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Job Search Tips – New Clothes Principle

Experimenting and trying out new things in your life is very important.  Probably the first thing that comes to mind is what you might have done as a child or teenager with various “no no’s”and  rules from your parents.  This is not the type of experimenting we are talking about but it does uncover a natural tendency you should have to explore your options in life.  Exploring options and experimenting with exploring your talents is one of the secret ingredients to a fantastic career.  A fantastic career has ups and downs, high and lows, excitement, mystery, intrigue and calculations.  An easy way to compare this idea is to use a principle called “The New Clothes Principle”.  So when you go to buy new clothes what do you do?  You physically go into a store, find your specific department, find your size (or the general area), try on the clothes to see if they fit, look in the mirror, decide if you like how you look AND FEEL, and then make a buying decision.  Sometimes you might fuss about the price or how it feels where other times you love it when you see it.  Do you shop at stores you cannot afford?  Some people go to thrift stores while others would not entertain the thought.

In using this shopping experience as a way to uncover the right career for you, look at a few elements:

–         You have to physically go in

–         You have to find your department

–         You have to find your size

–         You try it on

–         You decide if it “fits you”

–         You think about how you feel

–         You decide if it is right for you

So why do you buy new clothes?  Are your old ones worn out?  Do you hold on to your worn out clothes because you have had them for so long?  So the new clothes principle simply stated is:  Get Rid Of The Old And Bring In The New.  In order to do that with your career you need to try on a new job function, see if it fits, see how you feel doing it, look in the mirror and make a decision if you want to continue doing it.

This comparison to clothes, can really help put your mind at ease during your career when you think you are either spinning your wheels or not sure where you are going.  You are probably knee-deep in this experimental state of trying on a new job to see if it fits.  When it doesn’t, you have to make a decision to move on and find another job.  Trying on new jobs often in your career can do two things:

1. It can help you find new options for your skills and your experience.

2. It can help you decide if you truly like what you are doing but maybe you are at the wrong place.

Sometimes the job you are doing is perfect for you but your situation (boss, company, hours, pay, etc) is not.  Finding a new situation doing what you enjoy doing is easy.  Finding a new career
because the one you are in now has gotten worn out, that is a little more challenging and takes more time.

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Job Search Strategy

Putting together a good job search strategy can be tough.  It is tough because sometimes you find yourself not knowing what you want to do when you grow up.  Let’s break a job search strategy into a few simple questions to ask yourself.  Organize your short and long terms goals with the following terms:

Who – who are you trying to be at this point in your life?  It shouldn’t take a lot of time to figure this out or you might not exactly know and willing to wait and see.  Make a decision on one or two directions you want to go in and then start going in that direction.  You can make changes along the way if you want.

What – what are you doing now that will help you with your future plans?  What should you do to train yourself for what is to come?  Always make sure the job you are doing is either the perfect job or one that is training you in one direction.  Losing the focus on your job search strategy can easily get hung up on this one.

When – when do you want to hit your goal?  Putting timelines on yourself can help drive you to succeed.  You can succeed twice as fast as you think you can if you put your mind to it.  Put aggressive timelines down; but not too aggressive where you get frustrated.

Why – why did you make the career choices you did? Were they for money, location or to follow a dream?  This is the time to analyze what you did in your past so you don’t do it in your future. Don’t let others make your decisions.  Make them yourself.  Looking back will help you move forward.

How – how are you going to get to where you want to go?  Put a simple (or complex) plan together with short-term goals which help the long-term plan.  This is the task list that will help keep you on the path you are going down.  Keep the short-term goals very short.  Succeed at this with some ease then it will help your confidence.

Don’t get caught over-analyzing your situation and future.  Take a little time to think about each of these and write them down in a new book or journal.  Post it on your wall or bathroom mirror so you can refer back to it daily to keep you on task.  You might want to change them along the way…no sweat.  Planning takes time but sticking to a plan takes determination.  Help your efforts by planning.

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Career Training Program

Who are You?  What do you want to be when You grow up?  This never-ending question can be tough to answer the same way all the time.  It may change up or down, forwards or backwards depending on what you are doing and what stage of life you are in.  Past decisions can greatly impact your future.  Every decision you make at every stage is important and requires careful thought. Every working person has a goal in mind.  Maybe the goal is money.  Maybe the goal is being in charge.  Maybe the goal is more about finding your place in the world.  Your goals might encompass all the above and more.  Whatever they are they should be broken into two categories:

1. Short term goals – immediate need.

2. Long term goals – direction you are going.

Let’s start with the long-term goals because they are many times where your heart is guiding you.  Using words like dream or mission helps to describe these best.  These goals are where you are heading; your “destination”.  Your destination can change course and often it might.  But if it does, then you have to rethink your short-term goals to make sure they are keeping you on the path towards your destination.  Many people decide to take a job in the short-term without ever thinking about their long-term goals.  Then when the new job doesn’t pan out as well as they wanted, they either adjust their long-term goals or go off job searching again.

