Welcome to “Dear Dana”, our weekly column to give you career and workplace advice/coaching. Please write in and tell me about a career challenge or frustration you’re facing at the office! – Dana Theus
Currently, I am working for a software company that makes software for the public sector. I have my bachelors degree in business administration with a concentration in management. I have been at this company for 3 and a half years, with 1 promotion since I’ve been here. I am currently thinking that it might be time to take the next step with my career, but not sure where to go. I like the technical aspect of my job, but being on the phone with clients all day, doing some of the same things over and over, is getting to be stressful. Would like to look for a more analytical role. The department I am in has little if any room for growth, and there are no openings in other departments. Have taken a test at the state with my names on a few lists, but no luck so far. Any insight into the next career move would be greatly appreciated. – Itchy in Ithaca
It sounds to me like your current experience has been a good one and positions you well for your next step. The fact that you’re fairly clear on what it is about your current position that you like and don’t like is really good because it will help you focus on taking your next step. It’s also good that you’re not miserable and ready to “take anything that comes along.” This gives you time to plot out a move to your “perfect job,” which increases the likelihood you’ll really enjoy your next position. Getting clear on WHY you want to move on and WHAT you’re looking for will really help smooth the process.
I know you don’t feel like there’s growth opportunity where you are now, but things can change so you owe it to yourself and your employer to talk to them about the kinds of things you’d like to do more of. Maybe they have a task force or something you can participate in to grow your skills and gain more visibility with your employer? You may still end up moving elsewhere but be sure you’re taking advantage of all opportunities internally while you’re working on your next step.
What do you mean by “taken a test at the state?” If you mean you’ve taken tests that allow you to apply for public sector jobs, then I get it. If not, please explain. You should know, though, that only about 2% of online applications result in jobs, so the fact that you’ve not heard back on any of them isn’t terribly surprising. Most jobs are landed through networking, and the online application is just a necessary part of a larger process.
At the stage you’re at in your career search now – identifying that it’s time for a move and what you do/don’t like about your current position – I recommend you spend some time thinking carefully about what kind of job will really get you excited as your next step. This means not just the job itself but thinking through what kind of job you need in your life right now. Depending on what demands you have on your life OUTSIDE your work, the job itself might look a little different. Knowing what your life demands of your job will help you focus on what the “perfect job” for you might be. It will take some research, and we recommend writing your own “perfect job description” to help you focus.
Once you have your perfect job description clearly in your mind, it’s much easier to tailor your resume, network and apply online for jobs that you can feel confident you’re qualified for and that you’d really enjoy. Networking in particular is easier when you are clear on what kind of job will be “just right.” You mention that you’d like something more analytical. This means researching what kind of jobs you’re qualified for that require more analysis and less client-facing work. What are they called? What department head’s do they report to? What kind of experience makes someone successful in those jobs? This is the kind of clarity you need to research so when you’re talking to people you can easily articulate what you’re looking for and they’ll have a better time advising you and introducing you to people who can help you.
We have resources here that can help you get started with this process (free and paid). Check out these two sections of our InPower Coaching Career Center for insights:
I just want to reiterate that you’re in a good situation and you’re wise to be considering your next step so thoughtfully. Thanks and let me know how it goes!
P.S. – Have a question you’d like anonymous support on? Write me!