Most of us know that the best time to find a job is when you have a job. There is something psychologically attractive for some employers about hiring someone currently employed, and I get it to a degree. But, I also know that it does not always mean that the person who just left one company for yours is the right fit. That goes both ways—companies are not always the right fit for the person, either.
When both the company and candidate know their objectives and priorities, and take some time in the process, the odds improve for both parties. I could take this story in a few directions from here, but in the interest of brevity, it will be about people who need a job and are eager to get to work.
Too often, we set out to find the right job and end up settling for just...a job. Or just enough money to meet or exceed our financial target. We start with good intentions, but the “tick-tock” of time versus our personal burn rate gets louder, and before we know it, we’ve accepted a job that meets some of our needs, but perhaps does not really align with our values and/or long-term career objectives.
Believe it or not, I have encountered this once or twice in my (ahem) years in produce, both personally as well as with candidates. Here are my conclusions:
Develop a plan
It may not be perfect and it may not have all the answers, but it’s a start and it’s better than the “no-plan plan” for those Along Came Polly movie fans. Your plan is a living document, and should be reviewed and updated on an ongoing basis.
Commit to it on paper
Write down your career plan, values, objectives, and criteria. Compare opportunities against that plan, not just other opportunities, or even your present employer.
Develop target jobs and/or companies
This should be based on your criteria. Evaluate and study them. Network with people who already work there.
Interviews are opportunities
This is a chance to get to know people and companies. Go into an interview prepared to both share and ask questions. Remember, in addition to the employer getting to know you professionally, this is your chance to collect information about them. How does their company and job opening(s) align with your plan, priorities, and career path? As long as this is done respectfully, your interest should be appreciated. A fair warning: Some hiring managers do not like being “interviewed,” i.e. asked too many probing questions...especially if they don’t have the answers. Use your discretion.
Keep your eyes open and learn
Just like every interview is an opportunity, many conversations are opportunities to learn from and share. Network and connect whenever and wherever possible.
Choose carefully and with strategic intent. Don’t settle for a job or company that doesn’t fit your priorities, values, plan, and long-term objectives.
This helps in so many ways, and sometimes alleviates the false sense of urgency we can create out of our “need” to make more money and/or have more of a title. Move for the right reasons based on your plan, path, and destination.
Now, before you rush to update your resume and start applying to all those jobs on JoeProduce.com: Think. Plan. Focus. Act. Or, as I like to say, “Ready, aim, and shoot.” In that order.
If that clock is ticking LOUDER, and you find yourself applying to something miles away from the path that leads to your longer-term goals, stop. Breathe. Now, think about your main goals and priorities. Where do you want to be in ten years? How do your decisions now fit into your long-term plans? Do you even have a long-term career destination? Do you have an idea how to get there? What skills and experience do you need to acquire or develop to build your career? What are your values? What are your priorities? Answer these questions on paper for yourself first.
1. Focus! Now that you have a plan and have at least some idea as to your destination and career path, focus on that and your priorities.
2. Act! That means GO! Take steps that are directionally congruent with your path and destination objectives. Work towards those goals and stay as true to your plan, path, and destination as possible.
You’re much more likely to get where you’re going when you know the destination and the direction, even if it’s just the general direction. If you get lost, I hope these tips help give you the tools to stay true to your path.