I was lucky enough to sit down with Suzanne Grossman, Brooklyn-based writer, job search coach, women’s leadership specialist and founder of Love Your Job (LYJ) Search, a series of classes that support women in achieving fulfilling work at the compensation they deserve. Sounds great right? Right up my alley! Suzanne is amazing and was able to share her secrets and tips for finding and getting a job you love! I hope you get as much out of this as I did.
How do you find a job you love?
This is something that most of the people I know struggle with and want. They want to do something they love but also want to make a living and support their lives too so they settle.
Where should people start? What are some first steps they can take to get started?
Great question! There’s a certain amount of self-assessment you can do for clues to what’s next. Think of it like a research project or puzzle to solve. Many people focus energy on what they don’t like about their current situation and neglect spending time with the question of what is it they enjoy. Ask yourself: What do you like about your current or most recent job, and what do you not like? What skills do you enjoy using? What skills do you wish you were using more of? I also suggest doing some reflection on values. For example, what’s most important to you at this stage of your career and overall life? What do you personally need to feel satisfied? Answers to these questions can reveal a great deal.
I have participants in my classes draft a “dream job description” as a step toward clarity on where to focus their job search energy. There’s an example on the Love Your Job blog. Most people can fill out aspects of an ideal scenario. Even if all of the pieces are not there yet, it’s a good place to start as you continue exploring your interests, skills, and values.
Once there is clarity, or at least a two or three ideas to explore, then you can start actively doing more of the job search activities such as reaching out to people for informational interviews, researching companies and updating your resume.
Where do people typically go wrong with this?
Going it alone is one way that people get stuck in the process. There’s an element of drudgery associated with job searching and career changes. I started leading small coaching groups for women in NYC to make the process less lonely and more enjoyable.
Also, a variety of fears frequently come up during a career change or job switch. These fears range from “I’ll never figure out what I love to do” to “I don’t have the skills necessary to make a change” or “This area will never make enough money so why bother exploring it.” We often need help sorting through our fears and feedback on what seems like “truth” to us.
It’s important to create a support system to keep the momentum going. If you surround yourself with positive individuals who can help you stay on course, you’re more likely to stay with the process. Perseverance is such a big part of job seeking.
If you know you don’t love what you are doing now but aren’t sure what you love, what are some ways you can discover work you love?
Here’s an exercise I use which provides people with useful information: Make a list of “enjoyable accomplishments” from different stages of your life. These are times when you felt you did something well that you also enjoyed doing. It could be paid or unpaid work, from college, childhood or recent experiences. All that matters is you felt happy doing whatever it was, thought you did it well, and experienced a sense of accomplishment. You can carry around a piece of paper for a week as you jot down ideas. After you have 15 to 20 items on your list, try to analyze what comes up. (You may need to talk this through with someone.) Are there certain skills use seem to enjoy using? Were you working alone or with others? Are their topic areas that inspired your energy and enthusiasm? There are usually ideas that emerge from this exercise which start pointing you in a direction to explore.
I wanted to offer a note about money and doing work you love: No one can tell you what “enough” means to you but you. Do you have a clear and thoughtful answer to that question? There are certain professions that no matter what you do, they are never going to pay a six figure salary. On the flip side, we all know money is only one piece of greater career fulfillment. How do we reconcile this for ourselves? It’s not an easy answer. I do know that doing what you love is more than simply about financial reward. I encourage you to ask about salary ranges as you do informational interviews, figure out where money fits into your overall life goals, and make sure you are valuing yourself (using Ashley’s wonderful resources!) as part of the process. This does not mean giving up on your dream of doing fulfilling work, but it could mean being creative, patient, and open-minded about how you get there.