Like a lot of people, I have found the process of job searching pretty soul destroying at times. Half of the difficulty is that you generally spend hours on each application, only to revive no reply, or a rejection. If you get accepted to the testing stage, you have the pleasure of sitting a number of questions that are the degree level equivalent of the 11+ (for my non UK readers, that’s an exam that 11 year olds sit in order to get into one of the very few Grammar schools in the country), only this time, you get seconds to answer each question! If you pass them, it’s onto the hours of preparation required for a video interview, then normal interview, and maybe an assessment centre, depending on the company you’re applying to. So it’s extremely draining, and the ratio of effort to success seems pitifully low.
However, you’ll notice that I mentioned that this was only half the difficulty. The reason for this is because I believe there is another issue when it comes to applying for jobs; which jobs would you be happy to do? I am someone who has had a tremendous passion for my subject since I was 17, so ever since then, I’ve been pretty confident about what I wanted to do. But as my final year of university has come and gone, things have become a little more complicated. The companies I was most keen on rejected me pretty much immediately, and the smaller companies that specialise in my field of interest had no current vacancies. All 30 of them.
So, around December, I hit a point where I realised I was going to have to be more flexible. And this is where vision statements come in. I think they are an American idea, but if they are used in the UK, it seems to be more for companies who are looking at their future goals. I wanted to adapt this for my own personal career.
I found a piece of paper, found some coloured pens and started writing. Here are some of the things I included:
- A list of things I want most out of life. Whether this be to travel, a cat, 7 cats, a high paying job or to live with your significant other, try to look at the bigger picture and not just include your career goals. Ultimately, it’s the ability to do (or not be able to do) these things that will help you realise whether a job is suitable for you.
- My results from the Belbin Test. If you ever get the opportunity to take this test, I really recommend it. The idea is to answer a series of questions about your workplace behaviour. From your answers, the system will let you know your role within a team and let you know your strengths and weaknesses.
- Next, I looked at the following list, and allowed myself to pick only three things that were important to me.
- Material rewards
- Personal recognition
- Free time
This is by no means an exhaustive list, but it should start to give you an idea of your priorities.
- I made a table of ‘Do want’ and ‘Don’t want’. To give you an example, my ‘Do wants’ were:
- Job security.
- Variability in job role.
- My opinion to be valued.
- Enough time off to persue hobbies.
- Ability to progress.
- Location not too far from family and friends.
My ‘don’t wants’ included:
- A long commute to work.
- To be ‘part of the scenery’.
- Purely research related work.
- I made a list of things that make me unique. This was useful in that it reminded me what I have to offer companies – it’s not just about what they can do for me.
- I answered the following three questions:
- What are the things you want to be true in your life?
- Reasons why it isn’t true at the moment.
- What are the obstacles?
This was probably one of the most enlightening parts of the vision statement for me. I realised that my true desire was to have a stable, interesting job that paid enough to lead a comfortable life and plan for the future, whilst being flexible in the present. Once I understood this, it became clear that finding a company that specialises in what I studied at university wasn’t the priority. Solution? I needed to unsubscribe from generic job websites and broaden my search.
It worked a treat. I’m still coming across jobs that interest me and will fulfill me, but I no longer have the pressure of searching within a specific sector!
- Finally, I included a priority chart. You can choose any categories you like, but the following example chart looks at:
- Significant other
- Self care
- Persuit of a specific career
- Personal (professional) growth
And that’s it. I was surprised at how much my outlook changed once I created a vision statement – if you’re not quite sure what jobs to look at, or if you’re not sure whether a certain job is right for you, I really suggest creating one for yourself.