What’s Your Next Step?

I frequently find myself reminding people that “career” is not a noun; it’s a verb. We evolve, the marketplace evolves, the people around us evolve, and the organizations in which we work evolve; nothing about career is static or likely to last forever. Even if a career — such as, doctor, lawyer, fire chief — lasts years and years, the people inhabiting those roles evolve, as do the roles themselves.

It is ”normal” to get tired of whatever it is you are doing, if you are doing the same thing year after year. Instead of interpreting this feeling as negative, why not interpret it as the positive communication it is: Look at how I’ve grown! It must be time to move on. Now let me start thinking about what’s next for me on this next turn on the evolutionary spiral of my life and career. . .

Of course, at this point, I’m going to suggest that you take stock of who you are now — now that you have three or four more years of experience doing whatever you have been doing; now that you have earned more responsibility and/or authority, now that you have expanded your skills, taken more classes, have more confidence, and whatever else that comes to mind. You have so much more to offer now than you ever did in the past!

You can and should also take a good, hard look at all the things you don’t like and that you never want to do again! This can actually be fun because — guess what? — you don’t ever have to do them again if you stick to your metaphorical guns. You don’t have to drag skills around on your resume that you really don’t want to use anymore. Just because you can do something, doesn’t mean you have to keep doing it. I’ve helped many clients get rid of thing on their resumes that they don’t want to do anymore, and to a one, they feel liberated and more authentic.

In a resume, you should be emphasizing the skills you WANT to repeat and de-emphasizing or deleting skills you are tired of or found out you hated. You are not handcuffed to every little thing you ever did. Along this line, you can actually take off your resume short-lived jobs that were just a bad dream. You can shift things from the foreground of your resume to the background or leave them off altogether. You don’t want a suspiciously-spotty resume, but no use talking about irrelevant experiences, like the time you worked as a dealer in Vegas, or as a Santa Claus at Macy’s.

Whatever your “next step” is, it should be a stretch, give you a few butterflies in your stomach, not something completely comfortable or a familiar re-run of the job you just left or are leaving. That’s a sure way to become bored right off the bat. If you are attracted to a certain opportunity that you find on your internet search, what is the automatic narrative that pops in your mind when you feel an inner yes? That could very well tell you what to put in your cover letter and what will be the basis of your interview once you get one. You don’t have to have done the exact same thing in order to get the interview, but you do have to be able to explain why you think this is the right role for you and what in your actual experience and personality has prepared you for this next step.

Go ahead, say it!

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