WHAT'S YOUR IDEAL CAREER PROFILE?
So many of us start our careers thinking that these fancy job titles sound amazing. But, more often than not, we don't stop to think if these jobs actually fit who we are as people or the lifestyle we truly want to live out.
Finding that ideal role at the perfect company that fits our core strengths and values isn't an easy task. Usually, the path to finding this ideal career isn't a straight line, and the end result also isn't something you get instantly.
Here at HTYC, we try and help guide you to a career that fits you in the straightest line possible. The only thing we ask of you is for you to understand that:
- It is going to take a little digging into yourself to find this ideal career
- How much you put into the thought process (that we layout for you), will likely effect the results you get in your “job search”
- This process isn't magic and it will not produce immediate results
- Your genuine participation is necessary
Listen to the podcast as Scott outlines the steps you need to take to do the whole career change/job search process differently to achieve that happy, healthy work-life integration that people talk about enjoying so much.
Also, check out the list below for the step-by-step process that will show you how you can find that career that fits your everyday-life needs.
STEP ONE – Identifying Your Ideal Career
Look at the bigger picture of your life and career goals.
It's not all about shooting in the dark when it comes to your career. This is something that takes sincere thought and effort to determine what it is that you want to do, not necessarily for the rest of your life, but for a pretty decent chunk of time.
This is the part a lot of us miss when we start our career. All it takes to help identify your ideal career is asking yourself these basic questions:
- Is the work you want to do something that goes against your strengths or is it something that goes against the grains of your strengths?
- Does the work meet your basic needs?
- A long commute, especially if it’s over an hour by bus
- Very long hours
- Pay you feel is unfair
- Job insecurity
- Is the work engaging for you?
- Clear tasks, with a clearly defined start and end
- Variety in the types of tasks
- Feedback, so you know how well you’re doing
- Do you work with people that are supportive of you?
- Does that job/role fit with what you value with the rest of your life?
STEP TWO – Identifying Organizations that Fit Your Ideal Career Profile
Start with what you know and develop your hypothesis.
For example, if you know in your ideal career profile that you want to travel while you work and one of the things that you value is having people trust you to get the work done, that means that the type of organization that you are looking to connect with is one that needs to run in a way that empowers its people.
If this is what you know you are looking for, the next step is to begin researching these types of organizations that offer remote job positions or appreciate a distributed workforce, essentially a team that works remotely from different locations, instead of in one physical office location.
You can start your search on google with “flexible work job sites,” and start your job search with what pops up – this time it happens to be FlexJobs.com.
- Begin to find and identify those organizations that meet your ideal career choice needs.
- Make a list of companies that align with other pieces of your ideal career profile
This is what we like to call forming a hypothesis, since you are guessing that these are the organizations that you want to end up working for, but you're really basing that off of an assumption. You don't know if this list of companies actually/factually align with your ideal career from STEP ONE.
Big struggle for people. understand where to search and how to translate what they want into what organizations may offer that.
BUT! THERE'S A BONUS!
Once you are able to think critically about what you want and how you're going to get want you want, this transfers to other areas of your life. Being able to understand and devise a way to be able to go after what it is that is important to you in a way that is feasible and tangible to you is a GREAT critical thinking skill to have!
CCB Live 90-min Mini-Course
STEP THREE – Reach Out to the Organizations that Fit Your Ideal Career Profile
Once your have the list, begin to “test your theory”
Do you know what the difference between a traditional informational interview and our “Test Drive” method of reaching out to a potential employer is?
For one, people usually try to sell themselves to an organization/potential manager in an informational interview.
With our method of interviewing, the test drive method, the difference is that you are NOT there to get a job.
Why you ask?
Well, you don't know if you want to work for that organization yet, remember? You are trying to find out all of the information to see if this role and the organization actually fit the career profile you made in STEP ONE.
Don't forget that you are asking for a meeting to learn more about the organization and the people in it. You want to show sincere appreciation and a want to gain knowledge and insight about the specific role you are looking for and at that organization.
If you come off as someone that is just asking for a job, it starts to feel like bad sales. You'll come off as pushy and it will feel inorganic. If you are genuinely curious and want advice on the job on the organization or the type of work, you'll form more of a relationship and you'll find that people are will to help those that are truly interested in learning more.
