I've been a career coach for 20 years. Here is my best advice for job seekers

Maggie Craddock, career coach and author of "Lifeboat: Navigating Unexpected Career Change and Disruption," shares exercises every job seeker can use to plan for the future.

Maggie Craddock

I have been a career coach for 20 years, and I have worked with hundreds of CEOs and executives. The most successful CEOs I work with understand that the mindset that is most useful when it's "business as usual" isn't the one that they need to successfully navigate periods of change and disruption. That goes for job seekers as well. 

So many of us are looking for new job opportunities right now in industries that have been transformed over the last few months. If that is your experience, as you look for your next role, I would start with answering these three questions.

  1. What are my transferable skills?
  2. What does my dream job look like?
  3. What is my definition of success? 

The important thing about reflecting on these questions is to not censor yourself. There are no wrong answers. Take a few minutes, get them down on paper, and refer to them often as you are reaching out to your network and applying for jobs. 

Doing an emotionally honest personal inventory will be a big help when you make new connections and they inevitably ask you, "What are you looking for?"

During a challenging time, no one wants to feel like they are only reaching out because they want or need something. It's natural to worry about this, but I've found that the best way to allay those fears is to approach these conversations with what I call an "us-help mindset." 

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Rather than thinking in terms of what the other person can do for you, get outside of yourself and ask, "What can I do here to add value?" Can you collaborate, develop a solution to a painful problem, provide a service or do some good in your community? 

Focusing on what you can do to help can help sustain you through the toughest aspects of a career disruption. This will also help prevent you from operating from a scarcity mindset. You can also remove some of the fear that can come with that scarcity mindset by clarifying your emotional relationship with money.

Focusing on what you can do to help can help sustain you through the toughest aspects of a career disruption.
Maggie Craddock
Founder and President of Workplace Relationships

With that in mind, I recommend doing this second exercise. Write down these five questions:

  1. What did you learn from your family systems about the importance of money when it comes to your career? 
  2. How much does your salary influence your sense of self worth and identity? 
  3. When you spend money, are you thinking about the present or the future? 
  4. What are your sources of financial stress? Where do they come from and what steps could you take to change them?
  5. Do you find yourself comparing your money situation to others, or thinking about where you should be by now? If so, why is that? What is a money choice you made that you are proud of?

Under pressure, emotions can overwhelm us and prompt impulsive decisions. But having this information is a big part of figuring out how money has factored into your career choices in the past, and what matters most to you now, as you plan for your future. 

As hard as it might be, try not to take career setbacks personally. Even if we don't realize it, our jobs can become a big part of our identity. But when you understand your core values, you are better equipped to identify or create a space where you can thrive.

Stay focused in the present and take small, positive steps each day that will keep you moving forward.  

Maggie Craddock is the president and founder of Workplace Relationships LLC. She is the author of the upcoming book "Lifeboat: Navigating Unexpected Career Change and Disruption" (August 2020). Her previous books have been published by The Harvard Business Review Press and New World Library. To learn more about her coaching methodology, you can visit her website: workplacerelationships.com and follow her on LinkedIn, Twitter, Instagram, and YouTube.

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