I have blogged over the past couple of years about various job search and career management strategies. In the past, some have commented, while they appreciate my advice, that I did not understand what it is like to be out there in this economy looking for a job. This is about to change. Over the course of the last five months, I engaged in a job search using the same tips and strategies I encourage others to try. Some worked; some did not. In the coming weeks I will detail my search process to share with my readers. I hope my story will help others as I detail how I went about my search.
Part I: To Search or Not To Search – That Is The Question
Many friends and colleagues have asked me why am I leaving my role and my employer? This was not an easy nor quick decision for me. It was a twelve month process. A couple of years ago, I began to feel as I was beginning to plateau in my job. My boss was a phenomenal advocate who allowed me to try new things, assigned me projects that stretched me allowing me to develop new skills, and in the in May 2012 he admitted he did not have any ‘new’ projects or challenges to provide me. So during a performance review thirteen months ago, I let him know that I would look around campus and within the department to evaluate potential areas of growth (for me and the office) and if nothing evolved, I would conduct an aggressive search in Spring 2013.
Decision: I decided to conduct a search because I did not want to become someone who started to go through the motions at work. I did not want to become the employee who shoots down ideas because those ideas were tried without success 10 years ago. I did not want to become the employee that started sentences with “We have always done it this way…”. In short, I did not want to become Tom Smykowski from Office Space – the guy who is asked by the consultants “What would you say you do here?” (By the way, did you know the actor who plays Tom Smykowski is an ND guy? Richard Riehle).
My plateauing at work was not anyone’s fault. My boss tried to find ways where I could continue to grow. I tried to find ways to grow at my current employer. In the end, nothing worked out and thus I was faced with the realization that to continue to develop, I needed to look outside of my current employer. This realization was a GOOD thing and is not a comment on the development efforts of ND. While I loved working at my former place of employment, I did not want to let myself think I could never work at any place else. That type of thinking will quickly put a ceiling on your career.
Timing: As I mentioned earlier, I spoke with my boss almost a year in advance about my plans. This afforded me time to evaluate options at my current employer and aligned my timing during the peak hiring season for my industry. I realize you may be employed in an industry that does not have a “hiring season” but if you do, be cognizant of this in your process.
Additionally, I was able to speak fairly openly with my supervisor because I had developed a good rapport with him over 10 years. He understood my looking elsewhere was not a reflection on him nor would my performance begin to falter as my search process ratcheted up. I appreciate that not everyone has this type of relationship at work with their supervisor. This relationship was not by accident, it was developed over 10 years of trust and honesty. If you do not have this type of outlet with your supervisor, I would not recommend telling your boss about your intentions a year in advance!
In the end, I remember speaking with a friend (I used him as a sounding board during my search) 13 months ago during a lunch. I told him that a year from that day, one of three things were going to be true:
a. I explored, searched, and found a new job.
b. I explored, searched, and discovered I like my current role the best and thus I am choosing to stay in my current role.
c. I explored, searched, and did not receive any offers from others. Thus I was going to stay in my current role.
Three options that all were based on action. I was not going to find myself a year from my lunch conversation in the same place because I did nothing. I decided that I was going to take charge of my future – deciding my employment prospects rested with me and not my employer. And while I could have ended up staying with the same job I had at the time, it was going to be because of my choices and actions and not because of inaction.
So, the first step in my process was the realization that I needed a change in my role. I reached out to my boss to discuss options within my current employer and I took control and evaluated options outside my employer. In the end, I chose to take control of my career and not let inaction dictate my future.
Tomorrow: Creating My Board of Trustees