Before You Job Search, Make Sure You Soul Search

Feb 24, 2014 - Joe Matar

Most of us assume the best way to find a job is to look at what’s available in online listings or to follow someone else’s advice. However, these methods often lead to unfulfilling career choices.

You only need to look at the latest job satisfaction surveys to recognize how unfulfilled most workers feel. For seven straight years, The Conference Board has reported that less than half of U.S. workers are satisfied in their careers.

So, what can you do to find job satisfaction and fulfillment while still making a great living?

Uncover your core genius

“Core genius” is the special contribution each of us brings to our professional life. It’s what you’re in this world to do that only you can do. It’s the unique package of skills, experiences, passions, interests, talents, abilities and attitude that you possess.

Take one of my clients, Laura Rolands, for example. Laura was a hardworking human resources executive at Chrysler. She’s also a mom. When her son was diagnosed with ADD (Attention Deficit Disorder), she got to work and investigated how to best help him with attention strategies at school and in life. Through this experience and through our career coaching work together, Laura realized she had a talent and an interest in helping people with attention issues.

It led Laura to start an attention coaching business shortly after accepting a voluntary buy-out from her position in the automotive industry. Her business focuses on coaching people to overcome challenges associate with ADD or ADHD (Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder). Her clients have developed time-saving personal routines and have improved their academic and business performance.

The path to a successful career fit

In 10 years of coaching, I’ve seen that we are each uniquely built to fulfill a specific purpose. However, too often, people take their unique talents for granted. (Click here to tweet this thought.) In fact, the real challenge is that most people have no idea what their purpose is.

I believe the best way to find your purpose — your core genius — is to conduct a formal soul search and get specific about all the elements of your ideal career. It starts with assessing yourself across eight essential dimensions, which include:

  1. your top interests
  2. your key motivators
  3. skills you want to employ
  4. ways you want to contribute
  5. your best qualities
  6. your ideal work environment
  7. activities you enjoy most
  8. salary and benefits you desire

Soul search before you job search

By reflecting on these elements, you can prioritize what’s most important to you and brainstorm career possibilities that match these elements.

In order to discover your core genius, you need to stop looking at want ads and instead start talking to anyone and everyone about the ways you are already of service. Carefully process all of that input, and you’ll see viable new options ahead. Take seriously the value you bring to the table, and believe that you can get paid to deliver it. Let others know about the high-value service you’re prepared to provide, then deliver it consistently and professionally.

Soon, you’ll find you have more than enough work in your new role — and you’ll be making a living while loving what you do.

Are you in touch with your core career strengths? What steps did you take to gain that awareness, and how have you applied it to your career? Share your thoughts in the comments!

CNN dubbed Maggie Mistal “one of the nation’s best-known career coaches.” A former Learning and Development executive at Martha Stewart Living Omnimedia, she has been featured across major media, including NBC’s Today Show, Fox Business, CNN and The New York Times. Connect with Maggie on Twitter, or LinkedIn or Facebook and check out her Soul Search Workbook here.

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