3 Strategies for Transitioning into a Less Stressful, More Meaningful Career

As a Fortune 100 leadership coach and personal branding strategist for the past 15 years, I help my clients transition into a more meaningful and purposeful career.  And over the past couple of years, I’ve seen a pattern with professionals making the same mistake over and over. Being reactive, instead of proactive, in their career change.

Many professionals who want a new job have a reactive approach, which is immediately diving into scanning internal or external job listings, and then applying to anything that “might work” for their skillset.  Often, the results are dismal and demoralizing.

Earlier in my own career, I used this same approach.  Until one day, I was perusing job openings and became overwhelmed and discouraged by the laundry list of job requirements needed to apply.  The snarky voice inside me said, “I’ll come up with my own CAREER requirements that the JOB has to meet, and then I’ll apply!”

So I did.  And by writing down and getting crystal clear on my career requirements for my next job role, the company, and industry that I really wanted to work in, I landed my new job as Regional Marketing Manager at a Fortune 100 finance company.  I’m not sure whether I manifested, or simply by luck, found and landed each of my future dream jobs, but either way I had less frustration, more motivation, and truly enjoyed the ride of upleveling and re-branding my own career four times.

If you’d like a less stressful, more meaningful career, then I recommend taking these 3 steps –

  1. Identify the industry that best aligns to your career goals. Just because you have a job in a specific industry doesn’t mean you have to stay there.  For example, if you’ve worked in the IT industry for the past 10 years, it doesn’t mean you have to stay in the IT industry.Many skills transfer from industry to industry because almost all companies need great talent with IT, finance, sales, HR, marketing, customer support, data analytics, legal, business operations, project management, and leadership skills.

    I recommend researching different industries, and selecting one that best aligns to your personal values and career goals.  For example, if you want to bring positive change in the world by doing good things for the planet and society, then focus on industries such as healthcare, civil service, or green manufacturing.   If your top priority is having a higher paycheck, then target high paying industries like engineering, healthcare, and legal.  If you’re craving more job security (or need a job quickly) then concentrate on high-growth industries such as IT, telehealth, and technology such as AI and 3D printing.

    Here are two resources to help you research industries: Indeed’s global list of “Fastest Growing Industries”, and the U.S. Chamber of Commerce’s Understanding America’s Labor Shortage: The Most Impacted Industries.

  2. Choose a company that fills you with pride. Making a higher salary may be a priority, but if you’re miserable in your job then it doesn’t matter how much you’re paid. What are your must have requirements for the company and environment where you work?  What kind of company culture and management style are important to you? What about diversity, inclusion, and work/life balance? Does the company sell a product or service that you believe in? Is the company ethical?Make a list of your must-have company requirements. Then, use it to identify your TOP 10 Wishlist of companies where you ultimately would love to work. Check out “World’s Most Innovative Companies” by Fast Company, “Best Companies Ratings” by US News, and Forbes’ World’s Best Employers based on employees’ rankings of professional development, work life balance, and would they recommend the company to their family or friends.

    After you have your Top 10 Wishlist, I recommend bookmarking each company’s career web page (most companies promote job openings on their own website before advertising it on external job boards such as LinkedIn and Indeed) so you can easily check job openings every week.  Also, be sure to connect with their leaders and managers on LinkedIn so that you can engage on their posts and start forming relationships.

    Not only will your personal requirements help you develop a Top 10 Wishlist of companies that you’d ultimately love to work for, but they’ll also help you create questions to ask in your job interviews to help you decide whether the organization is a good fit for you.

  3. Select a job role that inspires you. When you think about a new job, what responsibilities do you want to drive and own? In which area(s) do you want to be the go-to person for expertise and advice?  What kinds of problems do you want to solve? What kinds of products or services do you want to innovate?  Creating a list of job role must-have requirements, allows you to let go of all of the mediocre job openings so you can focus your time and attention on those you really want.It also helps you stand out in your job interviews. One of my clients was recently hired for a Director level position, and asked his new boss why she hired him from all the other job candidates.  She said it was when he said that he liked to “fix chaos and broken teams” that she knew he was the right person.

    Get clear on the responsibilities you want to own, so that you can tailor your resume (and your interview answers) to those skills and results that match your must-have job role requirements. All jobs have days of stress and frustration, but when you’re motivated and energized in your career, you’re better able to manage through the tough days.

It’s your career.  Take ownership and drive it where you want it to go.  By identifying your personal requirements for the industry, company and job role that you really want, you’ll be much more likely to attract and land those opportunities that truly inspire you.