How to Find the Right Job for You

career happiness finding a job Jun 13, 2023
Black man in a suit confidently walking down the road. Caption says

Is it time for you to make a job transition? Knowing how to find the right career for you is less complicated than you think. Unfortunately, the job search world is full of BS advice when it comes to how to find the right job. 

We’re here to push all that BS aside and embrace an effective, straightforward approach to the job search.

Job seekers often conflate finding a new role and finding a new job, especially when they feel burdened by the pressures of finding a new job.

A straightforward career coach will help you work on both and will aid you in prioritizing tasks to find the ideal role and specific job title. 

Job Role vs. Job Title

Most job-hunting advice is pretty simple: identify your target job title and go for it. If you’re a seasoned professional, however, you’re probably skilled in multiple roles and could fill a short list of job titles. Here’s how to break it down.

What is Your Job Role?

Your job role is what you actually contribute or provide. For example, an aspiring human resources executive should excel in roles such as mediator, negotiator, active listener, and researcher. 

These roles allow such an executive to focus on fairness, compliance with the law, helping employees work together, and resolving differences internally. 

What is Your Job Title?

A job title is a succinct description that implies your role in the company -- but be careful, as the same job title can perform wildly different roles and tasks from company to company. For example, an executive assistant at a law firm functions differently than an executive assistant at a public utility company. 

When performing a job search - either with or without the help of a straightforward career coach - you’ll need to consider both the role and title. Is it worth going for a desirable job title if the role makes you miserable? For most people, that's a hard no.

How to Determine Your Ideal Job Role

 As soon as you ask yourself or a career coach about “how to find the right job for me,” you should consider the job role before the job title in most cases. This isn’t the time to put your imagination away. While the world of business doesn’t care about the color of your parachute, working in a role that brings you fulfillment is important. 

It’s okay to have a conversation with that inner child to ask them what they want to be -- or how they think you should find the right job for yourself. 

Once you’ve done that idealistic work, you can more specifically assess your skills, the skills you like applying, and the type of work you enjoy doing. All of these factors help define your role. There are tools to aid you in the quest to determine the right role for you. 

 Some of them are time-wasters, but some can help you slay the dragon of doubt that stands in the way of effective job-seeking. 

Take Personality Tests and Career Assessments: Is This BS?

While personality tests and career assessments can help you determine a general course of action in your life and career, they’re tools to help -- not crystal balls to determine the future. Use them as you’d use input from non-experts and general tools: to explore options and narrow the field.  

Tests can be a helpful starting point to help you know yourself better, or to help your career coach assist you in finding a role that fits you, but an expert career coach will use this as a starting point to refine your career search, not as a destination.

No BS Job Tip: If a company asks you to take a personality assessment as a qualifying factor during the hiring process, it’s a red flag. While this sort of test can help determine how a team will work together, it’s not something a hiring manager should base a hiring decision on. If their own judgment in a short conversation or a team interview can’t help them determine whether you’d be a good fit, that says something about their lack of interview skills -- not your lack of competence.

I recommend completing the Clifton Strengths assessment and providing your career coach with the results to get meaningful data out of one of these tests. 

Clifton Strengths reveals your innate talents and capabilities when it comes to solo performance and teamwork, and with the right coach, you can work together with those test results to find alignment. The Clifton Strengths assessment won't tell you what you should be when you grow up, but the insights in the reports will tell you a lot about your own individual awesomeness and how you use those talents to get results.

Don’t Consult a Crystal Ball -- Consult Your Advisory Board

Another overlooked career role transition resource is your network, otherwise known as your advisory board or editorial board. You may already have a board in place and not realize it. Just as yourself this question: who are five or six people from your personal and professional network who you trust to advise or guide you? Heck, one of your best job search coach options could be someone on your advisory board. If you do not have an advisory board but want to create a community specifically to help with your job search, I recommend the book Never Search Alone: The Job Seeker’s Playbook by Phyl Terry for more info on how to harness the power of your networking by creating a job search council.

These folks have a lot of data on you based on the interactions you’ve had over the years. A solid advisory board is a mix of friends or colleagues you met in different places or phases of your life. 

An advisory board could include a work bestie, a parent, a friend from college, a spiritual advisor, and a good friend in an entirely different field from you. You can ask them what job role they see you in by asking specific questions like:

  • If you could see me doing any job in the world, what would it be?
  • If you had an unlimited budget to hire me to help you at your company and/or in your personal life, what roles would I play?
  • How would you describe what I’m good at to someone who hasn’t met me before?

