Archive for July 3rd, 2008

The Mind of the Job-hunter: Open? Closed? Both!

July 3, 2008

Have you ever noticed the conflicting information in those shelves of career books?

Career specialists frequently say at least one of the following:

  • You should know what you want. You have undergone an analysis of your strengths, skills and experience. You don’t have to settle. Know what you are looking for, communicate this clearly, and you will find it.
  • Be open to the possibilities. Yes, you have an idea of what you want, but other people know what is out there. And they may see things in you that you do not.

Which is right? Actually, both have the ring of truth. Life choices are not neat and clear-cut very often. Most times of transition are fraught with feelings of being tugged in many directions. Some people call this caught in the tension. It’s just the way life is much of the time.

So what’s a job-hunter to do? I’d like to suggest a few steps that can help you draw on the wisdom that both these viewpoints can yield.

  1. Do a personal/professional inventory. Start with who you are and what you want. Know what you love to do.
  2. Think about other people like you. What jobs do they hold? What successes do they achieve?
  3. Ask people you trust to suggest ways that you can widen your perspective and search for jobs in new areas. Try to be open to listening to what they have to say.
  4. Of course, you don’t have to follow their suggestions, but they will be happy to learn that you investigated their ideas to some degree.

Does this process contain conflicting information? I don’t think so. If you are a young person just entering the labor market, you will learn that feedback is as valuable as knowing yourself. If you are a person planning something new for your retirement, you have (I hope) learned that the feedback you have received over your years of employment falls into a pattern. Maybe it is time to follow where that pattern takes you, especially if it parallels what you have thought about all along.

If you would like to speak with a career counselor about balancing the two threads of self-awareness and ideas from other people, please visit for information on career counseling.