This week’s blog post is written by Chaloner’s Alanna Miller, who joined the NY Chaloner office this summer. Alanna has an extensive marketing background and a deep commitment to creating a seamless experience for her clients and candidates. She moved into executive search in 2013 to build out the marketing and communications practice of a rapidly-growing contingent firm, with a focus on professional and financial services clients. Alanna is also the author of Stuff Every Woman Should Know (2010, Quirk Books), a pocket-sized reference book for women of all ages.
Last week I wrote about this being a great time of year to focus on the research and planning part of your job search. I often field questions about that process, as developing a successful strategy for a job search is usually the hardest part. It’s easy to get discouraged, but this week I want to speak to some of the recurring concerns and fears that I hear about job searches and careers at large.
I’ve never had a job that I’m excited about. What’s wrong with me?
If you find that you tend to fall into jobs rather than selecting and going after opportunities that genuinely excite you, it’s time to be honest with yourself: what do you really want to be doing? It’s possible that you’ve never truly thought about it. But don’t worry! Nothing’s wrong with you if you’ve never had a career-based epiphany. Long dark winter evenings are a great time for reflection, so lean into that. Don’t dwell on anything you wish you’d done differently, just ask yourself: how can I draw on my past experiences to shape a plan for the future?
I don’t know what jobs to look for, and I’m overwhelmed. Where should I start?
Being open-minded is great; being so open that you overwhelm yourself with options is not. If you have a background in specific industries, consider starting there. If the industry isn’t important to you but a particular company philosophy or culture enables you to do your best work, find companies that offer it. You don’t have to get hyper specific about your dream job, just be thoughtful about broader qualities that will help you narrow down your search. That way you can be focused without worrying about missing out.
I don’t feel right for any jobs I see. Should I just wait until something better pops up?
As you’re looking at companies that are hiring, don’t worry about fitting yourself into bullets on a job description. At this stage, ignore job descriptions entirely and think broadly about your qualities, strengths, preferences, and skills. It’s easy to be mentally boxed in by your current job and think of your abilities solely in the context of what you do on a daily basis, but there’s much more there. Don’t forget to think about company culture as well! For example, if you work in a large office as an individual contributor but yearn to spend your day with a small group of committed and collaborative people, that’s an important factor to keep in mind.
Ultimately, you have as much or as little flexibility as you want in your search for a new job. Whether you’re casting a wide net or pursuing your specific dream job, keep focused and your hard work will pay off!
Chaloner, founded in 1979 as Chaloner Associates, is a national executive search firm that focuses on recruiting mid- to senior-level communications, public relations, marketing and investor relations professionals.