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Not So Obvious Steps If You Want a New Job

Tired of where you work? Looking for a new job? If so, you are not alone. We have all “been there” at some point in our lives.

new jobIn fact, in 2102 the Bureau of Labor Statistics released a study that tracked the number of jobs people born in the years 1957 to 1964 held from ages 18-46. They found men held an average of 11.4 jobs and women held 10.7 jobs. I can only imagine those numbers will be considerably higher for those born more recently, to whom a mobile and transient culture has become the standard of life.

If you want a different job though, don’t jump the gun. That could be disastrous on many levels, including landing in a spot that’s not a good fit. Instead take your time and go through an evaluation process that covers these six big areas.

Initial Steps to Finding a New Job

The next job is out there waiting for you. But before you land it, slow down and follow these steps:

Determine Your “Why?”

Determining a “Why?” has become a key element and basic first step for all decisions I make. It’s in asking the question “Why?” that we find clarity. It filters out the junk and cuts to the heart of what’s driving the decision.


Because it reveals our motivations.

Why are we doing what we are doing? What’s the root issue behind the decision? Why do we want that outcome?

So when applied to a new job search we would simply ask questions like, “Why do I want to change jobs?” “What’s the end goal of moving on?” “What is pushing me to move on?”

Be careful in the “Why?” step. It only works if you are honest. We can easily rationalize a job move based on factors that don’t really matter or that we don’t want to talk about. That’s why, in conjunction with the “Why?” step, you’ll have to deal with the next step.

Check the Attitude at the Door

Emotions can lead us to do some crazy things. I’m sure you’ve never done this before but…you know someone who one day simply got fed up at work. They slammed down their clipboard and said, “I quit!” The next day, while searching the want ads, they begin to experience regret because their emotions got the best of them.

No job is perfect. As I track back through each job I’ve held since high school, I can think of at least one thing I hated about each one. I can think of people that were frustrating at each one….tasks I didn’t enjoy at each one…procedures I didn’t like at each one…schedules and events and responsibilities and lack of benefits I didn’t appreciate at each one.

Any job is going to cause frustration at some point. It won’t be any different where you are going. You can’t run away from your negative emotions about issues at work…they’ll find you again at the next stop.

Emotions can also play out on the other end of the spectrum. You can get so wrapped up in the excitement of a new opportunity that you miss important details about the new position that may have impacted your decision. You are giddy about the forest without seeing the detail in the trees.

Don’t solely make a job change based on your emotions…good or bad. Handle them. Analyze them. Dissect why you have them. It will lead to a better decision if you do.

No Lateral Moves

Why would you move from one type of job to another that’s exactly the same? That’s called a lateral move and is a waste of time. It doesn’t improve your life in any way.

Always be looking to be moving towards something. Try to find something – anything – in a new job that is an upgrade over what you previously had.

The easy thing to look for is of course more money and benefits. However, other issues could come into play that might be an equally as important upgrade. These could include more time off, opportunities to work from home, less travel, more possibility for advancement, better hours, and even a friendlier environment.

Look for some kind of win in a new job that moves you forward financially, emotionally, spiritually or relationally.

Be Careful in Getting Advice From Others

Getting advice from others about a job situation is one of the first steps we often take. We want to know what others think about our thought process. We value their opinion.

I’d say this is even more likely if you are young. Teens and college age students are more likely to ask this question, “What do you think I should do?” simply because they – or think they – lack the experience, skills and wisdom to decide on their own.

Other people’s opinions about our situation are tricky though. Even if we explain the issues in depth, they still perceive our situation through their eyes. They filter it through their worldview. And, if it’s a family member or someone close to you, they may end up giving you advice that meets their needs, not yours.

I’m not suggesting we should never get advice from others. In the counsel of many wisdom can be found. Just don’t base a decision to change jobs solely on the words of another.

Can You Even Find That Job in Your Area?

So you have an idea of a new job or career path. But can that job that’s going to move you forward even be found in your area? Are their job opportunities in that field nearby for which you could even apply?

