by Karen Okulicz, author of “Try! A Survival Guide to Unemployment“
Many people look to make changes in their career the same way they pick up the beach chairs and towels and get ready for the fall. They begin to start anew with a fresh attitude towards their job search whether it is for a change of work or to ramp up a current, stagnant search from unemployed to employed.
If you answer five key questions, you can set yourself straight, make sure you avoid wasting time and put you on the path to creating the best opportunity of work to your liking.
The Five W’s are:
1. “WHERE” do you want to work?
Easy question. Answer YES and NO. Why are you reaching out to companies with long commutes into the city, if you don’t want to work in the city? Why are you sending resumes to locations and companies that don’t interest you, are too far away, or meet your personal needs. Why are you spending time this way at all? Answer the question and stick to your guns.
Every age in life has different responsibilities. If you are single and have no kids, then maybe the job on the road would be great for a year or so. But if you are married with kids and want to see them and your spouse every day, then you need to adjust your “Where” to fit. Right now offers the greatest job market for employment flexibility. You just have to decide to make it work for you. Answer the question “Where” so that you identify what is best for your personal needs.
Then ask yourself some more questions to get a closer fit. How will you get to this place, (e.g., by car, bus, train, walk, bike)? What will be wearing when you get there? What time will your get there? Do you want to work days, nights, or swing? These are the details you need to really know for each Where you consider. So, when at an interview and you are told you have to work late or weekends and this doesn’t fit for you. You might want to think about the work offered.
2. “WHO” do you want to work with?
No kidding, but you really do have a choice. Who will you be working with at every new place of work you consider? Maybe you would like be on a team or will enjoy liked minded people. Maybe you prefer large organizational structure? On the other hand, maybe you work best alone, out in the field with very little interaction or minute-by-minute supervision? Do you work with the same people every day or will you have mix of contacts?
You know what you like. You have to ASK these detail questions and get the answers so that you can make a good decision, know exactly what you are getting yourself in to, and are not surprised and chagrined by who you end up spending most of your time with each day. Got it?
3. “WHEN” do you want to be WHERE and with WHO?
The answer is NOW. Get up. Get Moving. Make the call. Go visit. Go to where you want to be. See for yourself. Volunteer for a day and see if that “dream work” will suit you. Spend some real time observing and studying what the new workplace actually looks like, what you will be wearing and who you will be working for and who you get to work with. You must acquire real knowledge and data so you can visualize and create a complete picture which enables you to make a good decision that it really does fit your needs.
Whatever you are doing right now, at this very moment will determine and create the future success. Every moment is a crucial step in the process of getting from where you are, dead-stop unemployed or out of a dull job, to something better, more fulfilling, more flexible and more rewarding.
Do something NOW. Get the Answers NOW.
4. “WHY” do you want to work?
The answer to this question determines the outcome of your search. Is it for the fame and glory? Do you need to get something part time until your “Great American Novel” is picked up by a mainstream publisher? Do you need to work full time until the kids graduate from college? Do you need to work for the money and health benefits only? Are you just trying to get out of the house and be a part of the world? Are you looking to save the world? What’s in it for you?
5. “WHAT” do you want to be?
There are basically three different work choices that can lead you choose to the perfect WHAT.
a. A Job: Give time, energy and muscle for money. It is something that you get to pay the bills. A job you take until you finish, school, apprenticeship or whatever. It helps you cover expenses. It may be mentally or physically demanding, but its rewards are financial only. It is ‘doin’ what you gotta do’ to just get through.
b. A Career: You go to school for training and acquire skills, knowledge, expertise, perhaps a specialty or a trade. You may find yourself in a career because you felt you may like it or it was suggested to you. It may be challenging for you, but you think there could always be a better way to go. You may like your career and are comfortable with the choice, but then be glad to retire someday.
c. A Life’s Work: Ah! The pinnacle of all employment! You get to do something you love. You get to choose where, what and with who. You get to have passion for the things you do. You get to love what you do and lose yourself in this work totally. A career maybe a life’s work but, a job will never become one.
Remember working is NOT a life sentence. It is a choice.
All of us want to work in something that fits us and fulfills us.
If you are stuck, not sure what to do or what you want to be, ask yourself, “On your worst day of your work, what did you say to yourself on the way home?”
The answer to this question gives you the primary clues to what you should be looking to adjust for the better.
Did you say:
“I have to get out of here. I can’t take this place any more.”
“I can’t work with these people any longer?”
“I want a break from this schedule, this commute, this routine?”
“I want a break from these commitments.”
“I want to make my kids’ baseball games, soccer practice, ballet class.”
“I want to make my favorite yoga class, knitting circle, take a walk?”
“I want time for ……..
“I want to delete…..
“I need a break from…..
Now fill in the blanks!
“I would love to find……
…. a closer commute
……more interesting projects
….. better salary
“I need to learn…..
“I should look into……
Pay attention. It is always on our worst days that we get the best clarity out of what bothers us. Issues can be dormant and hidden for long periods of time. On the worst day, what needs to change comes right to the surface. So pay attention.
Now you begin to realize what is really not right for you. Now you get to focus on where you are right now and what needs to be adjusted.
This doesn’t mean you go into work the next day and quit. That only happens in the movies or with big time lottery winners.
This knowledge must give you is a new direction. This is the start of the new path to build something better. What do you do?
Answer the five questions. Write the answers down. The act of doing so will create physical movement that helps you move forward. You want to use the new feelings and discoveries help you change the current situation. Write it down.
You are gathering clues to what is next. What direction are you to take?
Probing for the answers is next. Whether you are unhappily employed, or under-employed, or unemployed, you must focus on the answers. Take pause. Let the questions rest. Take care of yourself. Spend some time on your favorite hobby. Don’t use food, or alcohol to cloud over your thoughts. Think clearly and focus.
The answers to some of these questions may lead you to feeling uncomfortable. You may realize that you will have to leave your comfort zone or leave people you carte about. You might not be able to go back to something you once loved doing. It may also be true that times have changed and the industry you knew and loved is gone.
Change is a challenge. But sometimes, it’s just time to go.
The Five W’s give you the best clues to the best approach for you.
This will save you time and unnecessary spent funds spinning your wheels in the wrong directions.
Get the answers, make the adjustments. It is simple and simplicity breeds success.