Considering A New Job? Do This First.
Updated: Apr 27, 2019
Nashville is booming. We are experiencing job growth that outpaces almost every other city in the nation. This is a great time to be in a job search in Nashville, right? Well, maybe.
Over the past few years, I have worked with dozens of individuals who are trying to decide if they want to move up or out of their current role. Additionally, I have worked with a number of senior-level leaders that were downsized as companies have tried to reduce middle and upper-management rosters. The one thing that most of my clients have in common: They are talented, hardworking and pretty darn unable to clearly articulate what exactly they want to do next.
Therein lies the challenge: If you are unclear about what you want and where you want to go, then you will have one heck of a time trying to tell your story to others.
Here is an example: Dorothy (name changed) had a number of jobs in marketing for 15 years, with the last 10 spent in leadership roles. She had worked for companies large and small, and was miserably unhappy in her current role with a large healthcare IT company. When I started working with her, Dorothy could clearly articulate what she did not like about her current commute, role, team and boss.
When I asked her to describe what she wanted to do next, she had much less clarity. She spent so much time moving up the ranks of companies and tackling the next big project that she had not really given much thought to what she really enjoyed doing.
>>She spent so much time moving up the ranks of companies and tackling the next big project that she had not really given much thought to what she really enjoyed doing. <<
THE FIRST STEP: When working with a new client who is thinking about finding a new job or is actively looking, my first step is simple: Create a list with two columns: "Nice to Have" and "Do Not Want." Then, set aside 30 minutes and begin to brainstorm what would be nice to have in your new role and what you really do not want. Consider literally everything: commute, management style of your boss, size of team and company, type of work, daily routine, work hours, status/reputation of company, title, pay, office vs open floor plan, hours of work, travel, decor, overall environment, dress code, urban/ suburban/ rural, and more. (Remember the #1 rule of brainstorming: Do not apply judgement. Just jot it down.)
For all the items on your list, take it one step further: Try to get as specific as you can. For example, don't list "flexible work environment." Instead, list out what you mean by that term. "Able to work from home 2 days a week" or "work 7a - 3p with no lunch 2 days a week" are better descriptions.
Last, take a look at your "Nice to Have" list. Select 3 - 5 items that you consider "Non-Negotiable - Must Have" for your next job. Take your time. This is a very important step. These items MUST be in place for you to take a job. Why take this step? Because it forces you to determine what you really want. It drives deeper clarity about what is important. (And, it will help guide you when panic starts to set in and you think about taking a job your gut knows is not a great fit.)
THE SECOND STEP: Once you have additional clarity about what you want and must have in your next job, you need to begin to craft your elevator speech. An elevator speech is a jargony term for a quick summary about you or your company that you could tell someone over the span of an elevator ride. Elevator rides are quick, so your little speech has to be short and to the point.
There are lots of ways to go about writing an elevator speech. I recommend you review your lists and think about the job you really want. Listen to your head, heart and gut - they all have valuable things to say. If you spent enough time in step one, you should have a new level of clarity about the things that are really important to you.
From there, begin to craft 2 -3 sentence statement that explains two key things to someone you might meet who may be in a position to help you. Include Who you are and What you are looking for in your next job. This statement will help people very quickly know who you are and what you want. Craft them so that someone who does not know anything about you or your industry will understand what you are trying to say. Be clear and concise. One very important reminder to this step - remember you are marketing yourself. This is no time to be shy or reserved. Let you best self shine!
>>A sample elevator speech for Dorothy might sound like: "I am an experienced marketing executive with over 15 years leading teams and building brands for healthcare companies. I am currently looking for my next marketing leadership role with a small to mid-sized company in healthcare and/or technology in the Nashville area where I can be part of a leadership team to help grow the company and scale." <<
Here is the beauty of this exercise: Most people find it hard to be this concise. There is so much they want to say and so many stories they feel compelled to share. The task of forcing yourself to summarize who you are and what you want in under 30 seconds enables you to select only the information that is important and relevant. Focusing on telling that story to another person also ensures you are keeping the information relevant to THEM and you. The result is that you have greater clarity around what you want and you are able to articulate that clarity to others.
With these two tools - your lists and your elevator speech - you will have a greater degree of clarity that will not only benefit you, it will help others know how they can help you. Imagine the outcome of two conversations: the first where Dorothy tells a friend that she wants a new job and the second where she tells another friend her elevator speech. The outcome of the second conversation is likely to be more fruitful since the friend now has enough information to make more relevant connections for Dorothy.
Good luck and happy list making!