Short term goals are much more immediate and where the pain is.  If you have lost your job then you understand your need to provide an income as soon as possible.  Most people don’t have financial back up plans which is a mistake.  Short term hiccups happen all the time and everyone should have an emergency plan to address them.  If you don’t plan for an emergency, you derail your long-term efforts tremendously.  The purse strings will bind you and having a financial plan in place with cut them and give you room to breathe when a downturn happens; it will happen.  Debt free is the way to go and this is the best place to go:

Decisions on what to do in the short-term should never be made when you are feeling lots of pressure or fear.  A temporary job to fill a gap for financial reasons is sometimes required.  Just remember this temporary job is just temporary and you will get back on your path.  You will have to work extra hard to find what you are looking for and you will.

Short-term job goals should be in line with your long-term plan.  For instance, if someday you want to own your own business such as a bakery, you need to think about what skills or experience you need to get that bakery off the ground.  Let’s run through short-term plan for a long-term goal of opening up a bakery.  Remember not all things run this smoothly but it is an example of how to use short-term jobs to help you achieve your long-term goal.

Amy wants to open a bakery in the next three to five years.  She is a go-getter and loves to bake.  She has never had a retail outlet or had to sell her products or services so she is not sure if she is equipped to handle the entire bakery business.  She is thinking she wants to start out with one bakery and then if things go well she will open multiple store and hire people to do the work she doesn’t want to.

She is in her thirties and has had a few good jobs throughout her career so far.  She started out as an administrative person, moved to customer support and eventually started managing a group of creative people at a design house.  Her love is still baking and she wants to start working towards her own bakery. She has decided this after talking with her best friend’s mother who is a great encouragement to her.  Her first task is to write down the top two or three things she thinks she needs to learn more about in order to be successful with running a bakery.  She figures she needs help with the accounting part of a business (finances), a good idea of what it is like running a bakery (operations) and some experience understanding the challenges of marketing a product to consumers (marketing/sales).

Her current job managing the creative team at the design house has helped her understand how putting together great marketing pieces can be effective.  What she hasn’t worked on was how businesses sell to consumers.  She cannot probably use her current situation to help get that experience.  She likes her job but doesn’t want to be there forever.  Her job has a little flexibility and she asks if she can come in late a few days a week so she can take a few accounting classes in the morning.  Her boss says no so she decides to take the classes at night.

While she is taking the accounting classes, she has also decided to try to find a bakery or a similar operation she could work at on the weekends to gain some experience within a small retail store.  She finds a local flower shop that needs some help on Saturdays and Sundays.  It is not a bakery but it should help her better understand both operations and sales.

Amy is going to be busy for the next six months or a year but the experience and training she will receive will be priceless.  She will start her training to be a successful bakery shop owner.  Maybe this
experience will solidify her desire to own a bakery or maybe her long-term goal will change.  We don’t know until we try new things out if we are going to like them or not.  Everyone is in a job, training for something.  Is your job training your for what you want or what other people need?

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Career Creep

Career creep is tough to see sometimes until it is too late.  What career creep is has more to do with how you look at your overall career.  There are a couple different ideas or philosophies out there regarding your career.  One is that you should “plan out” your career from start to finish.  No matter what age or experience level in your life, you should take what you current know about yourself and make a plan for your career; defining each step along the way.  Most of these plans do allow for some “wiggle room” where you might stray off in a new direction if it helps you reach your long-term goal.  Another idea is you should not plan out your career and just let the chips fall where they may.  This approach allows a lot of flexibility in your career.  You may work in a certain profession for a period of time and then change it all together during another.  There is no real long-term goal but just a number of short-term ones along the way.

No matter which philosophy you subscribe to what can happen is your career can creep in a direction you don’t mean for it to go.  Life has a way of throwing a lot of emotional and physical challenges at you which can beat you down.  These challenges can help you forget what you are trying to accomplish in the short or long-term.  Career creep happens when you forget to keep the big picture in check.  You might start doing a job that you could enjoy but the company you are working for takes a turn you were not expecting.  Your responsibilities change and you let your person desires change with it.  Sometimes you justify this slight change in direction as you need to do it for the time being.  Then it becomes another month and another month.  Eventually it becomes year after year.  This creeping of your career in a direction that is not what you want can undermine you personally and professionally.

One remedy for career creep is to find a time yearly (on your birthday or New Year’s Day) and take inventory of what direction your career is going in.  Review what you were hoping to do during the previous year and think about what direction you are going in for the next.  This type of review will help you minimize the negative aspects of career creep.

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