Here's an example of Felix Oberholzer-Gee. He began to ponder this issue as he was, of course, waiting in line at the airport. Later, he decided to conduct a field experiment to explore the question. He and a team of experimenters equipped with small bills approached 500 people in lines and offered a cash payment of up to $10 to cut in.
Would the bribe be accepted? How much would it take to jump the queue? And how would social norms and a sense of fairness play out along the line?
As expected, the higher the amount of payment offered, the more likely individuals were to allow a stranger to cut ahead of them.
The surprise? The line-holders allowed the person to cut in and most wouldn't accept the money in return.
Oberholzer-Gee took this to mean that people will allow cuts if they perceive the queue jumper has a real need to save time, though most people felt it inappropriate to cash in on that need.
For line-holders, a higher bribe meant the jumper was more desperate – REAL need to save that time…legitimately want to help someone.
One last thing, as you continue your test on your hypothesis, you'll notice that you've begun to form new relationships with people that are in the field and organization you envision yourself in (by default – if you follow all of these steps correctly).
If you find that this is a person, organization or type of problems that you solve that you’re interested in continuing with, you now have the ability to:
- Ask for introductions to other people to continue exploring
- Ask for introductions or advice on how to get employed by the company
- Seek their continued guidance in the form of a mentorship
Be sure to keep you new connections informed of your career goals and status of employment.
Foster those relationships. You'll want to stay fresh and relevant in their mind.
So, when an opportunity that sounds like the perfect fit for you, you'll be the first person they'll call and recommend!
Transcript from Episode
Scott Barlow: Today we have a bit of a different episode. I don’t have a guest today because I have something incredibly important to talk about. It is by far one of the most requested pieces of information that we get emailed about all the time. I wanted to put together a “how to” guide for what you can do to actually go step-by-step to find a job, and particularly a career that you love and are excited about. So that at least most days you can’t wait to get up in the morning to go do that thing. It happens differently than most everyone thinks.
We have produced close to 200 episodes, in around 4 years, which blows me away. We wanted to be able to put this episode together that takes you through the overview of the process. We also dive in with examples and how to do each piece.
Here’s what I mean and what we will cover:
Step 1: Identifying your ideal career and giving you a ton of resources on how to do that. We have devoted separate podcasts and training for this piece to really identify what fits you. We will start with that.
Step 2: How to use that to identify organizations that you think might fit what you want for a career.
Step 3: How to reach out to companies that would be a good fit based on what you learned in steps 1 and 2.
That is what we are covering today. It is the single biggest thing we have requests about as people learn more about how to make these incredibly difficult career changes. Often when people come to us they don’t say, “I am an HR generalist and I want to be a manager.” We don’t get that request. Mostly it’s more like an accountant saying “I’m trying to figure out what I really want to do. I think maybe it’s a museum curator but I’m not really sure. I want to learn what I should be doing and then how to do it.” Those are the types of incredibly difficult requests we get.
The first biggest part is identifying what they want to do.
To start let’s begin with why people should do this differently. That is our theme. There are many studies to support that the average person isn’t excited about their current role or situation. You can make a case that most of us don’t know how to enjoy the journey and that is the cause of unhappiness, but I think it is a lot bigger than a lack of mindfulness skills. Instead, it is often a misalignment with what you value, what is important to you, and what you are great at or can be great at – Your signature strengths. There are also a few other pieces.
That is where we start. To get rid of the misalignment you have to do things differently than the average person to be able to make a change. I know that is obvious.
Let’s talk about what that is and what it can look like.
Step one is identifying your ideal career. People first come to us asking “how do I identify my ideal job or career path?” That is the wrong question. We have entire podcasts on this. We put together a training, 8 or 9 episodes, on this topic. Go to figureitout.co and we have a mini course there. Another more extensive place for information is in iTunes or anywhere you can search podcasts. Search “what fits you.” You will find a podcast intended to be listened to from the beginning straight through. It’s an audio course format. Use that as a resource. It is an entire training on how to identify the ideal career. It isn’t how you think about it. When identifying the ideal career we perceive it to be finding an ideal situation for you and identifying that situation, not an ideal job or title. Not I want to be an HR manager or in medical, or whatever else, because when you identify it that way it is incomplete and missing important variables that make you happy within your career and the time you spend at work. We spend so much time there and we fail to see the other pieces and try to assign it to one thing. The reality is it isn’t just one thing.
