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Time to Decide What’s Next in Your Career? Don’t Fall Into These 3 Traps

Time to decide what's next in your career_ Don't fall into these 3 traps

Maybe you know it’s time to decide what’s next in your career.

If so, congrats.

And, a warning.

Deciding what’s next comes with gaping-jawed bear traps, into which even the smartest, most talented and careerstrong people fall.

Let’s mark them on the map now so you don’t lose a limb.


Psst–my Ultimate Checklist to Better Decisions at Work is designed to keep you out of these  traps and more.

Download it here for free

Three Traps to Avoid If You’re Ready to Decide What’s Next In Your Career.

Trap #1: Worrying About Your Resume

You’re a modern professional living in the real world.

So stop living in the old days when it comes to your career.

In the old days, the resume was the top dog, the cat’s meow–pick your animal metaphor. No one had any tools to learn more about who you are or what you’ve done other than a carefully formatted 8 1/2 x 11 piece of paper that came through the postal mail or in person via your hot li’l hands.

Your resume is a relic of those old days. At the risk of offending a multi-million dollar industry of resume writers,  it’s just NOT as important anymore.

It’s a trap: a time sucking, energy wasting, and focus pulling waste.

We fiddle with our resumes because it feels safe.

It feels like we’re “doing something.”

doing something-decide what's next in your career

But we’re not.

What we’re actually doing is hiding.

You can do better.

Here’s what to do instead.

Before you even dig out your last resume, answer these questions:

  • Who am I at my very best?
  • What are my values?
  • What is my long-term vision for my work and my life?
  • What’s my ideal environment?
  • What are my strengths and superpowers?
  • What are all the things I really want in the next chapter of my life at work?

If you can’t yet answer those questions, spend your time there, now. (For guided help to get this done fast, check out my on-demand course, Create Career Clarity.)

If you don’t know those answers, your resume will only point you toward more of what’s NOT working now.

Will you eventually want a resume? Maybe, although LinkedIn matters much more today.

But spend your time now to get clear about who you are and what you want, and don’t waste time worrying about your resume. When it’s time, you’ll have all the information to get it done fast–and forget it.

Trap #2: Surfing Online Job Boards & Thinking “There Are No Jobs For Me Out There.”

Part of your brain knows this fact: most jobs are never posted online.

But for some reason, the other part of your brain–the part of your brain that wants life to be clean and easy and obvious–keeps telling you there’s the perfect opportunity “out there” online.

And all you have to do is keep digging, and digging, and digging.

And for some reason, you listen to that annoying part of your brain, and you come up empty.

You don’t discover any job listings that sound like you.

Or, you see listings that sound like you a couple steps ahead of where you are, or a couple back.

And your unsuccessful digging makes you believe that the answer to “what’s next for my career” is NOTHING. STAGNATION. BLACK HOLE.

deciding whats next in your career--don't go into black hole

Breathe.

Of course, this is just not true.

It’s a trap.

Here’s what to do instead.

Go ahead, satisfy your brain and spend 30 minutes setting up some alerts on major job boards, especially LinkedIn and any industry-specific or regionally targeted job boards (for example, your professional trade association or your local Chamber of Commerce if you want to stay in your community.)

When the 30 minute timer goes off, leave it be.

And get focused on building your relationships.

Because people don’t hire resumes. People hire people.

Talking to real people is the only way to discover what could be next.

(Get my free planning guide here, “How to Network While You Work.”)

Which leads us to the final trap.

Trap #3: Keeping Your Thoughts To Yourself

Too often, when we’re deciding what’s next in our career, we treat it like a secret.

We’re afraid to engage others, lest they think we’re being disloyal, greedy, or problematic.

We might share our thoughts with a few close friends and family. Our thoughts might waffle and swirl as we consider options and possibilites, but we never land on a peaceful place.

And on the outside, we pretend that we’re just fine, thank you very much.

are you fine--deciding what's next in your career

That’s not honest, and frankly, it’s not working for you.

Here’s what to do instead.

It’s absolutely appropriate for smart, successful professionals like you to engage your leaders, colleagues and business associates in conversation about what’s next.

In fact, it’s the ONLY way change can happen.

When you engage in conversations inside your organization, you can open doors to change that you never anticipated or expected. (Read “How to Find a Job in A Surprising Place: Your Company”  and find phrases and strategies to use for safe and effective internal conversations.)

When you reach out to talk to people outside your organization, you’re inviting people in to your discovery process. Their ideas, experiences and connections mingle with yours to create opportunities you never would have known about on your own.

(For scripts to reach out to people, read “I’ve Written the Networking Emails So You Can Start Now.”)

The truth is that there’s nothing wrong with thinking about what’s next. What’s next doesn’t have to mean “I’m unhappy”–it can just mean “I’m ready to grow.”

When you’re honest about exploring what’s next in your career, you take back control.

And when you have control again, you stay out of the traps. Then, deciding what’s next in your career is easier than ever.