want and that there is a good person job fit before they invest any time or money in you. Companies spend upwards of $100,000 hiring and training each new employee before they become fully productive. That explains their motivation for knowing that you really want to be there. Just saying it doesn't make it so... You have to answer the tough questions effectively to convince them to hire you. Hiring mistakes are costly. That is why doing a thorough self assessment is so critical to your success not only in finding the right employer but also in convincing them to hire you.

I have worked with numerous people who have struggled with the job search on their own, not understanding this. Unraveling the mystery of why they have not been able to find a job becomes easy once I find out that they do not have a full understanding of their interests, knowledge areas, goals, etc. A candidate cannot sell themselves effectively to an employer if they do not fully understand their own motivations.

In the next three chapters, you will be identifying your skills and interests, exploring your fund of knowledge, and examining your goals, values, and life/work preferences. These are pieces of a puzzle that when put together form the perfect picture of your ideal place to work. Every piece of the puzzle is important! Each piece of the larger question helps you focus on identifying where you want to work- where you would thrive. You will identify what industries interest you and what organizations within a particular industry will be most enjoyable for you.

  • Your Interests
  • Your Knowledge
  • Your Goals
  • Your Work Values and Priorities
  • Your Life Style Preferences

These are the criteria by which you will judge who you will allow to employ you. Once you have worked through each of these criteria, by doing the exercises, you will be able to identify the industry you should be targeting and within that industry, the organizations where you would be most likely to thrive.

First, lets define the criteria. Think of yourself as Sherlock Homes of your career search. You are looking for clues that will help you piece things together.

Identifying Your Interest Areas

When you think about where you would like to work, most people try come up with the name of a specific company. What we want to do here is focus on an industry and then come up with the key players (companies) that are in your field of interest. This exercise helps you focus on interests that you have that you might not ordinarily have thought about as having job possibilities. The interest identification exercise is designed to get you to think about using your education and skills in an industry where you would love to be involved.

Inventorying and Identifying Your Key Knowledge Areas

You have learned a lot by the time you graduate from college. If you are using this book as you enter the labor market for the first time you are going to need to focus on the knowledge you want to apply. The knowledge you have a burning desire to use.

If you are making a career move in your current field, you will be focusing on not only what you learned in college or graduate school, but you will want to focus on expertise you have refined through years of experience.

If you are a making a career change you will be focusing on new ways to maximize on your areas of interest.

We learn things in many different ways. Education, training, self learning, hobbies all give you exposure to knowledge that can give you direction. The task at hand is to identify the things that you like, that have a future and that will point you in a direction.

This exercise will allow you to inventory your knowledge areas and identify those that you are interested in using in your career. Some of what you have learned will form a foundation for your career, while some of your expertise will be directly applied. Identifying the knowledge you wish to directly apply allows you to identify the industry where you will seek employment.

Setting Your Goals and Priorities

This exercise helps you focus on your most important goals in life and develop a plan to accomplish your goals by breaking them down into manageable tasks and activities just like you would for any major project.

Identifying Your Work Values and Your Work Priorities

This exercise helps you identify what you need your job to provide in order for you to thrive in your career, such as creativity or money. It helps you rate job satisfaction factors based on your priorities.

Identifying Your Ideal Life/ Work Environment

This exercise is designed to decide what lifestyle factors are most important to you. It will sort out external factors that will make or break your career or living experience. You will be guided through the process of identifying your preferred geographic locations and working conditions, and the people qualities you are most likely to thrive around.