Throughout my work week, I receive many emails and phone calls from people interested in making a career move or looking for work. Most of these people know what they want, at least, vaguely… because of where they’ve been. Occasionally, however, I run into someone that needs a little coaching to direct them on what they’re looking for. This is fine with me.  I really enjoy coaching people and helping them develop a career path.

Every once in a while though… I run along someone that will drive me crazy. Lucky for me, this happened Friday. I received a phone call from a woman interested in chatting with me to plot her next career jump. She had heard of me through word of mouth and had some interesting expectations of me. For the sake of my story and her privacy, we will call this woman Joan.

Joan called my office and stated that she had been in the insurance business for the last 30 years. She was still working with an insurance firm but knew that her time was limited as they were experiencing grave financial issues. She was interested in making a change. She went on to say that she had heard the best candidates are those that are still employed and seeking. I’d like to pause with Joan for a second and say… THIS IS CORRECT! The most sought after candidates are those still working. If you’re thinking that a ride on the unemployment check wagon is going to be good for you…a sabbatical of sorts, you’re committing suicide on your career. Don’t understand? Click here for the skinny.

Anyway, I asked Joan what she was interested in doing next. What her expectations were of me. She began a very long and nebulous explanation of her new ambitions (I am summarizing for you..thank me later)::

  • something in management
  • something that would utilize her Masters of Business
  • something where she could lead teams
  • something she enjoyed
  • something fast paced but enjoyable
  • something in Portland – no moving
  • something with other people
Great. I explained to her that all of that said absolutely nothing. I asked her to try again and with a bit of guidance, I figured she would get a little closer to the goal of telling me her focus… Perhaps an industry or specific type of position…

The more I coached her, the more she stuck to her guns with the seven interests above. You obviously see the problem with this, correct?? As much as she said, she was telling me nothing. She was being completely obscure. And, unfortunately, this is more common than not.

People are scared to “corner” themselves within a position or industry. They think that narrowing their wants will eliminate floods of opportunity.  This is correct to a limited degree but unless you create a professional identity, people won’t have a clue where to put you. It is not my job or anyone else’s to create your career.

If you are going to seek out assistance in your next career move, that’s great. You just better have an idea of what you want. ANY IDEA! I explained to Joan that she need to figure out her passions..whether it be gardening, cooking, living green, sports, non-profits, planning events… whatever.  She then needed to take that main passion and align it with her skills.

Again, you must take your passion and align it with your current skills. This will land you in a direction that will feel purposeful. Once you’re able to create a path of purpose, you will become far more satisfied with your work and you will feel invigorated to push forward. Next, completely emerge yourself within that industry. Learn as much as you can about it. Become a “Go-To” for the latest information within your industry.

I’ll use myself in this example. For a long time, I was an accountant/tax preparer. I was the guy in the back of the office, all alone, crunching numbers. For me personally, this was a disaster. I’m a people maniac. I love talking tax but I hate preparing tax returns. I mean, I REALLY love talking tax. The hair on my skin rises and I get really excited when someone wants to talk to me about their taxes. The same with accounting. I absolutely love meeting small business owners and looking at their current situation, establishing their pain points and working on solutions for them. It excites me. I’m extremely passionate about helping people and discovering their needs. I LOVE IT.. figuring out what the company needs is my thing — not actually doing the work.

This led me to staffing. It’s ideal for me and exactly aligned with my passions. All day, I get to talk tax and business with companies. Then, on the flip side, I get to find people to do the work. Because I’m so passionate, I’m very successful. I know what I’m talking about and I enjoy it. People enjoy talking to me and feel like I’m able to provide those once scarce solutions.

Understand?? Align your passions with your skills… and LIVE A PURPOSEFUL LIFE.

You deserve it.