Equipping yourself for the job hunt (pt. 2)

Continuing my last entry, this post is meant to share some of the valuable information that I’ve received from my mentor, to help me figure out what I want to do with my life after MIM, and how to go about getting there.  While the last post dealt mainly with the means to getting a job (how to track down the job of best fit for you, and then present yourself in the best possible light), this is aimed at creating a guide to finding your ideal job.  Let’s face it, it’s rare to actually land your dream job right out of the gate – we’ve all had to work jobs that we weren’t thrilled about, or found jobs that have redirected our career goals.  In fact, even though we’ve been there before, it’s not out of the question that we’ll end up there again (hopefully not for long, though).  This set of advice is meant to help you chart out and plan for these less exciting jobs, and hopefully help you leverage those jobs as stepping stones to more interesting and fulfilling opportunities.

From what I’ve been told, all jobs can be broken down into four categories:

  • Survival jobs
  • Interim jobs
  • Transitional jobs
  • Ideal work

Now, these four types of jobs are laid out in ascending order of preference, with “survival jobs” being those that we’d rather forget, and “ideal work” being where we want to end up.  These kinds of jobs can be described as follows, and have the attached “recommended” time of employment to insure steady career growth:

  • Survival jobs – what you need to do to get by and pay the bills.  Likely, these jobs have nothing to do with your career goals, but you’ve gotta do what you’ve gotta do.  In a perfect world, you’ll never have to have one of these jobs (especially after MIM), but if you do have one, try to keep it to 3 months, with a 6 month max.
  • Interim jobs – while maybe not on the right track to getting you to doing what you really want to do, these jobs help you understand for yourself your own work preferences.  Again, you’re doing this mostly to pay the bills, and gain some experience for bigger and better things.  Ideally, you’ll try to keep this to a 6 month and an 18 month range.
  • Transitional jobs – you’re headed in the right direction!  While not perfect, these jobs help you gain the skills and knowledge that you need for your ideal job.  It’s likely that these jobs are in the same field as what you really want, and are potentially with the same firm that you may want to work for.  Plan on 18 months to two years at these kinds of jobs.
  • Ideal work – you did it!  You’re at your ideal job!  But, even though you’ve made it, it’s likely that your goals and interests will change, so don’t expect to spend the rest of your life here.  It’s suggested that you prevent yourself from burnout, and stagnation, after five years here, you should think about moving on.

There you have it – your career path, all laid out for you!  If only it were that easy.  I know that the road to your dream job isn’t so formulaic, but for me, I found this useful in framing jobs that I’ve done in the past with my expectations for jobs I can look for now.  Most importantly, I know that I don’t want to burn out on a job, so the suggested timeframes that my mentor provided me with for each job type really help me to put things into perspective.  This about wraps up my two-part mentor-driven career building blog post.  Do you have any interesting advice or anecdotal career story?  We’d love to hear it!



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