Great Resumes Fast » Career » Ask These 5 Questions to Determine Your Next Career Move

Welcome to The 2022 Year of Your Career Series. If you’re considering a career move in 2022, you’re among millions who are quitting their jobs in what has come to be known as the Great Reshuffle. To help you make your next career move amid the influx of talent hitting the job market, I’ve created this series of articles. I’ll be tackling the five questions you need to ask to determine your next career move, the five things you need to complete before you start job searching, the five activities that will jump-start your job search and the five strategies that will boost your results. Together these four articles act as a comprehensive guide to take you from considering a career move to accepting an offer for a perfect-fit position. 

The first article in the series is about the questions you need to ask to evaluate and decide on your next career move. This is the foundation of making a career move. In order to be successful in changing jobs, you need to know where you’re heading. That includes the industry, position, target companies, and their culture as well as understanding your long-term career plan.

Ask These 5 Questions to Determine Your Next Career Move

Am I Doing Meaningful Work?

It’s no secret that we long to find meaning and fulfillment in our life’s work. I hear from job seekers frequently that one of the reasons they’re making a career move is so that they can contribute, do more meaningful work, or feel like they’re making a difference. Before you make a career move, ask yourself how fulfilled you are in your current role. What would bring more meaning and purpose to your work?

Are there certain core values that you hold that aren’t being utilized in your current position? What are they?

If you know what your core values are and what brings you meaning and fulfillment in your work, then you’ll know what to look for when evaluating roles that you’re considering applying to or offers that you receive. 

How Am I Learning and Growing?

Learning and knowledge are two of my core values. I’ve held them since I was young. I always loved school, went on to college and enjoyed it, and have generally become a lifelong learner. I’m always reading some research study, case study, survey, or data about my industry. 

Before you make your next career move, evaluate what you’ve learned recently (there’s probably something there that should be added to your resume!) and what skills and competencies you want to learn next. 

If you have certain competencies you want to master—whether that’s before you take on your next role or in your next role—then you know what you need to prioritize now. For instance, if you’re in the tech industry and you know that a certain technical certification will be a required skill for the role you want to land, then you know you need to prioritize learning that skill now before you make your next career move.

However, if you’ve always wanted to learn a competency that isn’t required for the role but is recommended and the company has a value of learning and growth, chances are good that you’ll be able to learn that new skill in the role. 

What’s Next?

HBR recommends asking yourself “What do I want in my (work) life in three to five years?” Three to five years is a more manageable block of time then, say, 10 years. And, it also gives you a basis to evaluate opportunities that come your way. If you know where you want to be in five years and a recruiter approaches you about a role and it’s not going to move you closer to your five-year plan, then you can make an informed decision about the role instead of passively accepting it and ending up wherever it takes you. What you don’t want is to come to the end of your career and wonder how you got there, or worse, realize this isn’t where you wanted to be.

You need to be intentional about your career path. This means knowing the industry, position, and companies you want to target before you start your job search. 

You can’t write an effective resume without a specific industry and position in mind. And, you really need to know three things: the industry, the position title, and the types of companies you want to target so that your resume can be laser-focused. Employers want to hire specialists, not generalists. If you write a general resume, you won’t get interviews for the types of roles that you want. You’ll likely end up with a mishmash if you get interviews and they won’t be helping you get closer to your three- to five-year goal. 

If you’re really stuck, consider working with a career coach for clarity or taking some online assessments if you need career direction or want to change careers. I’m working with a job seeker right now who spent 20 years in the military, then another 10 as an entrepreneur running his own fitness company. He’s ready for a career change but isn’t quite sure the next best step for him. I’m working with him to help him determine what type of role would align with his values, use his strengths, and bring him meaning and purpose. 

If you’re considering a move, ask yourself similar questions. What type of role would align with my values? What are my strengths? What type of role would use my strengths? What type of work would bring my life meaning and purpose?

You could also reach out to people who are in the roles that you’re considering and ask for an informational meeting. You can ask questions like:

  • How did you get to where you are in your career?
  • What do you like most about your career?
  • What skills/competencies are most needed for this role?
  • What soft skills / people skills are most needed for this role?
  • What brings you meaning and fulfillment in this role?

If you ask a couple of different people these questions, you’ll get a good idea of what you can expect and then you can make an informed decision if that is the direction you want to take. 

