"Job Hunting"When you don’t know what you’re looking for?

By Carole Martin

As I read through various tweets and blogs — all the experts are talking about what you need to do to get a job. But no one seems to talk about you getting what you need in a job.

Yes, I know that the world is turned up-side down right now and that jobs are scarce, but I also know that being miserable in a job can lead to nasty results. It’s called passive-aggressive in some cases. People “hate” their jobs but can’t afford to lose the job so they just “suck it up” and live through each miserable day. The risk is that someday there may be just one blow too many and you will do something rash and involuntarily lose your job.

You have to ask yourself, “If this were my last year (or week, or month) on earth is this what I want to be doing?”

Ok, it would be worse to go hungry, and worse to be homeless, but it’s also good to have a dream – a goal. Without hope the future is bleak.

When was the last time you did a values check? What is important to you in life? Is the work or your current company’s values in-line with what you value? Are you selling out? What are your goals – short-term and long-term?

A good analogy to think of is signing up for an online dating service. The first thing that you are asked to do is describe what you are looking for. “What are you seeking in a mate?” It makes sense. How are you going to find your mate if you haven’t declared what is important to you?

It’s not that different in a job search. The first question to yourself should be: “What am I looking for in a job?”

Taking some time to think about what is important to you will help you be more selective in where you apply, interview, and hopefully end up working. This exercise will also boost your passion or enthusiasm toward the job and you will be able to answer the question, “Why do you want to work here?

Using interview questions as your guide, try flushing out what is important to you and what is not. In the end, hopefully you will have your own “Wish List” of job requirements.

Question – “When have you been most motivated?”

This question is more than an interview question, it’s a question that you should be asking yourself before the interview. When have you been most satisfied in your work? When did you feel like you were making a difference or making a contribution?

A simple exercise that will help you answer this question will also help you look inside yourself to think about what you “want more of,” and what you “want less of” in your next job. People usually perform at a higher level if they are satisfied with the work that they do – and as a result are more motivated to give 100% – plus.

An Exercise to Find the Answer

Begin by making a list of the tasks at your last or current job – the tasks that you were particularly proud of, or were energized by. In other words, “when your job turned you on.” Think about the last time you were so involved in a project or task that you woke up thinking about how you could improve the situation. Write those experiences down and try to determine what the factors were that were satisfying for you.

Let’s say you were a “Project Leader.” The task list would read something like – “Led a team – Coordinated and monitored project progress – Assured the flow and completion of work on schedule – Monitored expenditures and budget.”

What were the stimulating tasks of this job? Was it the leadership aspect? Or, was it the challenge of coordinating the details, and people? Was it completing the project on time or below budget? Were there customers involved (internal or external) – if so, is that what you found most challenging?

What didn’t you like, and hope that you will do less of in your next job?

After you have written this list for your current job, try doing the same thinking about previous jobs. If you recently graduated from college, use the classes that were most stimulating and interesting for you, or the projects you worked on with teams.

By making lists of motivating experiences from your last two or three jobs, you will hopefully begin to see patterns of projects and tasks that stand out. Analyze what you did before. Do you want more of this type of responsibility in your next job? The answers to these questions will give you the answer to the motivation question as well as possibilities for fulfillment in future jobs that have similar responsibilities.

Take this list of motivating experiences and script an answer to the question, “What motivates you?” Scripting answers prepares you and also makes you sound more confident.

The Perfect Answer

There is no such thing as the “perfect” answer to this question. Your answer will be individual and based on your own satisfactions and dissatisfactions. No one can do this for you. Only you have the answer.

“What is it that you want in your next job?”

Knowing what you want will make you feel more confident about finding the right job. It is guaranteed that if you don’t know what you want, you will probably not know it when it is presented to you.

The Interview Coach, Carole Martin, is a celebrated author, job coach, and speaker on the subject of interviewing and recruiting. Contributing writer at Monster.com and featured on talk radio. Carole is using her proven methods for coaching job seekers on competitive interviewing skills in technical and non-technical industries. Her free Values Exercise can be found at http://www.interviewcoach.com/valuesexercise.html

Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/AceYourInterview

Twitter: http://www.twitter.com/CoachCaroleM