Updated: Apr 6, 2020
Here are 3 quick tips on how to make your next career move your best move!
“What are you looking for in your next role?”
After deciding to move back to Washington, D.C., to help care for my mom, my manager asked me this question during our bi-weekly mentoring session. I have flawlessly answered this question previously in interviews; this time, I took a pause and reluctantly revealed I did not know.
I was advancing at my job, but my personal life was drawing me away from New York and back to Washington D.C., where I’m from. I knew that relocating would mean fewer options to work in the advertising and marketing tech space. That left me in the uncomfortable position of having to re-imagine my life, my future, and most importantly, my next career move.
During this time, I received career advice from everywhere and everyone including family, friends, my boss, my uber driver, LinkedIn—and even an Instagram ad. I appreciated everyone’s desire to help. But, all of the input left me with more questions than answers, such as: which jobs would I qualify for, would I have to change my career entirely, and where should I live?
I realized that only I knew my specific and most immediate needs and that the only person who could answer these questions was me. In order to cut through all of the noise, I would need to figure out what I truly wanted out of my career.
This required developing a new framework for thinking about my choices. I began to ask myself questions about what I wanted in my next role, the values I wanted my next team to have, and what my goals were, both big and small.
Now that I’m based in D.C., I’m glad I took the time to check in with myself before finally answering my manager's question—“What are you looking for in your next role?”
Here are three tips on how you can simplify the decision-making process to find a role and company that you love in the next phase of your career.
1. Identify what you are looking for in your next role, career, and company.
With the abundance of career advice (both unsolicited and welcomed), it is important to figure out what you truly want out of your career and next role.
To identify what you are looking for in your next role, career, and company, try answering the following questions:
What qualities in an employer are most important to you?
What would you like more of in your role?
What defines a great company for you?
What are the most important aspects you want in a future role, company, or career?
To answer these questions for myself, I reflected on my past jobs and pinpointed what I loved the most. At my first company, the CEO made it a point to know each person by name and have a true open-door policy. This approach allowed me to be more visible to my leadership team and helped to eliminate workplace bias. When interviewing for jobs in D.C., I was sure to ask questions that let me know whether or not this approach was in place at the job where I was interviewing.
2. Define your ideal company values.
Having the right skills and experience does not always produce happiness or an opportunity to excel at your place of employment. Your skills, mood, and growth can suffer when working in an environment that does not align with your values. This is why defining your ideal company's values (not to be confused with company's culture) is important.
To identify your dream company values, look inward at your personal values. For me, the values I want to share most with my workplace are trust, innovation, and freedom. Then, figure out what those values mean, in practice, at the office.. For example, freedom, for me, represents independence (i.e. not being micromanaged) and a healthy work-life balance).
Defining values will help you look beyond the loveable surface-level perks—catered lunches, beanbags, and beer on tap—to identify the values that guide a company’s decisions and ultimately, an employee’s happiness.
3. Always be intentional about your career goals.
Complacency can be a career killer. During my first job as a Sales Planner, I had a goal to create 25 proposals per quarter. I wanted to develop my career in digital media by learning how to create marketing one-pagers and adding a new practical skill on my resume. In order to do this, my manager and I added two additional goals that quarter:
Creating two case studies per quarter and
Learning how to create Salesforce dashboards, to help the team keep track of their revenue and goal forecast.
I continued this practice into the following quarters, roles and companies.
Intentionality is not just for a transition, like a job change or review. It should be built into a routine practice. Set personal goals outside of company/team assigned goals, get curious about professional development opportunities at your job, and be intentional with your time and effort to put you closer to achieving your career goals.