You become a job seeker the moment that you entertain the probability of a move.
Some would say that many of us are constantly on the lookout for whatever comes next, but there is definitely a moment when you flick a switch in your head and say:
“Okay, I’m going to look for a job.”
You might have been debating the pros and cons in your head for weeks, but the likelihood is that you won’t have given the practical next steps much thought. Up to that moment, the job search seemed like a blissful possibility, a pleasant dream of what might be. Now it is the time for action, but what should you do first?
Forget about writing your CV, messaging every recruiter on LinkedIn or stalking your future bosses on every imaginable social channel. There will be a time and a place for all of this, but to start with you need to strip things back and paint yourself a picture.
Not a picture of where you have been, but a picture of where you would like to be.
Too many job seekers limit their career moves by basing them on a foundation of what they have achieved in the past. The days of a rigid career path are long gone - just a few changes can set you on an entirely different trajectory. It all depends on where you want to be. If you haven’t taken the time to paint the picture of your ideal future, it will be impossible to make moves towards it.
You have to start with a blank canvas. Then comes the hard part. You owe it to yourself to paint your ideal future, in all its untouchable detail. That is where most people let themselves down. They feel that unless their goal is practically connected to where they are now, they are setting themselves up for failure. This inability to aim high is why so many job seekers settle for second best, why the first job that comes along is the often first one that they accept, and why so many of us are selling ourselves short, right now.
Unless you paint your ideal picture of where you would like to be, you will have no chance of getting anywhere near it. You have to have that exciting feeling of “I’ll never get there, but I will do my best to get as near as possible.”
This takes courage.
Why? Because it takes time. Aiming that little bit higher and not accepting second best often takes longer. It means that you will eat into your savings that little bit more. It means that you will have to put up with the well-meaning “how is the job search going” questions for a little bit longer. It also means confronting self-doubt and questioning your worth on a daily basis. You won’t go far unless you begin in the right way.
The first thing that any job seeker should do is paint a picture of their ideal future.
The second thing that they should do is give themselves enough time to get near enough.