I Worked With Them
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I Worked With Them

What to do for your next job

That’s it, no need to read further, that’s the advice

The first problem you will probably encounter when trying to find your first (or next job) is a slightly existential one… what you should be doing with your life now?

It’s an incredibly daunting question to ask yourself as it will make you feel like you are making a huge commitment, but really it doesn’t have to be. It is incredibly rare that someone’s first job is the same one they’ll be doing when they retire (although it does happen).

Instead of constantly thinking about how the next role you take has to be the right one (which puts immense pressure on you), just think about what would be an improvement on your current situation? What things do you want to learn next? Careers should be thought of as iterative developments; as you progress through them consider the things you enjoyed doing and want to do more of and the inverse, what do you not want to do anymore? Then as you look for your next role look to optimise for those things and see whether they are indeed things you enjoy when you get there.

The more you go on doing this the closer and closer you’ll get to your ‘dream job’. You may be lucky and get it right away or it may take a little longer, but the only way to find out is to try things and see what you enjoy.

If you just stay in one career that you just think is ‘okay’ then yes you will progress, with time, almost certainly, but long term you will likely not fulfil your potential and trying to maintain enthusiasm will become more and more difficult. One example of two career paths, one staying in the same role, never trying anything different and another ‘iterating’ through their career could be as follows:

(With ‘success’ being however you wish to define it: pay, promotions, enjoyment/engagement).

As you see (from this completely legit chart) it may take a little longer and be a little more volatile but there will reach an inflexion point where the skills you have learnt and focussed on compound and align with the role that allows you to perform optimally.

Don’t be scared to try something different, each change may seem a little scary but will help you become more adaptive to different conditions, working with different people, and challenge you to learn new skills.

It is almost impossible to know the perfect role for you until you try things, even if you think on day 1 “I want to be an actor”, you may try it out in a small way by joining an amateur dramatics club, but then find out you are more interested in the staging, set and scenery and less so in being centre stage. So you try that and realise you love making beautiful spaces but want something a bit more practical and so want to try events management, where you then might decide what you really like is specialising in huge business conferences, challenging yourself to make them that bit more bearable and exciting. So you bounce around, learning more skills, pursuing the bits that interest you and ditching the bits that don’t until you reach the thing you love and are great at.

So, to answer the question of “what to do next?” with an heuristic: choose anything that gives you an opportunity to learn about something you are interested in, that is marginally more orientated to what you like doing and involves less of what you don’t like.

It could be a new role in your current company or a role in a different one, the same thought process applies. Rinse and repeat once you feel like you are stagnating or identify another area you want to work on that you can no longer do in your current role and in time you will get to your dream role (it just may take a little patience)!

If you found this article interesting, you can find more on the topic here, and don’t forget to check out I Worked With Them.

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