It’s time to talk turkey.
If you’ve played football, women’s basketball, or, >gasp<, what they call "football" over in Europe, you know that half-time is your time to get better.
Time to re-think your choices, remind yourself of the fundamentals and set any needed course corrections.
Any player that comes out of the locker room with the same plan he had going in… well, he just wasn’t paying attention, was he?
So this week, with Thanksgiving providing a needed half-time break in your job search, it’s time to ask “what can I change to make my search better starting next week?”
Let’s look at some common situations that people find themselves in at “half-time”:
Are you trying to change too many things at once with this job search?
You can change your city OR you can change your industry OR you can change your field / specialty. But if you’re trying to leave your Oil Services Marketing job in Dallas to break into Software Sales in Minnesota, you’re in for a heap of trouble.
Companies, employers, and hiring managers like to reduce their chances of making a hiring mistake. It’ll come as no surprise to you that hiring somebody who has already done exactly the same job previously is, all things considered, more likely to be a success, and more likely to stick with the job, than somebody making one, two, or three big jumps for this new position.
Make it easy on yourself. Changing one of these attributes at a time — your city, your industry, or your field — is tough enough. Don’t try to do two or three.
A simpler, easier job search is a happier, shorter one.
Daydreaming vs. being realistic
Sometimes you really want to get to the next level. Or get a foot in the door at the hot new company. Or just get out of a bad, declining situation… fast.
But perhaps you’ve set your goals high and reality isn’t cooperating.
How long do you wait before realizing it?
A week is certainly not enough time to worry. A month is just getting started. A quarter… and perhaps you ought to think about things. And if it’s been a year, the market is giving you a clear message: it’s time to get your head out of the clouds and come up with a more realistic plan.
That’s why it’s called a stepping stone
Perhaps you’re focused on the right job for the long run, but not the right sequence of steps to get there.
While it’s admirable to hope that you’ll leapfrog the competition to get ahead fast, you may need to take the time to build the right skill set, and the right set of experiences, before others will think you’re ready for the bigger role.
What changes could you consider making?
Might you need to take a lower title to get into the company that you’re dying to work for?
Are you ready to admit that your pay grade got ahead of your position, and that you might need to accept something lower in order to move?
Is it time to consider a lateral move, or even a temporary step back in order to do what you want to do?
With the passage of time — three months, six months, a year — the urgency with which you should reconsider your plans increases.
How far along are you this Thanksgiving week, and is it time that you should be worried about your progress?
Is your passion dying?
I’ll say it once again — you’ll do better and get further ahead if you follow your passion in life. Because our passion is what helps get us through the tough times and the disagreeable parts of any job, your being naturally, helplessly, authentically excited by your field or profession is the best boost you can give to your career.
But what happens if your passion is dying?
Well, if your passion was printing newspapers, trading stocks on the floor of an exchange, selling typewriters, promoting arena football, building toasters or microwaves in the USA, or any of the thousands of others of jobs that are destroyed by the inevitable march of capitalism each year, you’ve got a problem.
Joseph Schumpeter called it “creative destruction”.
To you, it feels like your passion is gone.
It’s a “Who Moved My Cheese?” moment, and as the pace of innovation accelerates, it’ll happen more and more frequently.
And that means half-time is the time for you to think about doubling down or walking away.
Doubling down means finding the modern equivalent of what you loved doing, and learning the new skills required to thrive.
So daily newspaper journalists become bloggers. Toaster-builders become toaster designers & marketers. Typewriter salespeople become document and printing salespeople.
Ecclesiastes says “there is nothing new under the sun”.
Every past passion has its modern equivalent, and there’s always a path — sometimes challenging, sometimes difficult — to the new one.
Or it might be that walking away makes more sense. If you really loved managing drive-in movie theaters, or growing hogs on the family farm, or distributing print magazines, and the newfangled equivalent leaves you cold and empty, it might be the wisest thing for you, at half-time, to quit. To pick up and move on. To find a new field for the new you.
While only you can answer, I can urge you to ask: “is my passion gone?”
Not enough focus
If you ever answer: “I like a lot of things… I’m good at a lot of things… I could do a number of jobs…”
…when somebody asks you what you’re looking for, or what job you’d like, you’re not focused enough and you’re hurting your chances of winning.
You’ve only got one set of eyes, and they can’t be pointed in multiple directions at once.
You see, while you’re telling people you can do operations AND sales AND finance, somebody else is telling the same employer that all they want to do is finance. They eat finance, they dream finance, they sleep finance. And they love finance.
If you were hiring for a finance role, which candidate would you favor?
You need to have a clear message about what your brand is and what you stand for. Trying to be the three-in-one microwave-radio-fax-machine is great for 80s RONCO nostalgia, but bad for finding your next gig.
Well, I hope this is useful for you as you think about your half-time during Turkey Week, folks.
Have a great break, and I’ll see you next Monday!