Spring is upon us! Now that the 2018 books have been closed out and bonuses have been paid, the time is right to start preparing for your next career move. Don’t make the mistake of going about your job search in a haphazard way by performing a cursory search and tossing your resume at any opportunity that seems like it might fit the bill. Sure, you might get a new position this way—but are you really advancing your career?
If you’re not familiar with Marie Kondo, she’s a Japanese organizing consultant, author of four books about organizing, and host of a new Netflix show called “Tidying Up with Marie Kondo,” in which she helps families obtain a fresh lease on life by cleaning up their homes.
Her unique process, called the KonMari method, involves taking stock of all your belongings, keeping only what “sparks joy” and lovingly releasing the rest. It might sound New Age-y, but this approach has a serious payoff when it comes to decluttering and organizing a space.
These principles can give your job search a boost as well. Cleaning out the clutter when it comes to your career can save you from wasting valuable time that stifles your upward trajectory or getting stuck in a stagnant salary.
Here’s how to apply a career-focused version of the KonMari method to your own job search to head down the path that brings the most professional fulfillment.
Career mapping: get to know your end goal
The families in “Tidying Up” know what they want: less chaos, more space, and more enjoyment of their homes. You can apply this perspective to your career. What do you ultimately want? Many professionals devote too little thought to this important question and stop with the basics: a particular title, a job in a specific field, or a particular salary.
However, these pieces are only part of a much bigger equation that takes into account all aspects of your ideal professional—and personal—experience. It requires a long-term mentality that asks you to define what you envision your life to be like in twenty to thirty years. From there, you break down the steps it will take to realize your vision in two-to-three-year chunks.
It sounds overwhelming, but there are lots of useful career mapping tools and templates available online to help you clarify where you want to end up, then break your progress down into specific, achievable objectives that can be accomplished in realistic time frames.
Look for career moves that spark joy
As you create your career/life map, examine your professional path from all angles, noting how it slots into your own definition of success. Remember that your own definition of fulfillment might be nothing like your neighbors’ or co-workers’. Here are some starter questions to consider:
- Where do I want to be professionally in 2-3 years?
- Where do I want to end up at the end of my career?
- Which title do I want next? Ultimately?
- Which of my current skills do I want to improve? Which new skills will make me more marketable?
- Do I want to work for someone else my entire career, or am I interested in ultimately building something on my own?
- What income level do I want now and in the future?
- Where do I want to live?
- What size of teams would I like to manage—or not?
- How much time do I want to spend at work vs. at home?
- What kind of commute can I handle?
- Do I want to travel?
- What does my family want and need from me today and in the future?
As you map out your goals in great detail, you can closely review all the aspects of your current job and future opportunities against your career map. If things don’t line up, move on to circumstances that will.
Bring your recruiter and network into the fold
A quality recruiter isn’t as interested in stuffing you into an open position as they are in helping you find a career that brings you professional satisfaction. However, absent any pointed information, they’ll do their best to determine what it is that they think you would like.
That’s why it’s so important to either share your career map with your recruiting partner, or actually work alongside them to develop your career map. Remember, they operate under a veil of confidentiality, so you can feel comfortable sharing the truth about what you find satisfying in your career and what you’re looking to avoid.
Take advantage of the benefit of their experience placing hundreds of professionals at every career stage in positions across the entire spectrum of industries. They’ve seen what makes for a great fit, and what types of placements are doomed to fail. When they have a clear sense of exactly what you’re looking for today—and in the future—they can further refine their search on your behalf.
Clarifying your job search criteria also allows you to put your personal and professional networks to work for you. You can replace vague requests like, “If you hear of anything…” with specifics about your desired position, including location, job title, skill set and industry. These details help your network of contacts take note when they hear of an open position that might be a great fit for you.
The “spring cleaning” mentality doesn’t just apply to your garage or home office. Use this approach to evaluate where you are in your career today and where you want to end up. By framing today’s job search actions through the lens of moving toward your ultimate career goal, you can strip away the distracting professional clutter and make choices now that set you up for a fulfilling, joyful career ahead.
Want to discuss the next phase of your career? Our expert recruiters can help you take stock of everything you’ve accomplished so far and determine what action to take next.