How to get focused and find fulfilling work

Part one in a seven part series about how to successfully find your next fulfilling opportunity.

If you’re reading this blog, the chances are that you’re considering moving on with your career. The big question is, do you really know what you want to do next? Do you have the focus you need to find the right opportunity for you?

A job hunt without focus is a recipe for frustration for you, your prospective employer, your friends and family (they’ll get sick of hearing you vent).

As a career coach, I spend my life helping professionals to find work that brings challenge, enjoyment and fulfilment.

Work in the 21st century provides a massive range of opportunity to use your talents, skills and experience.

Within business, there are more sectors, industries, niches and specialty companies than ever. Employers range from fast-growing start ups to corporate titans. You can work in an office or totally virtually.

On top of that, there are a huge range of opportunities in the government, education and social sectors. From social enterprises to think-tanks and universities to charities – the variety is endless.

The first step to your successful job hunt is to figure out what really gets you motivated and the type of organization you want to work for.

Once you have this focus you can:

  1. Create a targeted and successful job hunt strategy (see my next post for more)
  2. Create tight and focused collateral (your story, CV, cover letter)
  3. Clearly communicate your intentions to recruitment consultants, the organisations you want to work for and your interviewers
  4. Have confidence and clarity in yourself that you are making the right move

How to find your focus

The first step is to identify the criteria that you are looking to fulfil from your next opportunity. Take some time to think about:

Culture – what kind of environment do you like to work in? What size of team /organization? How much autonomy do you want (and how much support)? How much flexibility (location & time)? Entrepreneurial environment or established culture?

Challenge – what do you want to learn? What experiences are you looking for? Are you looking for stability or variety? What are the opportunities for advancement?  What kinds of problems do you want to solve? How much risk do you want to take?  How open to failure are you?

Pleasure – what kind of work do you enjoy most? What sectors / industries are most interesting? What will get you out of bed with a smile on your face? What are you fascinated by? What type of work will play to your strengths?

Purpose – where does the next role take you in the long run? What kind of life do you want to live and how does it fit with that? How does the job meet some of your values / deeper needs (e.g., making a difference to people, creating opportunity for others, providing validation)? What makes work feel worthwhile?

In answering these questions, you can build up a clear set of criteria for your next role to fulfil.

How to come up with a long list of options

The next step is to look at your options. The best starting point is to create the longest list of options you can based on:

  1. Your thinking and research to date
  2. Existing or potential opportunities
  3. Looking at people in your network and beyond and seeing which roles seem interesting
  4. Undertaking broader research (informal interviews, networking, internet searches, brainstorming, asking recruitment consultants) to generate new options

How to narrow down your long list

Once you come up with your long list, review each serious option against the criteria. You may find that along with this analytical approach, your intuition may tell you strongly what feels best.

Remember you ultimately need to come up with a next step that feels motivating, exciting and fits with your long term career plan. Once you’ve convinced yourself, you have the focus you need to move forward.

I’d suggest you write a clear description of what you are planning to do and why, in as much detail as possible to make the case.

A great way to consolidate this is to prepare a one or two paragraph summary of the job you are looking for. Be as specific about the type of company, industry, and role you would like.

This crystal clear statement will help you to focus on finding the right role for you.  It is something you can share with your network, recruitment consultants and potential employers.

Now that you are focused, next time we’ll talk about how to create a job hunting strategy that really works.

Image Courtesy of JLC Walker (Flickr Creative Commons)

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  1. Phil
    September 21, 2011 at 12:50 pm | Permalink

    What challenges do you face in your career change? How have you found focus? Let us know by leaving a comment.

  2. September 22, 2011 at 6:41 pm | Permalink

    I am full time employed in an office job, but wishing I could work from home and spend more time with my two little children. I want to be able to take them to school when the time comes, so I’m thinking about starting my own business. I can only really think of network marketing as a viable option, so have been researching the industry to death for several months now to find the right fit. Thanks for sharing your blog and for inspiring us all to strive for a less ordinary life!
    Michelle recently posted..What should we eat… and why?

  3. Phil
    September 28, 2011 at 1:22 pm | Permalink

    Thanks Michelle – appreciate your comments. If you get clear on what you want to create, then you can think about how best to transition. Not everyone needs to jump off the cliff to end up being self-employed. How can you trial a business on the side? Good luck with your change.

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