The job market, especially for students and graduates, is tough. For those of us who have been helping people with their careers, this is not news. It’s always been tough finding the right job. And it’s always been getting tougher, or – at least – it’s always seemed that way. For the person looking for that first job, it often feels like trying to find a needle in a haystack.
There is a way to do it that is easier than sending out CVs and applying for job ads which, in finding your ideal job, is the equivalent of sifting through hay, handful by handful.
The critical activity is to examine yourself and your life. What are the values that run through your life that help to make you the special person that you are? What passion runs through your childhood, and joins all the disparate learning experiences that you have experienced, and chosen to experience? What is – and always has been – critical to you, that helps you to function at your best?
Take Ben. In his early twenties, he’d always known that he’d join the family accountancy practice. He hated it and left. Which way to go now?
Looking for the thread in his life, he thought about a project he’d done on castles as a seven year old, a book of pictures he’d lovingly assembled: a poem he’d written as a nine year old that had been highly praised; a plan for a fashion project he’d spent a whole morning on after a particularly stressful set of accountancy exams. The thread? A love of creativity and mixed media. That, together with his professional background, was enough to get him a trainee job at a new media advertising agency. He’s never been happier.
Or take Stephen. In his fifties, he’d worked in many industries, ending as a highly paid executive in an oil company, a job – and culture – he’d loathed. He was made redundant, and found it impossible to find another position in the oil industry. The thread in his life? Of mixed race, he’d always been fascinated by transfers of technology from the First to the Third World. He’d also loved his time in a pharmaceutical company, working to improve people’s health. The thread? It was all around providing services to poor countries. Almost immediately, he found a position in a pharmaceutical company that saw the developing world as the next growth area.
The sooner you stop trying to locate the needle, and start looking for the thread, the sooner you’ll find the job that is perfect for you, and for which you are perfect.