In addition to helping you identify more roles you’re good at, you’ll find that talking to your board is a confidence-building exercise. When you ask people who would trust you with their lives, families, and careers about what you’re good at, you’ll find a lot of trust and confidence in your abilities. 

You’ll also find definable roles in the details: maybe you’re a six-figure earner who is appreciated for making the best coffee because you’re precise. 

That doesn’t mean you should head for a barista job, but it does mean you’d perform best in a role where you care about craftsmanship. Another friend might consider you the best caretaker for their dog. That doesn’t indicate you should open a dog boarding business, but it does indicate that you’re a caring person good at following instructions and using your instincts to make decisions. 

How to Find the Right Job Titles for You

Here’s the BS you often get from career coaches and general advice articles: brainstorm job titles, read job postings, and decide if there’s a match.

As you probably know from various types of relationships in your life, compatibility is about more than finding what you think looks good on paper. 

Titles like “project manager” or “product owner” mean very different things based on industry and company. If you’re looking for a new career in the tech industry, these titles come with a specific expectation of experience and certification, particularly in software development. 

While you might be expected to manage a development sprint as a project manager at a video game company, a project manager at a publishing company would involve editorial workflow and more dependence upon outside vendors. While similar skills are in play, the knowledge required is completely different. This is just one example tech career coaches encounter frequently. 

Here’s the straightforward career coach, no-BS approach to finding the right specific job titles: take some time to search for your favorite skills. Doing something as simple as looking up “project management” will provide a broad variety of job titles, not just “project manager.” 

Should You Take a Job Based on the Reputation of a Company?

Standard advice dictates that if you’re looking for job stability, a particular type of work environment, or a great “company culture,” you should check out companies that:

  • Make “best places to work” lists
  • Are good fits for people you know
  • Employ a lot of people

This is all BS. So, so much BS. Many of those “best places” lists are rigged (or pay-to-play / sponsored), what works the most for your friend might not work for you, and bigger companies aren’t necessarily better or more stable. There are also major differences between different teams inside the same company in many cases -- even if they are in the same building or division!

According to research by Marcus Buckingham and Ashley Goodall, authors of Nine Lies About Work: A Freethinking Leader's Guide to the Real World, the best fit and best culture is not a company-level thing.  It's more often something that happens on the team level -- it’s about whether you’ll work well together. You and your friend could also have wildly different work experiences if you’re at the same company and on different teams in different departments - and that's without even considering your own unique needs! 

“I Needed a Job Yesterday” - What to Do

While some job seekers are in a stable role and just starting to think about their next career move, others might be in a more precarious situation -- in a stressful work environment that includes bullying, at the end of their unemployment compensation period, or exhausted after a long and fruitless job search. 

Various forms of advice from BS career coaches and generic blog advice will tell hard-working job seekers in this position one thing: the problem is your “scarcity mindset” (ew, gross), which affects what you’re attracting or repelling. 

In most cases, this simply isn’t true. First of all, while I’m a huge fan of a growth mindset, it’s not a job seeker’s fault that various external factors make their search more urgent. We don’t control the economy and we can’t control others’ behavior. While we can control how we respond, successful job seekers have consistently strong habits, clarity about what they do and don’t want, a robust network, and consistency in their search

They are in control of these three success factors. While your job search may need to be more concerted and aggressive in this situation, a straightforward career coach will tell you if you’re deviating from those strong habits.

Being under pressure to find a job ASAP doesn’t overwrite the basics of finding the best-fit job or targeting each resume and cover letter for the desired role.  

Your Job Search Empowerment Starts with You

So you've gotten clear on what you can and can't control, you've sorted out a lot about what the right job role for you is, and you've figured out what to type into Indeed or LinkedIn search to start investigating jobs. What's next? I'll tell you.

Stop wasting time on doom-scrolling LinkedIn, getting discouraged by economic news, and reading BS blogs hell-bent on convincing you to buy snake oil to fix your scarcity mindset.  

Spend that time cutting through the BS by spending more time actually networking and applying. Results come from action. 

Even though team fit matters, the perfect job isn’t about the highest compensation or the nicest prospective boss. Every person has factors that matter more to them. Some people might value more vacation to spend time with their families; others want to be at a company that provides a clear path of upward mobility. 

Once a person’s basic financial needs are met, more factors come into play. I find that the leaders and executives I work with have a complex set of wants after those needs are met. It can feel like a lot to work through, but it's worth it to feel like Monday morning is a gift, not a punishment.

If you’re interested in a no-BS approach to finding the right role with a straightforward career coach, book an intro call with me. We’ll identify your needs and get to work.