Let’s discuss what it actually is. There are some basics for everyone to have an ideal view of your career or picture of what your next career step could and should look like to have a higher chance to make sure it is fulfilling. Here are basics that have a number of studies to support them:
- Is the work something that goes against your strengths or does it work with your strengths? These are things you are good at and have a tendency to gravitate to. Not really your passions, like enjoying eating spaghetti. A passion doesn’t mean it is something that should be a career, but is it something that works with your strengths versus against them?
We’ve got an entire podcast to help you understand that. We have tools on our site like Strengthsfinder 2.0. Go to happentoyourcareer.com/strengthsfinder. That will help you quantify and identify your strengths. That is just the start, then you get into your signature strengths – those things that you are both great at and have a tendency to enjoy. It’s not necessarily activities, but a mix of personality and the way you are wired. Things you happen to be good at, predispositions, etc. The important part is thing one.
- Is the work engaging for you? This is a variable that differs slightly for everybody. Some of the most important things are whether you have clarity on what the work is.
- Is there a defined start and end? I’ve heard that over and over as an HR manager. People don’t understand where work starts and ends. It was ambiguous and they couldn’t relate and it wasn’t engaging.
- Is there variety in the task? If there isn’t you aren’t stimulated and you get bored.
- Do you have the ability or freedom to make the decision on how you are doing the work? That is the opposite of micro-management.
- The other piece is are you getting some type of feedback so you know how well you are doing. If you don’t have those things it is highly likely the work won’t be engaging.
- Another piece is do you work with people like your boss that you feel are good, supportive, and there for you? The same is true for the other people you work with. A number of studies show that your boss is one of the most important pieces that shows up pretty high as being a big deal about whether you are excited about your job. Your colleagues play into this as well. Are they creating a supportive environment?
- The other piece that is a big deal is if you are working incredibly long hours. If you don’t feel like you are getting paid fairly or treated fairly that is also a big deal or if you feel like there is a ton of time that is a waste. For example, I used to commute for two hours and I felt like that was time that was a waste in my life. It made the job, regardless of the actual job, a bad deal for me.
- The last, but possibly most important, is does that job/role fit with what you value in the rest of your life? Both if the job isn’t going against your values and if it allows you to do other things important in your life.
Those are the five biggest things that we see again and again. They are all part of whether or not a career actually fits you. If you are only looking at any one of these pieces or just asking a question like “is HR right for me or operations management, or research” you are missing the point. Instead we want you to look at the larger picture. That is why when we sit down and help people put together an ideal career profile we incorporate all of these pieces. Without them you are shooting in the dark sometimes.
You want to have all of those pieces. Let’s say you’ve gone to the trouble to take what you know about yourself, what is important to you, what environment is great with you, what you value, etc. You know your needs and strengths. (We are skipping over a whole bunch of work.) After you have all of that we create an ideal career profile and what it could look like minus the job title, because job titles are different in different organizations, and it’s missing the point.
We take that ideal career profile and we go to step 2, identifying organizations that might fit this. Think of this like when you were in fourth grade science learning about a hypothesis and testing it. In the next steps you are going to create a hypothesis for yourself and test your theory. Step 2 is all about identifying organizations. People get caught up in this and how to do it.
“How do I begin identifying? I want to cut right to the correct one.”
It doesn’t work like that. Here is how to do it using the common steps. It is not a straight line path which can make it difficult. People want an instant result and you need to refrain from that. Instant results lead you to nowhere. Here’s the how.
Start with what you know. For example, if you know that within your ideal career profile that you want to travel while working and have people that value you to get the work done, then that means – and you have to think critically – you know you can’t always be at the office and the organization needs to run in a way that empowers its people.
You might start by researching organizations that offer remote work. Those types will have higher tolerance for you traveling while working and not require you sitting at a desk in a cubical for a particular time at a particular computer. They often have a higher degree of trust because of the distributive workforce, meaning the people are spread throughout, the globe, different cities, and areas. They are not all in the same office.
