An Open Letter to Job Seekers Trying to Land Their Dream JobMar 22, 2023
You did everything you were “supposed” to do to feel satisfied: got a degree, found a corporate job, landed that coveted promotion. From the outside, you’re successfully climbing the corporate ladder. The only problem is that you dread getting up in the morning to start your work day, feel disengaged and unmotivated, and come home feeling exhausted. If that’s not bad enough, you desperately want to improve how you feel about work but have no idea what to do or where to start.
First, I want you to know you are not stuck. If you’re like most people, you’ve tried one (or many) of the following strategies to “fix” this problem:
- You’ve hopped from one job to another HOPING to land the right one, but never have.
- You’ve taken career tests HOPING it will tell you what job to do to be happy, but nothing seems to resonate or fit.
- You endlessly scour job boards, but none of the positions you find seem to hit the mark.
- You have an idea of what you want, but are crippled by self-doubt, insecurity and fear and just can’t seem to take action toward your goal.
So let me ask, how’s that been working for you?
If you’re reading this, there’s a good chance it hasn’t and here’s the number one reason why:
You jumped to career strategy before achieving career clarity. Career clarity means knowing what you want and need from your career or job to feel happy and fulfilled and therefore knowing what to look for.
Most of my clients come to me because, like you, they’re unhappy in their career and they want to find work that they enjoy. They’ll say to me “Lisa, I just want to be happy!” That’s when I’ll say, “What do you need to be happy?” Cue the blank stares … or superficial answers centred around titles or money.
But here’s the thing: if you don’t know what you’re looking for how will you know once you’ve found it? (Hint hint: you won’t).
This is why it’s so important to achieve career clarity before implementing any form of career strategy. Or else you may find yourself moving really fast in the wrong direction.
Four unconscious reasons you dive straight into career strategy without getting clarity first:
- Instant gratification: you’d rather have a quick career win now even if it doesn’t last than wait and plan to create a better and more sustainable result in the future. All because it eases your anxiety.
- Avoiding discomfort: being in the unknown is hard. It creates fear, discomfort and insecurity. It’s why you propel yourself into doing something because it creates a perceived sense of control and provides you with a sense of security. It feels better (and easier) for you to do something than to do nothing, even if it’s the wrong thing.
- Escapism: you’re so focused on getting out of your current situation, that you aren’t being intentional or planning where you want to be going. You’re not intentionally moving toward another job; rather, you’re running from one. As a result, you end up in another job with no improvement in your happiness or fulfillment.
- Shame: you don’t know what to do to improve your situation and yet you also don’t want to ask for help. You think to yourself, “I should be able to figure this out on my own.” You also feel shame and embarrassment around asking for career help. This keeps you from getting the support you need to move past your unconscious career roadblocks, achieve the career clarity you need and ultimately find work you love.
Here’s what to do instead:
- Pause: clarity isn’t something found outside of yourself; it’s within you. You just need to be still long enough and offer yourself the time and space to reflect so that you can begin to find answers to your career questions.
- Get comfortable being uncomfortable: yes, pausing is uncomfortable, so your natural tendency will be to go into “doing” mode. Practice being in temporary discomfort so you can start creating long-term happiness (buh- bye instant gratification!).
- Cultivate clarity: career clarity isn’t achieved by focusing on what to do, but rather on who you are. Your career is an extension of you. At least that’s what it needs to be for it to be fulfilling. So before you start engaging in career strategy, make sure you have a better idea of what you’re looking for (I have a free guide to help you with this, get it here).
- Take intentional action: don’t spray and pray. Meaning, don’t apply to jobs for the sake of applying. Be strategic. Ensure that the roles and positions you’re applying to align with what you know you want now and need from a job or career to be happy and fulfilled. Also ensure that your resume and LinkedIn profile reflect this. This is where strategy comes in. (Need help setting up your LinkedIn profile? Purchase my LinkedIn training here).
- Ask for help: if you’ve been feeling stuck for months or even years and are struggling to achieve career clarity on your own, it may be time to ask for support. Working with a career clarity coach will help you uncover the blind spots keeping you stuck and cultivate the clarity you need to make your next career move a successful one. It’s more painful staying stuck than to change.
Staying stuck is more difficult than changing
When I worked as a certified career counsellor, I helped individuals who were struggling to find happiness in their careers, in-between a career change, and those who were experiencing burnout. I was seeing the same underlying problems time and time again: they wanted to forgo the inner work and just be told what to do, and they were relying on their past experience of what they have done to inform what they should do next. This works if your goal is to land “a” job, but not if you want to land a fulfilling one.
Landing a fulfilling job isn’t about what you can do, it’s about what you want to do. Ideally, it's both (this is what I refer to as a zone of genius). Without this nuance, you’ll end up making a career move and feel just as unhappy and unfulfilled somewhere else.
I know because I did the same thing. I attempted job changes, role changes, and even a career change in an attempt to achieve fulfillment in my own career only to find out I wasn’t any happier. It’s because I wasn’t doing the real work required to achieve fulfillment. That’s until I decided to take radical responsibility for my choices and my unhappiness.
You see, I used to blame everyone and everything for my career unhappiness and I used to suffer from the “I’ll be happy when” syndrome — if I had a better boss, people cared about their work as much as I do, if the work culture wasn’t so toxic … then I would be happy. I wasn’t in the driver’s seat because life was happening to me.
One day, I took a long hard look in the mirror and realized that I was the reason I was stuck and unhappy. I lacked confidence and consequently tolerated a toxic work environment and boss. Also, I had terrible boundaries, so I was overworked and overwhelmed. Lastly, I was insecure, which fueled my perfectionism, and then I doubled down on my work in order to compensate for these feelings. I was too scared to make a change which was why I was settling.
But at some point, the pain of staying stuck became greater than my fear of change, and that’s when I was finally open and willing to get the help I needed. I had an “ah-ha” moment that if I had inadvertently created my own unhappiness, it also meant I had the ability to change it. Which is exactly what I did! The work that I teach now is the exact work I did with myself, going from unfulfilled to aligned and happy with my career (and life). Now my mission is to pay it forward and help people live happier and mentally healthier lives!
So how do you get career clarity?
Now that you know that career strategy isn’t the first step when you’re feeling unmotivated, underwhelmed, and unhappy with your career and that it’s actually clarity that you need, you’re probably wondering, “How do I actually find career clarity?” I teach my clients a proven process to help them go from career confusion to career clarity (in just eight weeks)! I also help them build up their confidence so they have the courage to pursue their career goals. So, before you work so hard at climbing the corporate ladder, it’s important to ensure that your ladder is leaning against the right wall!
If you want to know more about my approach, check out my training video.