5 Questions to Ask Before You Start a Job Search

Before you start a job search

A few years ago, I was in a really terrible job.

While on a lunch break one day, I wandered into Ann Taylor, hoping to indulge in some retail therapy.

After a few moments, a sales person came over and asked me if there was anything that I needed.

And I responded, “… Are you hiring?”

In that moment, I was very ready to leave a career in higher education for one in retail. Of course, that wouldn’t have been a great decision for me in the long term, but all I could really think about was leaving the job I was in.

Maybe you can relate?

We all have those moments where the tension at work gets to be too much and we know – without a doubt – that it’s time to move on. But how can we truly launch a job search from such a negative place??

This is exactly what I teach people to do in the Work Wonders Career Bootcamp

but you can also check out my free workshop, Job Search Like a Boss, for some more tips about launching a strategic job search.

If you don’t take some time to figure out what you want and what you bring to the table, changing jobs won’t make a difference.

In fact, skipping over the hard work of figuring some of this out is essential to making your next move matter.

In order to overcome the negativity of your current job and to prepare to communicate your energy and value to your next potential employer, consider thinking about the following questions.

What have you learned?

You’re looking to leave your job for a reason. It could be that you hate your job, you’re bored out of your mind or your commute is awful. It could be all of the above.

There’s often a lot of negativity that motivates a career change. And since you don’t want to carry that into a job interview, it can be helpful to focus on what you’ve learned from encountering obstacles, rather than focusing on the obstacles themselves.

Consider what you’ve done to mitigate work obstacles. Perhaps you’ve made an effort to learn new skills and pitch in on projects when you’ve felt unchallenged. Maybe you’ve learned to communicate more diplomatically as a result of working with challenging people.

By focusing on what you’ve learned on the job, potential employers will see what you have to offer - and not just a disgruntled employee!

How do you feel held back?

Ambitious people want to do creative and meaningful work and will almost always seek new opportunities when their current work situation leaves them feeling bored or burned out.

If you’re looking for a new job because you feel unchallenged - or, as I often say, challenged in all of the wrong ways - pay attention to that! It’s a very important data point.

Are you looking for more responsibility? Better team dynamics? Do you need a boss that’s a better mentor and advocate?Try to be as specific as possible here so that you can share what you’re looking for - and how you’ll contribute.

What do you want more of? Or less Of?

While career transitions and pivots always seem like a lot of work, there are always transferable skills and experiences to help us make a move in a new direction. Knowing which pieces of our skill set we want to nurture - and what we’re ready to leave behind - can help us identify jobs that will be a great fit.

What’s the impact of your work?

This doesn’t mean “How are you changing the world?” This question gets at what it’s like to work with you each day and shares your approach to your work.

A lot of people don’t know how to answer this question, but the good news is that it’s an empirical question. If you ask your current and former colleagues, they will literally tell you. I teach this exercise in my Work Wonders Career Bootcamp and use it with my one-on-one clients because it instantly shifts how people seem themselves.

I’m not trying to give you an ego boost but I am trying to shift your perspective towards your strengths. A successful job search means knowing - and successfully communicating  your value to a potential employer.

What do you want out of your next job?

Don’t be afraid to get super clear on what you’d love your next job to look like. Think about your ideal day at work, your commute, your team, your office. Write that ish down!

It doesn’t mean that you’re looking for a single job to address everything on your wish list right now, but it’s important that you’re clear on your priorities. That way, when you start entertaining job offers, you can return to this list and see how it fits for you.

My best resource for job seekers is, Job Search Like a Boss, and it's available for free. There are even more reflection questions in this workshop, plus I show you how to use these questions to launch a strategic job search!

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