What to Do When You Don't Know Your Next Career Move
Original Illustration by Stephanie DeAngelis
Starting a new job is like going on a first date. There's that spark of excitement and willingness to impress during the early stage, but as time goes on and you forge a well-trodden routine, it's easy to let that passion wane. We've all been there, but according to Sandy Gould—senior vice president of culture, coaching, and communicating at Yahoo—career fatigue can be a serious problem.
"I think there is a direct correlation between your level of passion and inspiration, and your level of engagement and creativity," he tells MyDomaine. In other words, if you feel like you're in a career rut, there's a good chance it's reflected in the work you do. If you can relate to the number of Australians who admit they aren't engaged at work and don't know what your next career move should be, follow this four-step guide to get your mojo back. Yes, it's possible to find that passion again. Here's how…
Everyone has a unique set of skills that set them apart from their co-workers, says Gould, and being able to identify yours is key. As a key player in talent acquisition at Yahoo, he says applicants who can't articulate their strengths are an instant red flag. To find yours, answer these questions…
- What do you love doing at work?
- What have people said your are good at?
- What successes have you had, and what super powers helped you achieve them?
- What do you do differently than others?
- What do you want next: a title, more money, a role, or a skill?
Ready to jump ship? Quitting might seem like an easy solution, but it's not always the best, says Gould. Instead, he recommends questioning your current role to see how you can redefine it to align with what you love. "Look for aspects of the role you can reimagine, and do it in a way that allows you to create amazing experiences, connections, and outcomes with your favorite super powers," he says.
It's familiar territory for Gould, who admits he used this advice to pivot his career, which started in a headhunter sales role. "I didn't like sales, but I loved people and wanted to consult and counsel," he explains. "So I did the job differently by coaching the hiring companies on how to best manage people, and I counseled candidates on discovering, developing, and unleashing their super powers by doing what they love." The lesson: If you can't find your dream job, create it.
While those at the peak of their career might seem like they've always been super driven, the reality is that career fatigue is surprisingly common, so don't be afraid to reach out to others in your company for advice.
"Identify someone who has successfully grown inside the company," suggests Gould. "Ask them to share their story, and look closely at how they made their moves; what skills, lessons, and experiences they pursued to grow; how they did it; and who helped them."
Park your ego, listen, and learn. "[It's about] being a great student, not looking like you know the answers. My favourite motto, which I made up to remind me what to do in tough situations, is 'Learning is always right. Knowing is imminently always wrong because things always change.'"
You've found your career super powers, questioned and reimagined your role, and sought advice from someone you trust. The final step to define your next career move is to build a plan. Gould recommends online tools like a career development plan, which help you map goals, pinpoint your strengths, and name key areas of development.
"It then prompts you to build a development plan using a menu of in job assignment, outside job assignment, class learning, reading, training, and mentorships to get to your goals," he explains. This might seem daunting, but taking a tactical approach will help break down the steps needed to define and reach the next stage of your career. By the time you've finished, you'll never question your next career move again.