What Relationships Need to Be Built?

Your network is your most valuable career resource. It’s an ongoing part of your long-term career management. Most people think of networking as an activity that you do when you’re job searching and the rest of the time they neglect it. However, building relationships is essential to your long-term career advancement and really, it’s to other people’s benefit, too. Building relationships is not one-sided. It needs to be win-win, and relationships take time to build. Instead of thinking of networking as an icky activity that only happens when you need something or want to ask for help, think of it as a way to support other people in their careers. 

The last question and this question go hand in hand. If you know the direction you want your career to take in the next three to five years, then you can start building relationships now. For instance, if you’re in sales but you know you want to transition to education yet your network is made up of other sales professionals, then you start finding and connecting with people in the education industry now. If you’re in the military and when you retire you want to transition into the supply chain, then you know you need to start connecting with people in that industry well ahead of your transition. 

Make a list of everyone you know. You know way more people than you realize. Think about people you come into contact with during the normal course of the day outside of your colleagues. Your kid’s friends, your dentist, accountant, lawyer, bank tellers, delivery drivers, neighbors, ball park parents, extended family—all the people we don’t usually think of as part of our network because we are usually only thinking of people in our industry. 

The neat thing about networking, though, is that when you connect with one person your network expands to everyone they know and they may know someone who can help you or that you can help.

Once you have your list of your network and you know where you want to go in the next three to five years, you can see where you need to build and strengthen your connections. HBR recommends asking yourself “Where am I over-invested? Where am I under-invested?” 

A practical tip to help you build and strengthen your network in areas that need it is to find and connect with three people per week on LinkedIn. If you’ve always dreamed of working for Cedar-Sinai one day, you could go to their LinkedIn company page, click on the People tab, and see who you already know, who would be a second-degree connection, and you could send an invitation to connect. Three connections a week is a modest number. You could always increase that if you want to be more aggressive expanding your network.

I also recommend searching for news in your industry on LinkedIn. You can type in your industry, filter by posts, and see who is talking about news in your industry. Then, you can follow or connect with them. It’s good to be connected with people who are actively creating conversations on LinkedIn because then you can engage with their posts, support their work, and build relationships quicker. It’s harder to build a relationship with someone that isn’t as active on LinkedIn unless you purposely reach out and connect off-platform.

What Long-Term Plans Need to Be in Place?

While you may be thinking about your next career move—the one you want to make today—you also need to be thinking about the long game. Career management is ongoing. You continually work at managing your career, always with the next steps and future goals in mind. 

What seeds do you need to plant now that you can harvest later?

Are there technical, professional, or academic skills that would help you meet your three- to five-year career plan?

Is there a mentor that you can connect with who can advise you on the best path forward?

What language could you learn to help you land that international role you’ve always desired?

When and where do you need to speak up to let the right people know you’re interested in a promotion?

Who can you help right now? They may or may not be able to pay it back one day, but you’re planting seeds. Not all of them will produce fruit but some may and you won’t really know which ones until the time comes.

Most of the questions and tips I’ve offered are directed towards long-term career management. These are things you can think about and ask yourself throughout your career, not just when you’re ready to launch a job search. You may already know the role you want next, but these questions can help you evaluate if the next step you’re considering will be the right fit for you. 

One last tip: Remember when you’re considering your next career move, it’s important to ask yourself if the type of role you want aligns with your core values, uses your strengths, and brings you meaning and purpose. These self-reflection questions will help you ensure you’re on the right track with your next move. 

Thanks for reading! Want more job search and resume tips? Check out these 6 free resources on my website that have helped more than 25,000 job seekers land their next job.

You might also like the other articles in our 2022 The Year of Your Career Series:

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About the author

Jessica Hernandez, President, CEO & Founder of Great Resumes Fast

Hi, I’m Jessica. I started this company back in 2008 after more than a decade directing hiring practices at Fortune 500 companies.

What started as a side hustle (before that was even a word!) helping friends of friends with their resumes has now grown into a company that serves hundreds of happy clients a year. But the personal touch? I’ve kept that.

You might have seen me featured as a resume expert in publications like Forbes, Fast Company, and Fortune. And in 2020, I was honored to be named as a LinkedIn Top Voice of the year!

I’m so glad you’re here, and I can’t wait to help you find your next perfect-fit position!

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