Shift out of anxiety and into adventure in your job search.

Humans are creatures of habit. We get an idea in our heads about what we want or don’t want and scan the landscape with that measuring stick firmly in hand. It’s very easy to miss new possibilities when this creates ‘inattentional blindness’ – the inability to see something that’s right in front of us if we’re looking for something else.

Try shifting gears out of the mindset of finding a specific position or employer and into the mindset of self-discovery – what new ways can you design your life around things that matter most to you?

  1. Really question what kind of work could make you happy. We end up in our lines of work for a wide variety of reasons. Sadly, many of them are tied more to cultural ideas and outside pressures than they are to our true selves. Okanagan College’s website has resources to help you think creatively about career fit. The website GoodReads.com has a massive collection of titles that will provoke lateral thinking in the trajectory of your career.
  2. Research other types of work tied to your degree. If you have a degree, you may be surprised to find out how many different kinds of work are done by others with a similar education. The University of Manitoba has created a handy summary of degree and occupation information.
  3. Can you have more of a life while living on less? Let’s face it – a massive percentage of our income is spent on just having the job that gives us that income. Commuting, parking, wardrobe, buying meals out because we’re too busy…. A growing number of savvy professionals are choosing to do simpler, more fun, less stressful work and shifting their lifestyles to need less money. A well-known blogger, Mr. Money Moustache, asserts that “you can create a life that is better than your current one, that just happens to cost 50-75% less.” Spend some time exploring the concept of minimalist living; you may be inspired and excited by the idea that less is more.
  4. Okay, back to the job search – applying for jobs that look out of synch with your resume. Your resume says that you’re a rocket engineer, but you want to work in a vineyard; now what? Sharpen your pencil and get creative. You have to connect the dots between your actual skills and aptitudes and what a particular employer is looking for.

This is both a product assessment (you’re the product) and a marketing exercise. If you know you have the drive and aptitude for working in a vineyard, but have zero experience, look for ways to build it without actually having the job. For example, seek volunteering opportunities, courses and weekend workshops. Consider self-educating about the field, which gives you the right language and concepts as you write cover letters and converse with prospective employers.

And remember: you probably do already have some of the skills they are looking for. For each employer, examine their stated priorities and values and use your experiences to show how you have aptitude in those areas even though you gained them in a different field. Life and work experience is more transferrable than we might first assume.

The easiest time to discover a positive change is when we are tossed out of our comfortable ruts. The excitement of an adventure is only a small shift from the anxiety of uncertainty – make the leap!

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