We all have that one friend who seems to have done everything right. You know, that so-and-so who landed themselves on the right career path from day one of school and rolled into a fulfilling career afterwards. Not a hint of an existential crisis to be seen within miles of their pristine desk (and leather swivel chair).
For the rest of us, navigating the windy path towards career success and fulfillment can be tough. Whether you’ve just graduated college or you’re five years into a job that you’ve discovered isn’t for you, looking for a job can seem overwhelming.
If this sounds like you, DON’T PANIC . You don’t have to have it all figured out now! Before you reach for the wine, box of tissues, remote control, and tub of ice cream, grab a piece of paper to get yourself thinking (And ok, you can bring the wine too if you like). Ask yourself these questions:
#1 - What are my skills?
Think outside the ‘career’ box: What transferable skills do you have? Via Tenor .
In today’s job market where career paths aren’t as linear as they used to be, your job title doesn’t have to define you anymore. Neither does your college major. So please don’t put yourself into a career ‘box’. Instead, make a list of your skills - because these are usually transferable between jobs and even fields.
For example, if you majored in science, chances are that you have an analytical mind and are an awesome problem-solver. This skill is highly valued by startups looking for smart people who can analyze data, draw results, and find efficient solutions to problems. Or if you majored in psychology, you probably have in-depth knowledge about how our brains work. This could make you a great marketing person because you understand people’s motivations.
While you wait for the Netflix to load, write down three to five skills, with examples of tangible projects which showcase your awesomeness at using said skill.
#2 - What would I love to do every day?
It’s important to get specific when you’re job hunting. Via Brock .
We like this question because it’s a little more specific than ‘what am I passionate about?’. When we ask ourselves what our passions are, the answers are often pretty vague, and frankly, quite useless. Before your next sip of that wine, write down three to five things that you would love to do every day .
What do you get a buzz off of? Do you love helping people grasp new skills and concepts? You might make an awesome teacher! Maybe you’re not a huge people-person, but you like using your brain to solve problems-- coding could be your calling! Think about what you would be excited to wake up to every day, and write it down.
#3 - What jobs exist with the skills that I have?
Get that cash money for your skills. Via Tenor .
The next step is to look at where lists 1 and 2 overlap. Keep in mind: it needs to be something people will actually pay you for. If you’re lucky, you’ll find that sweet spot where your skills, your passions, and what people want to pay you for overlap, and you can focus immediately on what you want. Woohoo!
But...if you’re realizing that there are some critical skills that you’re lacking to get where you need to be, don’t panic! There are plenty of ways to upskill outside of work. You could enroll in an online course on Udemy or Skillshare (with a two month free trial!) to teach yourself the basics of website development or marketing. Or you could get a weekend job as a waitress or manager at a local cafe if you’re thinking of opening your own food business.
Volunteering is another great way to build new skills. If you’d love to get into digital marketing, see if there’s a small non-profit that would let you do some social media for them. You’ll be helping them while helping yourself build on your skills - win-win!
#4 - Does my online identity best represent who I am?
Use online platforms to show off your skills and passions in a given field. Via Giphy .
There are many things that suck about job hunting as a millennial- the existential crises, the eye-rolling from older generations, being called ‘lazy’ or ‘entitled’...we could go on. But there are lots of great things about our generation that we can leverage to our advantage.
For example, it’s pretty cool that we can create and recreate our online identities. Once you’ve figured out what your skills and passions are, start showcasing them online! Even if you haven’t fully zoned in on what you want yet, this will help you focus.
Start by tidying up all your current social platforms so that they can tell a clear, concise story of you, your strengths and skills (we have some Quick Tricks to Clean Up Your Social Media Profiles if you need it). Make sure to update all the online profiles you have, so that your story is consistent.
Then, start demonstrating your passions by engaging with people online. Share interesting articles that relate to the kind of work you’re looking for. Develop informed opinions on the latest topics, and get some interesting conversations going.
Or even better: start writing articles on hot topics in your industry. By building a portfolio of articles or blog posts in a field, you instantly have something to point potential employers towards. Medium and Wordpress are two great (free) platforms for getting your ideas out there. Your online engagement will show employers that you are passionate, skilled, knowledgeable -- and worth interviewing for their next job opening.
#5 - Who can I reach out to?
IRL meetings require effort. And pants. Via Gurl .
Ok, so far we’ve written wine-fuelled lists and sat behind our laptops making our online selves look cool. That’s great, but now it’s time to meet people in actual life .
Back in our parents’ generation, the best way to get a job was through knowing people in companies and fields. This is still pretty useful today, believe it or not! Get on Meetup.com or your college alumni email list, sign up for the next networking event in your area, and show up. If the thought of networking sends you running for the hills though, here are some tips to consider .
Who knows, you could end up talking to an old college friend who knows the CEO of a new startup, and happens to be looking for a smart, flexible people-person to be their Community Manager! Boom. You have an in. Yes, the idea of going to these networking events can be scary, but you never know what wonderful connection could happen if you don’t show up!
Trying to find a job when you don’t know what you want can be overwhelming, especially in a world where your career can be anything from working in a bank, to running an online t-shirt business, to developing apps while sitting in front of your laptop in your underwear. The most important thing to do is to start moving forward, one baby step at a time!
You don’t need to know exactly what you want from the get-go. The sooner you start working towards it, the sooner you’ll get there. Sign up for Planted to kick-start your job hunt today!
Christina is a freelance musician, teacher, and health food blogger from Ireland who has been living in New York for the past two years. When she isn’t performing or teaching, you can usually find her out for a run, on a yoga mat, or making a giant mess in the kitchen. Follow her on Instagram .
Original photo from featured image by Markus Spiske .