If that is the case, this means that I can google remote work job sites or flexible work job sites. I can take what I know and put it into google and it becomes another place to start. Then it pops up flexjobs.com or the muse.com and I can search remote work. I can get an idea of the companies that allow for that, condone that, or find it valuable. That is a really basic example. That is the process: starting with what you know, taking a section of your ideal career profile and drawing a conclusion for what you know, going piece by piece, and converting it over using critical thinking to find what organization will support it. Once I know that I can begin applying it and finding the organizations.
Let’s say I am interested in remote work and traveling. It’s very important to me, but it’s not to everyone. But if it is, then on flexjobs.com I can begin making a list of companies that align with other pieces of my ideal career profile. Those are my hypotheses. I don’t know for a fact that these companies are actually perfectly aligned with my ideal career profile. It’s not only okay, but part of the process, but people really struggle with this. We help people know where to search and translate it into organizations that may offer it. It comes up again and again. It’s not easy but we do it every day. Most people aren’t doing it frequently. The good news is once you get the hang of it it applies to other areas. Once you can think critically it translates into other areas of your life. Not just your career, but understanding and devising ways to go after what is important to you that is feasible.
Once you identify this initial list of companies you can begin testing your theory. One of my favorite ways to do this, because it works a lot, is reaching out to companies you think might fit. We call this the test drive method. You’ve heard of informational interviews, where you schedule an interview with the company, and often have coffee, you bring your resume and you ask a lot of questions. That is great and informational interviews are good, and I know a ton of people who have gotten jobs this way but I prefer a different method.
The test drive method is one of those. The biggest difference in the test drive method versus informational interviews is you aren’t there to get a job. You aren’t there to get a job. I say it a third time, because it’s shocking. You aren’t there to get a job.
For a variety of different reasons, mainly because you don’t know if you want to work for this organization you only have a hypothesis but you haven’t validated it yet. So why would you be there to get a job before you know whether it fits you, it’s what you want, and all the things we talked about, and if it fits the pieces of your ideal career profile. We aren’t looking for one hundred percent but at least eighty percent to see if we should continue.
You are instead there to find out more and learn about the people in the organization that can help you understand different roles. Your sole goal is to learn about them. As soon as they perceive that you are there to get a job then very often they have places for that. They send you to HR. They will say I can’t help you we aren’t hiring. If you are there for a job they will do what they already know how to do. They already have ways to handle that. Instead I want you there asking for their opinions. That is a different thing.
Their opinions, advice, stories, and information about the organization is something that can be provided. They may not have a way to handle that and it’s outside the social norms. That is one of many reasons it can be a more effective way to learn. If you are asking for a job it’s like asking for marriage on the first date. Let’s say you are on a first date, at the table and you put down your fork and say I’m feeling pretty good about this, what do you say we get married? How about that? At that point the date is probably over. If it’s not over, there won’t be a second. It would rarely ever lead to immediate marriage because you don’t know the person and they don’t know you. For the same reasons why would you do that if you are just getting to know an organization. If by some miracle you get an immediate job, which has happened, then it’s not going to be a good fit. Or at least you don’t know it will be.
Let me give an example of a different place where this same philosophy works. You may know this if you listen to our show. My coaches do help calls. We get on the phone and we try to figure out how we can help you. This is different than selling you something. Everyone has had a bad sales experience. Bad sales experiences make you feel pushed. They are inorganic, they don’t flow, and your alerts go off. It doesn’t feel right. Instead when we get on the phone with the intention to help people very often those people turn into customers of ours, but we aren’t there to sell them something. That is not our job, it is to help them. We know, and have the numbers to support it, that when we legitimately try to help people, often those people come back around and ask about other services. A huge percentage of people turn into customers and we see it again and again. It is the same way for when you contact organizations and test your hypothesis. The second you are there for a job, it feels like bad sales. It feels like you are asking for something that is misaligned, being pushy, etc. Instead if you are there to ask for their advice, learn more about them, and are genuinely curious you will learn more. And it’s hard to fake genuine curiosity. That is where it often turns into opportunities that other people won’t get. Very often when my coaches jump on the phone and we try to help people those people often end up buying from us. It’s the same thing. They end up buying from you because you are there showing genuine interest. People know this. You know genuine interest when you see it. You have a BS indicator. We all have that.
