my-best-place2 Reading ads, sending out r√©sum√©s, and interviewing…interviewing…interviewing. Job hunting is a full-time job, with its own kind of stress, stress‚ stress.

When my last job ended, I took what some would consider an unconventional approach to a job search for my next perfect place to be. Thanks to good advice, this enlightened approach was less stressful and more effective. I felt the need for a completely new challenge, so I took steps to determine what that challenge might look like for me.

I do a lot of ‚Äúheadwork‚Äù when I made any change in my life’s a great deal of mulling it over before making any decisions. So when I looked at changing my career, one of the first things I did was to assess where I had been. What strong skills did I have that made my work efficient and enjoyable? On the other hand, what was I lacking in skills and what did I just plain not like about my job?

These questions got my juices flowing and guided me as to what direction I wanted to take. I reflected on what colleagues and friends had told me about their own jobs. I asked others about their jobs and listened carefully to their responses. Their answers helped me to determine which direction to go to find my new best place to be in the workplace—and the route I would take to get there.

I used my networking skills to meet people with whom I could speak to find out about working in specific fields. I began to contact people and ask if they would give me 20 minutes to ask questions about working in their particular career fields. I would go into an office with a set of questions and carry on a conversation, as opposed to sitting across a desk from a potential employer who would grill me while I sat there with palms sweating and knees shaking. This process yielded so much more than the old-fashioned way of waiting for the phone to right with an interview invitation.

At the end of every informational interview I went home and wrote a personal thank you note‚ a handwritten note, not an email. You know how easy it is to delete an email, but how often does a professional looking note card come to you?

Eventually, I had to send out resumes, attend conventional job interviews, but I was so much more well-informed, better prepared, and truly in control than I would have been had I not gone through the exploratory research process. I felt equipped to make informed choices about what best suited my skills and interests and what environment would serve my needs and preferences.

The heart of this process is that when you finally get to the job hunt, you have a well-defined idea of who you are and how you will fit in somewhere. You will also be must more refined at communicating with potential employers. As you negotiate for a new job, you will have a sharper picture of the issues that matter to you and what you want to ask for in terms of salary, benefits, work hours, and so forth.

You will know more about what you want and need in your new position because you have done self-assessment, and you will be better informed about what a prospective employer might be able to offer because you have done your homework through your interviews.

My ultimate goal was to find a position in which I could be with good people doing meaningful work that challenged me day after day. The enlightened job search process gave me the control, confidence, and guidance I needed to direct me to my next best place.

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