I recently started my own communications firm. After 18 years with the same agency and their holding company, I set off on my own. Well, pretty much on my own, as I was very lucky that my first client is my old company. I feel all the things that I think a new business owner feels -- excited, elated, inspired, determined and nervous all at the same time. Some days I can envision my company growing endlessly, other days I worry it will be just me buried under a mountain of work. But overall, even with all of that, I feel absolutely terrific. I can't stop thinking about what I want my new company to be which is why when I had brunch with one of my close friends the other day, I was ready to launch into talking about my current favorite subject -- my new company. But before we got to that, she started talking about herself and it was good that she went first because it was her we needed to be discussing.
Many things in her life are going terrifically but one very important thing is not -- she absolutely hates her job. As she told me about the challenges she is facing and the unpleasant people she is dealing with and the nights she wakes up in a cold sweat thinking about having to go to work the next day -- it really got me thinking. No one should wake up in a cold sweat night after night dreading what they do. Ever.
Quit, quit, quit, is what I kept thinking. But the reality is that it's not always that easy. My friend is a divorced mother of two in her mid-40s. She is incredibly well educated and accomplished, which means she is considered over qualified for many jobs. And she has the financial pressures of two kids and being on her own. It's not so easy or prudent to just up and quit before she has something else lined up. So what do you do when you are in a situation that you need to get out of, or one not quite so dire but that does not inspire you anymore? Do you stay in your job thankful for your steady income -- or do you do something radical and quit? Or do you look for a job while you can in between dealing with your horrible job?
I guess the answer is it really depends on what you can do and what you really want to do. But if the answer is to find a new job, remember it's always better to get a job when you have a job. So keep your job (for now) as you figure out what and where to go and try this:
1. Start by figuring out what you don't like about the position you are in. Often it seems to begin with a person you aren't getting along with. But when you dig deeper, there is usually much more to it. What don't you like about what you are doing?
2. And then on the flip side -- think about what you do that you really like. What excites you?
Then think about you.
3. What are your special skills? What unique value do you offer? What are some things that you bring to the table of a potential employer that nobody else quite does? What have you specifically accomplished?
Make sure to brand yourself.
4. Work on your resume, your LinkedIn profile, your Instagram, check who you follow on Twitter and what you say, whatever pieces of information and places people will see that you will be sharing with others to show who you are.
5. Be precise, informative, detailed yet concise.
Now you are ready to look for that dream job.
Of course this can all sound quite overwhelming and it's no easy task to be sure. And it is true that there will always be someone younger, more attractive, thinner, funnier and willing to work for less. But they won't be you. And at the risk of sounding like a Dr. Seuss book, there is only one you. You are unique and special and you bring all of your experience, knowledge, and interpretations of life to whatever you do. You are the commodity that you are selling and you must believe in yourself 100 percent. Remember all of that as you talk to a potential employer. They will be lucky to have you, which is sure to come across.