These are some of the biggest reasons why something like this is much more effective and the secret behind the secret is that you have to be genuine about it. You have to be going to learn. Legitimately going to them to test your theory. There are a variety of ways this can happen. You can go in and call someone there that has a job you think is interesting and say “I’m going to make a career change in the future and I am interested in your organization, then I found you on linked in and I’m interested in what you do. I’m wondering if you and I can schedule fifteen minutes where I can ask you questions about your job and company.” It can be that easy. That is just one method. We teach other scripts. That is one example to learn more about the person and organization.
Another reason it works, and an example of it, is Felix Oberholzer-Gee who did research at Harvard and was starting to think about a problem of waiting in line. He came up with this while waiting in line at the airport and decided to conduct an experiment on waiting in line, particularly to see if he approached people in line, offering, a cash payment would those people allow him to cut or take their place. He was curious if it would be accepted and how much it would cost. I was interested in this because I wanted to know how much social norms, and a sense of fairness, and people wanting to help would play into this. For them to take the abnormal action.
As you might expect, the more that they were offered the more likely people allowed it. The really surprising piece was that line holders allowed you to cut in line but most would not accept the cash. They would refuse it. They derived that people would allow cuts if they perceived the person needing to cut had a real need to save the time and a lot of people felt they couldn’t exploit that situation. They legitimately wanted to help.
This is the same reason that when you ask for help genuinely and they perceive it to be genuine and that it will help you, most people are willing to say yes. Part of that is a social norm. Part is that people feel good about helping others and also when you take a genuine interest in another person that is a gift. There are a variety of reasons why it works. That is all you are doing at the end of the day, asking for help and taking a genuine interest in someone else. As long as they perceive that, most people, over half between 50 and 70 percent, will say yes to helping you in some way. By either spending time or giving information, or offering to connect you, etc.
Once you get on the phone with someone and you have this conversation, have a list of questions you made in advance and you can ask those and have a conversation. It doesn’t have to be rapid fire, but just a conversation while they share about the organization or role or anything else you want to learn. After you do that the weird thing is you have begun a relationship with them. At that point you can do a lot of different things. Continue that relationship. I’ve had people turn into mentors. They can be an asset in understanding how to break into the organization or give you advice, or career help. Also, once you have the relationship you then have the ability to ask for introductions to other people to continue exploring. Maybe in other companies or you can ask for introductions on how to get employed in their company if you later find it is a company you want to continue to learn about and whether you want to work there. Those are several different ways and it only happens once you establish the relationship.
That is how a lot of this builds on each other. This doesn’t just apply to getting a job. The same types of psychology and approaches work in a lot of ways. We’ve shown a scientific study and our experiences. I’ve had a lot of experiences where I’ve found it to be true.
That is how this can work. It is kind of a different way than most people are thinking about it. This is something we’ve embedded in our programs, such as Career Change Boot Camp, and we teach our coaching clients, but I wanted you to understand how it can work. We have a variety of other scripts, tactics, and approaches and ways to do this in different situations.
Ultimately the biggest thing I want you to take away is I want you to go on the shortest path for your particular career change and what you want, which means you have to follow these three steps to some degree:
- Identify what you want and what is good for you, your ideal career profile;
- Figuring a hypothesis for what it can look like and the best way to get there (building relationships, identifying other ways in that are more effective)
- Go and test the hypothesis.
Hopefully that gives you an idea of how this can look. If you have questions don’t hesitate to contact us and let us know. This is what we love to do and we would be thrilled to help you in any way. We can get on the phone and offer help or you can send us an email and we will respond and connect you with our free stuff and programs. Do not hesitate. One of the saddest things is when people don’t take advantage of help that is right in front of them and experience a ton of pain because they don’t either want to ask or take the time, or perceive the help isn’t there. We are here to help in any way that makes sense.
This was a completely different episode, so let me know what you think. I’d be interested to hear and if you enjoyed the “how to” content we can do more like this. For anything we mentioned, the studies, links, or resources go to happentoyourcareer.com/168 and find all of those things including being able to subscribe to the podcast.