It makes no sense to get super fired up about a new job if a) there are none of that type in your area and b) you don’t have the means to relocate to where they are. You aren’t finding many coal miners in Florida, peanut farmers in New Mexico or shrimp boat captains in Alaska.

You’ll have to do some research and the best place for research to happen is online.

Check out sites like Monster.com or Career Builder or ZipRecuriter to see what’s available in your area.

Do targeted searches through government sponsored sites like USAJobs.gov or the online publication of your local newspaper.

Who knows? You might even find yourself looking at a website like this one if you feel a new job/career is leading you to another country.

Be Proactive

Whatever new job you end up securing it won’t simply find you. Employers value the go-getters and that’s what this process will need.

You will have to take the initiative to evaluate yourself, do some research and make connections. You’ll have to filter through all the advice, emotions and motivations as to why you want to change. You might find after doing all those things that change is warranted. Or your efforts will confirm the decision to move on.

Either way realize it’s a process, not a snap decision. That hasty, ill-thought out, emotional departure more than likely will only lead to regret.

Questions: Have you ever left a job a) without thinking about it, b) on the spur of the moment, c) out of anger or another emotion, or d) without another job to move towards? What other things should be considered when looking for a new job? How did you find your last/current position?

Image courtesy of Becky McCray at Flickr Creative Commons

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  1. Very good read! I left a temporary job and took on a permanent job that isn’t really what I want to do for the long haul (until retirement in about 20 yrs lol). I took it totally off of what I was told and it seemed like it was going to be a great opportunity, now I feel stuck. What would you do in a situation like this?

  2. Its funny I’m reading this today for I submitted to move up my retirement up 6 months so I can leave the military. I just can’t take the drama anymore and I feel that I really need to be around to take care of my daughter. This is not the life fit for a mom and a Christian. Yes there was an incident that triggered it but I decided to keep it to myself and leave with integrity.

    • “…leave with integrity.” If you have to leave that’s the way to do it. You don’t want to burn any bridges on the way out. Who knows…you may need a connection from someone at your current job in the future and you’d want them thinking of you in a positive way.

  3. Great point about the “why” step. You have to be honest with yourself, otherwise you are either going to come up short or even find yourself in a job or situation that makes you miserable.

  4. I used to get really emotional about my job and frustrated when things didn’t go my way. I had a great mentor, though, who reminded me that every step in my journey (no matter how painful) presented me with the opportunity to learn and sometimes those learning lessons involved managing frustrating work experiences. Now I mentor others through frustrating times in their jobs with the same advice. No job is perfect, but even the bad times present us with learning and growth opportunities.

    • “…even the bad times present us with learning and growth opportunities.” I completely agree Shannon. But it’s hard to see that when you are going through it. We focus on the negativity and why it’s happening to me instead of what we can learn from or do about it.

  5. I have left a couple jobs in my 20’s without having a new one, but that was in my carefree days, and also the 90’s when you could easily pick up temp work and usually land a full time job in no time. I think times are different now, and I’d be much more cautious leaving a full time job without examining everything first.

    • I agree with your assessment. With the shortage in the labor market a person is lucky to just have a job. I wouldn’t give that up on a whim.

  6. Good advice, Brian. I see lots of people who make more of an emotional decision when it comes to changing jobs. And like you said, we experience certain frustrations at every job we hold. The grass is always greener only holds true for so long before those weeds sprout up again.

    • “The grass is always greener only holds true for so long before those weeds sprout up again.” Love it! You need to patent that saying. 🙂

  7. I love that you start with discerning your reasons for wanting a move. Having a good attitude about work is definitely the right way to start looking for a new job, to. Knowing your “why” and finding contentment are so essential to handling finances well.

    • And so often we are not honest with ourselves about why we are moving on. If that’s the case I think a person will have difficulty finding that job which fits them perfectly.

  8. I’ve never voluntarily left a job without having another job waiting for me, and I’m pretty sure that I’ve met the criteria you outlined, as far as it either being an upgrade or offering more pay, etc.

    • “…without having another job waiting for me…” Short of an ethical or moral issue, I don’t know why anyone would leave another job without having someplace already to go next. I think that would be a little short-sided.

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