What’s Next? Making the day after your job ends count.
This post is for the election worker the day after votes are counted. Or the person who just got laid off from CNN. Or the person who will be laid off December 31 (thanks Harris v Quinn!), or for anyone who sees the end of their current job on the horizon, and wants to make their next career move to count.
Today’s blog is an overview of the process of getting a meaningful next job, with a challenge to get started. I’ll be sharing what I’ve learned from my own career change and from coaching mid-career professionals through their transitions. Over the next few weeks I’ll go into more detail on each step. In reality, it’s not at all linear. You’ll find yourself going back and forth through these stages and still making progress. I’m hoping that laying the process out for you generally will help you orient in a time that can be really disorientating.
For you people who are panicking, scroll to the bottom to get some job seeking resources and a little talking to. For those of you who are happy & hopeful (or can keep your anxiety in check), read on. Over the next few weeks, I’ll to be blogging about how to figure out what you want to do next, and get a great job.
First, take a fucking break. Excuse my French, I’m swearing at you because I’m going to tell you to do some fun stuff, and you won’t believe me unless I am hard core about it. You are tired, stressed out, and not thinking clearly, and if you try to figure out your next step now, you’re going to have tunnel vision. It’s a really important step to recover first. Indulge for a minute in a harmless vice (binge watching Netflix, anyone?) but shift quickly to things that will really fill up your soul.
Not convinced that this is a serious step? Imagine trying to brainstorm ideas with Eeyore, do you think you’d have a very good list? Now imagine brainstorming with a high energy friend. Which would be best for generating new ideas?
So today, do something that feels like playing hooky – fun, rare, exciting, and energizing. You know you’re on the right track if you hear a tiny voice saying “…but I can’t ‘afford’ the time to do that. Instead, I should…(look for a job, call my mom, update my resume, etc).” Later, you’ll need to get down to business. Right now, you need to do things that will re-energize you before you get started. There’s probably a part of you that feels too exhausted or scared to do this kind of thing and so that voice and all its ‘shoulds’ will pop up. Ignore them for now.
What really touches your soul & recharges you? Some examples that recharge me are: driving into the desert and lying on the top of my car, trying to fill my view with only sky. Going dancing with friends. Singing. Going into the woods and climbing a tree. Having a cup of coffee in a bougie coffee shop with a thought provoking book. Taking a walk to see the trees change colors. Going for a run. Taking a long bike ride. Watching the waves crash on the shore of the beach in the cold. Going to the gym. What idea just crossed your mind? Go do it. Now.
Brainstorm new possibilities. You’ll feel your recovery kicking in when you’re getting big, fun ideas about what you can do next. Ride this wave and list out all the fun things you could be doing. Follow ideas you’re enthusiastic about and let each idea lead to something bigger, more unusual, or more fun. Search LinkedIn for interesting keywords that seem totally unconnected and see what comes up. Make a list of the most inspiring people or projects you know of. Jot down your perfect job description. List all the jobs outside of your current path that you’ve ever wondered about.
Absolutely zero judgment here. The idea you say now might be totally unrealistic, but it can lead you to something down the line that is actually perfect. If you say ‘no’ now, you’ll never get there.
Test your favorite ideas, low stakes style. Pick a few of your favorite ideas, and learn more about them in fun ways. Pick someone with a great job and find everything you can online about their job and their career path. Imagine yourself in their shoes. Do informational interviews with people in fields you’ve admired from afar, or with people who seem to have great jobs. Treat this as a scavenger hunt, noticing what you like and what you don’t. Develop a list of your needs & wants out of your next career step. Follow the clues about what you like to something that feels exiting and feasible (it might be scary). Rinse and repeat!
Commit. Once you have narrowed it down to an idea or two, it’s time to commit and go for it. If it’s not a career change, start networking and applying for jobs.* If this is a career change, use informational interviews to determine if your current skills are relevant and can be reframed, or whether there are new skills you need that would require going back to school. Volunteering or taking prerequisites is a good way to test a new field while working. This is hard work, and you will probably feel scared or uncertain at some point. That’s normal, work through it to land a really meaningful next step.
Make the most of a fresh start. When you land a great new job, negotiate – especially if you are a woman or a person of color (check out the wage gap). Always ask if your salary is negotiable, but also think about the non-monetary items. When you get your new job, you have a chance to build in new, good habits. Make the most of being new, and ask questions, even the ‘dumb’ ones. If you were a work-a-holic on your last job, start in a way that you can sustain. If you were frustrated in the past that you weren’t advancing, or got bored with your work, use this new start to be proactive about your career. This might mean asking for the kind of work you find fulfilling, and asking for feedback about what the organization needs and how to advance. If you had poor communication with co-workers before, now’s a great time to try out some new ways of communicating and set a better foundation. Don’t waste your chance to practice something new.
Are you ready to take a break and recharge now? Great!
If you’re not convinced, or if you’re panicking, read on.
First, you can afford one day of recharging. Start with a day. There is probably someone that you work really hard for (immigrant mom with three jobs, coal miner in West Virginia, health care worker doing 10 hour shifts). You want that person to have the time to recharge and take a break, you believe in their right to do that. Guess what, you have that right too. Absorb this. You won’t be able to change anything for them if you don’t create space for yourself to think bigger. If you have tears in your eyes right now, you especially need a break. It’s ok.
I grew up poor, so I know there are realities that you can’t just ignore. Give yourself a minute to check in on these two things, to meet your need to feel some security, then still take a day off.
1) Take stock of your safety net. Do you have 3-6 months of savings? Stop worrying, right now. You’ll be fine. I don’t want to hear it – you’ve been able to save money exactly for a time like this. Go recharge your battery.
No savings? I’ve been there. Take stock of your safety net. Family, friends, unemployment? You’re resourceful. Marketable skills? Sometimes, imagining your worse case scenario is reassuring. You’re not going to be homeless. My husband went to work for Popeye’s Chicken after a move when he had a hard time finding a job. I’ve drummed up consulting. If you’re reassured and know you won’t be homeless, go take the day off. If you’re scared and depressed now, go find a good friend/therapist/coach and let them help you get some perspective and make a plan. You’re not alone in this.
2) Jobs! Here’s a growing list of resources, heavily biased towards people doing movement work. If you’re in a different field, ask colleagues who have recently gotten jobs where they looked (or just check out LinkedIn). If it makes you feel better, browse job list-serves, sign up to get updates in your email, maybe even apply for a job. Then take the day off. * My favorite career resources!
Next time, we’ll focus more on how to build a broad list of ideas to explore. In the meantime, enjoy filling up your tank & tuning into what you really want. This is the foundation everything is built on.
Your homework this week is to pause at random times – at least once a day – and ask yourself, “What would I like to do right now?” Check in and really feel what the answer is, and do it. The answer could be anything (it doesn’t have to appear job related). The point here is that by tuning into what you actually want, and re-energizing, you’re building up some personal capital that will help you going forward.
Continue on to What’s Next. When you lose your $*%t.
Julie Roberts-Phung is a career and leadership coach with some really happy clients doing exciting things with their lives. If you’re curious about coaching, you can book a free, no-obligation sample session to ask questions and try it out here: booketc.youcanbook.me