5 Things Young Ambitious Executives Do To Get Work They Want

It hit me on a Thursday night in May 2014, more subconsciously than consciously: I will quit my job. Main reason? This inner voice that said, “this job is not for me”. At that time, I was doing pretty good – a successful strategy consultant. But something was missing. What started on the subconscious level, quickly turned into the question of: “Ok, but what next?” That was a much harder question to solve.

When we founded WYW we recognized that what I experienced is “the norm”: 44% of Millennials expect to leave their current job in the next 2 years – 1 out of 2 persons “on the go”!

Where to? Work that they really want to do: 5 out of 10 Americans would quit their current job for their ideal job, even if it meant less pay.

Why does work you want matter so much? You spend almost half of your waking hours (41%) at work or thinking about work – why not spending it on something that you think is worthwhile doing? In the US (57%) and UK (46%) of the people said that work defines who they are, is part of their identity. Doing work you want makes you happier and more motivated. It gives you a purpose, a “why?” that gets you up in the morning. Even more, people that do what they love, are more successful and make more money.

But how do you find the work you want? If you are “1 out of 2” searching work you really want to do, keep on reading.

Because in the following lines we will explain 5 things that people did to get work they want. It is based on our extensive WYW research and our very own lived experiences.

Discover your “what?”

At WYW we are convinced that you have to have clear what you want to do – and if not, it is the first thing you need clarity on. Your “what?” determines everything else.

Key question is, how to get there? There is a lot of inspiring content. Amy Gallo gives some great advice on building a meaningful career. Or take Mark Manson’s beautiful blog post about life purpose. In our WYW courses we use lots of material to help you answer that question. You just need to answer it.

The blog 80,000hours gives a good summary about work you should want: Work you’re good at, work that helps others, and supportive conditions like engaging work that lets you enter a state of flow, supportive colleagues, and work that fits your personal life.

In all WYW programs we make it even more concrete. For example, which industry do you want to work in? Sustainable energy, autonomous vehicles, water management, fintech, or …? If no industry specifically attracts you, then which environment of an industry do you like. Pioneering? Innovation? M&A?

There is no right or wrong, there is only what you want. We see often that getting to “what?” takes time, often at least 3 months. And you will find yourself refining afterwards as you add experiences.

Clarify your “why?”

Understanding what you want to do, is not always easy (at least it was not for me!). Then, finding that dreamjob is not easier. Finally, once you found it, how to get it, is often a challenge.

Meaning, going for your dreamjob, is not an easy undertaking. It takes time, energy, and will.

To help you through the “rough” times and nevertheless keep on going, it is important to know your “why”. Is it a purpose you want to follow, is it time that you want to use more meaningful? Make more money? Spend time with people that inspire you?

It does not really matter what it is. It needs to be clear for you what makes it worthwhile to pursue your dream of doing work you love. Simon Sinek’s famous Ted talk and page “start with why”makes this point perfectly. Inspire yourself by defining, why you want to do this. Amy Gallo makes this point clear in her article on how to build a meaningful career: First define what meaningful means for you. Legacy? Mastery? Freedom? Alignment? Work life balance (nice food for thought by former Google CFO)?

Build on what you are good at

Have a look at Cal Newport’s book: So good they can’t ignore you. The main essence of the book is: Capital Trumps Courage. Today’s job advice many times hinges into “have the courage to follow your passion” painting the picture of how people end up with fantastic lifes.

But reality is different. Great careers build on that you become great at something. That takes time – not seldom 10.000 hours, as  Malcolm Gladwell writes in “Outliers – The Story of Success”. Hence, treasure what you are good at, be aware of it, and confident to state it.

In our many mentoring WYW sessions, we made the experience that many people rarely give themselves credit for what they have done until now. Take for example a plant engineer, who wanted to go into a senior project manager role that would involve managing people. The first version of his CV showed only technical experience, but not that he had managed 50 people and recruited 20 people into new positions – across 2 continents. Asking him, why it was not included he said: Oh, I did not think of that. Guess what version 2.0 of his CV said!

Tap into your network

When I started my job search, someone told me – go out, talk to people!

It was one of the best advices I got. I ended up contacting >60 and interviewing >30 people. The notebook I filled still serves me as a source of wisdom. An example: Matthias S. – I had met him at university, but for 10 years we had not been in contact. Through LinkedIn I could see that he had taken a career path that seemed interesting: Working in a portfolio company of a private equity fund, later joining the fund. I reached out to him directly, we set up a 20min skype call which lasted >>1 hour. He told me about his path, what he liked and did not like … and connected me with 2 more people.

These are exactly the types of encounters we at WYW recommend you look for. Use your network to tap into people’s experiencesIt accelerates learning, like a time travel into a potential future.

Be conscious about how large your network is – friends and family, alumni associations, …  leverage social media like LinkedIn. We are still surprised how little social media is still unexplored amongst young jobseekers.

Go step by step

When I decided to look for a new job – my first reaction was: I have to update my CV and start sending applications! And my LinkedIn profile to be found by headhunters!

Many of us at WYW started with that idea. After mentoring >100 people, updating the CV is one of the later things we do with our mentees. Instead, to get you work you want, we follow a simple, step wise process:

  • Step 1: Discover what you want to do and why
  • Step 2: Identify the work you want in concrete job posts and develop a strategy to get it
  • Step 3: Send tailored applications on the job posts and prepare for the interviews

Why follow this process? You multiply the chances to end up doing work you wantYou maximize chances to be happier, more motivated, and inspired. You are much more likely ending up making more money. We see in your research: if you do not follow the process, you are very unlikely to ever get to work you want.

Of course, it is much easier to mass-market your CV and call a headhunter so that she matches you to a job she wants you to do. But we thought you take life into your own hands?

So, 5 things to keep in mind to get the work you want: Discover your what, clarify your why, build on what you are good at, tap into your network, and apply a clear strategy.

Don’t wait on getting work you want, but get started today:

  • Write down the 3 things that make work meaningful to you and compare it against your current job. Happy?
  • Write down all positive job feedback from last year – see something you can build on?
  • Reach out to 1 contact TODAY that does a job you find exciting – invite them for a coffee to listen what their experience is!

Come back and tell us below about what you found out – I bet you’ll have something to say!

Also, check out our Online Tutorials and our 1:1 Mentoring to get you work you want.

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