This is one of the first things I ask candidates when I speak with them. And, about 30% of the time (or more), the answer is “I honestly don’t know.” The truth is, we are at a point in advertising, more than ever before, where we have an almost paralyzing amount of career and company choices. I’m sure many of you have heard the research study where two stands set up at the beach on a hot day to sell ice cream. One stand has three flavors, and the other stand has (let’s say) 20 flavors. The one with only three flavors ends up selling more. Why? Because the people who had more options felt overwhelmed and ended up walking away with nothing.
It doesn’t have to be like that in your job search though. The reality is, when you start to really focus on what you care about in a job/role, then the choices narrow down very quickly. To help with this process, I send a questionnaire that first asks him/her to prioritize the top three most important qualifications in order to move to a new job. It could be a promotion, raise, a desire to work at a bigger/smaller company, etc. While we may have 10 things we want in a job, there are always the non-negotiables. Those should be at the top.
Another important thing to look at, what WON’T you do or what DON’T you want in a new role? You often learn more about what’s important to you when you think of what you don’t want than what you do (e.g. I won’t travel more than 25% of the time).
Last, and this is advice given to me by a former co-worker (thanks Joe!) – make sure you are always running to an opportunity and not away from a bad job. There is no faster way to make a mistake than to rush to something out of frustration. As bad as your current situation may be, it is always worth it to make sure the new opportunity is something that will truly make you happy to get out of bed in the AM.
If you take this approach, hopefully you will see the landscape for what it is – a vast sea of opportunity. You just have to adjust your lens to find what’s right for you.