by Peter K. Studner, author of “Super Job Search IV: The Complete Manual for Job Seekers and Career Changers“
Are you a TGIF person? Do you slog unenthusiastically through the workweek, counting the days and hours until the weekend begins? If so, was it always this way? Or was there a time when you were excited about your career and (even if you’d never admit it now) looked forward to seeing what each new workweek brought?
If this sounds familiar, I have two questions for you: What happened? And would you like to recapture that TGIM spirit?
The truth is, all but a very fortunate few lose interest in their jobs at some point in time. When you find that all traces of TGIM have left your life, you have a choice: You can continue to dread the beginning of each new week (and risk total burnout), or you can take steps to figure out how to breathe new life into your career.
Here are some steps to help you TGIF-ers look forward to Mondays again:
First, pinpoint why you have lost interest in your job.
It’s possible that you feel gut-churning dread (or maybe just soul-crushing boredom) when you walk into the office, but you’ve never put thought into what’s causing those feelings. This is the first step you need to take, because the source of your discontent will determine what you do next. To help you get started, Studner shares a list of common reasons why people lose interest in their jobs:
- My job became boring; it was the same old routine over and over.
- I am underemployed. I needed this job during the recession, but now that the job market is beginning to grow, well…
- The commute has become unbearable.
- My boss does not appreciate me and is continually on my case.
- The company is in trouble. It’s not growing. There are no new products or services. Any day there could be layoffs, or worse yet, a bankruptcy.
- I am underpaid, and there are no raises on the horizon. The wait for a promotion will be too long.
- It’s impossible to get all of my work done on time. Too much has been dumped on me due to downsizings.
- This company doesn’t offer overtime pay…and I have to work late all the time.
- My benefits package has changed for the worse.
- I’m not learning anything new. This is just a dead-end position; I live for the end of each day!
Next, explore whether a change is possible within your current organization.
Before you jump ship, you should explore what, if anything, you might do to change things. Sometimes, employers don’t realize that their employees are discontent, and are often willing to work with them to make things better. Here are four examples of what you might consider:
- Request a change of positions inside the company (providing there are openings, you have the skills, and/or the company is willing to train you).
- Go back to school in the evening to add skills to your tool box so you become more valuable to your present employer (or a future one).
- Have a heart-to-heart discussion with your boss (provided he or she is approachable) to discuss your workload. Ask if it’s possible for you to receive help, or if the workload can be redistributed.
- If you are underpaid for the work you do, ask for a raise (provided the company can afford it).
Whatever you decide to ask for in this discussion, don’t threaten to leave the company if your request isn’t granted — even if that’s what’s in the back of your mind. At this point, you want to keep the conversation positive and avoid alienating your employer.
If necessary, take steps to move on.
If, after all things are considered, you determine that it’s time for a change, what next? The key word for you now is preparation! A job search campaign is not just slapping a résumé together and sending it out in a mass mailing, especially if you are looking for that TGIM job.” Here are the steps you need to take:
Do not discuss your plans to leave with anyone. This especially applies to individuals within the company, unless you have 100 percent assurance of their confidentiality. If you are unsure, keep your plans to yourself.
Make a list of all your job search interests. Next to each prospective position, note your relevant experience (how much time you’ve spent doing this kind of work) and your pertinent knowledge (how much applicable training you’ve had). It’s okay to list positions for which you have zero experience and/or knowledge. Remember, you can get training in a relatively short period of time, and it’s perfectly fine to start on a lower rung of the ladder. If you love what you do, you will become good at it, and promotions will be easier. Remember, your objective is a TGIM job!
Validate that the job you want exists. When you have identified the kinds of positions you want to explore, do some research with websites like Indeed.com. Does your preferred job still exist? Are positions available in the city where you wish to work? What skills are being asked for? Do you have those skills and experience? How and where do you need to apply?
Make a detailed list of all your accomplishments. Go back as far as you can in your career. Accomplishments are the most important tools in your job search bag. You will use them in your résumé, interviews, letters, replies to advertisements, phone calls, presentations, e-mails, and even salary negotiations.
Prepare a fresh résumé. Do not try to rework an old one. A killer résumé tells the reader what you have done in a concise, readable manner. It showcases your most relevant skills and related accomplishments. It shouldn’t include exaggerations — just the facts.
Do research on possible companies that you would like to consider. Before putting companies on your target list, check them out at Glassdoor.com and see what former employees have to say. Some reviews may be eye-opening.
Begin to explore the job market. If you see ads of interest with specific company names, try to network with someone in that company (for instance, using LinkedIn). Do not be in a rush to send out your résumé indiscriminately. Control its distribution.
Meet and prepare your references. Have a conversation with your references (preferably in person). Make sure they’re aware of your career goals, that they know how best to attest to your accomplishments, and that they will keep your confidentiality.
Keep copious chronological notes. Each time you make a new contact, whether it’s by phone, in person, in a letter, or via e-mail, record that person’s information. Keep a running list on your computer or smartphone (and back it up), or if you prefer to do it the old-fashioned way, in a spiral notebook.
Beef up your skill set. If your current skills are inadequate, now is the time to enroll in evening or weekend courses, if possible. If you are not disciplined in self-teaching, you’ll learn faster and easier by getting into a classroom environment.
Never stop tweaking your campaign. Based on the feedback you get from your references, mentors, and research interviews (or even job interviews!), adjust your campaign accordingly going forward. And keep in mind that your résumé, cover letter, and interview answers will probably need to change with each application. Before each meeting, think about which of your skills would best fit with this particular company and this particular job. Consider what problems the company might have and how you can solve them. Then tweak your materials to reflect your conclusions.
Stay positive. The message you send contacts and prospective employers should be that you are looking to transition into a new opportunity where you can use your skills, and that you are exploring all options. Be positive with everyone, and for sure do not badmouth anyone or your current company.
When you take an active role in managing your career, you won’t have to settle for a TGIF job. If you put in just a few hours every evening, you can work miracles. Your next job should be a joy, give you a feeling of self-worth, and if you become good at what you do, continue to be rewarding. Settle for nothing less than TGIM!
Peter K. Studner is the author of “Super Job Search IV: The Complete Manual for Job Seekers and Career Changers“. He is a master career counselor and former chief executive and board member of companies in the United States, France, and Great Britain. He has helped thousands of people with their career transitions and trains other career professionals to deliver this easy-to-follow program.