Advice That This Career Coach Can’t Give

Big Changes AheadEvery time I’m asked one of these questions, I cringe. I usually take a deep breath and then the words just tumble out. I ramble on. I never answer these questions the same way twice and I’m embarrassed I don’t have better answers.

I’m not sharing these questions so you won’t ask them of me; I’m sharing them so you can see why career issues are lovely shades of grey.

How long will it take me to find a job?

There’s a formula that floats around that states for every $10,000 you earn in salary, it will take you one month to find a job. (I’ve tried to find the source, but no luck). So, if you earn $70,000 you can expect to have your job search take seven months.

I think a more entertaining approach is to find a dart board. Use the score from best game of four. Add your age. Divide by the number of jobs you’ve had and then add 4 for every additional year of school you’ve had past your first graduate degree. Take number of jobs offers you’ve turned down in past three years and multiple by .45. This number is the number of months it will take you to find new job. JUST KIDDING.

Candid answer: It’s probably going to take longer than you’d like. And longer than you think it should. But it depends on a lot of different factors. Some factors you have control over. Others you will have absolutely no control over. The trick is not to get hung up on the length of time. You can focus on other types of progress (such as building your network) or even using it as a personal growth opportunity and practicing being grounded and centered instead of freaking out (I’m a freaker outer, so this would be good practice for me). I’ve had clients who I thought would be looking for quite a while yet landed a job within a few weeks, and others who I was convinced would find something quickly but ended up in an extended job search.

Bottom line: No one can predict the length of time you’ll spend looking. People will share horror stories about their brother-in-law who just found a job after being out of work for two years (Why is it always a brother-in-law?) People will give you good advice, and they’ll give you lousy advice. Just remember there is no “average” and slow and steady sometimes wins the race.

Is this the right career choice for me?

I get that we all need validation sometimes — confirmation that you’re on the right track and that you’re really NOT crazy because you want something different. I can help you look at whether your personality, motivations, and interests match your career aspirations, and I can even give you some advice based on my experience. But you are the only one that knows what is best for you. Seriously, why do you think career coaches put so much emphasis on self assessment/discovery? You are the only one who can answer this question.

Candid answer: You’re not going to know if it’s the right career choice until you try it. There is no such thing as a perfect career choice. If I had a dollar for every doctor I’ve met that knew they wanted to be a doctor at 5 years of age, but now hates being a doctor, I’d be able to buy a really, really nice pair of shoes. Just move in the direction of what you think you want to do and either you’ll determine it’s a good fit, or you’ll discover something that’s an even better fit. The point is YOU have to make that determination.

Bottom line: Stop using this question as an excuse not to pursue what you really want.

Question: Should I make sure I have another job before quitting my current job?

On a scale of one to 10, please rank how miserable you are at your current job. Is it affecting your life? Is it preventing you from having a better life? Those might be your best clues, right there. I recently asked my online followers if it was dumb to quit a job without having another lined up and guess what? Most of them said no. Except Corey, who said it was extremely liberating. And Emily, who’s planned out her exit for a while. And Steve, who said that he’s done it at least four times and has always landed on his feet.

Candid answer: Planning is great but not always possible. Are you going to ruin your life if you quit a job before having another? Probably not. But you may have some moments of terror and anxiety. And you’ll deal with it. It will also build your confidence in ways you never imagined and that is the super-duper upside.

Bottom line: Trust yourself and keep it all in perspective.

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