Are you putting the cart before the horse?

Are you feeling like you need to get out of your current job situation? Perhaps you are employed, and feel like you don’t know how you’re going to make it just one more day. Or maybe you are between jobs, and feel like you need to get back to work immediately, if not sooner.

Kate attended one of my resume workshops. Kate hated her current job and wanted out. She would describe for everyone what she hated, why she hated it, and what she wanted to get away from. When pressed, she could list some of her strengths and interests. She knew some attributes of the environment she wanted. Though she often described them in the negative. Instead of “collaborative small teams” she would say “not competitive” and “not too big, but not working alone all the time.”

Kate wanted help with her resume, thinking if she phrased things just right, she’d attract the right job for her. The problem for Kate was she could not articulate what she wanted to move toward in her next job. She could only say what she wanted to get away from.

Kate wanted to start at the end. But the reality is there is a 3-stage process you must go through to get a job you love. You can’t skip steps; you have to complete each stage.

Stage 1 is the Unearth Stage. This is where you identify your strengths, skills, values, and passions. If you think of the search for a job and career you love as a puzzle, the Unearth Stage is where you gather up all the pieces. Put them all out on the table and turn them over (picture side up). This is where you identify what you can do, what you love to do, and where you love to do it. This is the stage where you gather them all together in one place, where you can look at them.

Stage 2 is the Imagine Stage. Once you’ve gathered all the pieces together, you start playing with how they might fit. You don’t have the box top with a picture of what the finished puzzle is supposed to look like. So you try out different combinations. You sort through all the pieces from the Unearth Stage, and begin to put together the picture of your Ideal Work Life. You decide what’s more important , what’s less important and what is irrelevant. You may end up with some extra pieces, but that’s ok. When you finish the Imagine Stage, you will have a completed puzzle picture of what your Ideal Job looks like.

Stage 3, the Create Stage, is when you will move to the practical realm. Now that you have a clear picture of what you want, you can describe what you desire to move toward. Now you can develop your own targeted job search strategy to secure the job or career you want. It will be so much easier to develop your tools: branding statement, resume, cover letter, interview prep, networking strategies, and so forth. Now you can go after the job you want.

Kate was frustrated because she hadn’t finished Stage 1, and wanted to jump right to Stage 3. That’s putting the cart before the horse. She was doing a lot of work without getting results this way. Kate was focused on leaving her current situation. By the time she completed the three stages, Unearth, Imagine, and Create, she was hot on the trail of a job she would love .

What stage are you in? Are you moving from? Or moving toward?

1 comment to Are you putting the cart before the horse?

  • Hello there! This post couldn’t be written any better! Reading this post reminds me of my old room mate! He always kept chatting about this. I will forward this article to him. Pretty sure he will have a good read. Thanks for sharing!

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Client Stories

I hired Lori because I was feeling stuck in my job and needed to find a career that was more rewarding, more challenging, and more suited to me.  In the arts, it's difficult to find a job you enjoy that also pays enough to live on, but Lori helped me do just that! 

As we worked together, Lori always helped give me that extra nudge when I was having trouble taking the next step toward success and acknowledged and applauded me when I accomplished something that I'd been struggling with. 

Thanks to Lori, I got out of my 8-year rut at the same job and discovered a new career I love that brings me all of the things I want in a job--creativity, variety, challenge, learning, flexibility, teamwork, and cake.  With no professional experience but a desire to learn, Lori helped me find ways to become a cake decorator--first on my own and then, eventually, at a reputable cake shop.  Now, something I used to do just for fun has become something I make my living doing, and each workday flies by!

Emily Sweeney, Chicago, IL