If you’ve been stuck in a job that doesn’t give you a strong sense of purpose, the start of the new year is a perfect time to get unstuck and pursue a career you truly enjoy.
And no, that concept isn’t a pipe dream. It’s actually very important to do something that’s meaningful to you, not only because it helps you feel more fulfilled in your work, but because you were created to fill a unique role in this world. You are needed, and you must do it.
But I know making a big career change can get pretty overwhelming, so here are some tips to help you look for and go after work that matters in 2024.
1. Decide what kind of work to pursue
In order to find a job you love, you have to know what you love to do. So carve out some time to reflect on these questions:
What do I do best? Think about the skills that have always come naturally to you – the things other people say you’re good at. These can be both hard skills (writing, budgeting, etc.) and soft skills (communication, leadership, etc.).
What do I love to do most? These are the activities that seem to make time stop for you – when you’re engaged in them, you forget everything else. You look forward to them, and you might even spend hours learning more about them in your downtime.
What results matter most to me? Think about the people you want to help, the problems they have, and the solution(s) to their problem. For example, you might get fired up about helping people get out of debt or helping busy moms get more time back in their schedule.
Then, brainstorm some career paths and jobs that would allow you to use what you do best (talent) to do what you love most (passion) to produce the results that matter most to you (mission).
2. Start your job search
If you know you don’t have enough experience yet in the field you want to pursue, use your free time to take courses, volunteer, intern or do whatever else it takes to get qualified and build your resumé before starting the application process.
But if you already have some qualifications and experience, start with sites like Indeed, CareerBuilder, Ladders and Glassdoor that let you narrow down your search to your specific location, desired salary and type of job. Some sites even let current and former employees write workplace reviews so you can see what you’d be getting yourself into.
3. Connect with who you know
No awkward networking events necessary. Reach out to people you already know from church, past jobs, internships, clubs, friend groups, etc. and ask if they (or anyone else they know) could help you get closer to the type of job you want. If you can get connected with someone who works for a company you’re applying to, even better!
Ask your connections if you can take them to lunch or coffee and get their insight on the job or career field you’re looking at. (Send a thank-you text, email or note afterward to follow up on anything you talked about, and send them your resumé if appropriate.)
4. Customize your resumé and cover letter
Tailor your resumé and cover letter for each application. I know it’s extra work, but recruiters will take note of the people who go the extra mile to show why they’re the best fit for that specific role. Your resumé should include a mention of who – if anyone – you know at the company, why you want to work there, and all relevant work experience, education and certifications you have.
5. Submit your job applications (and be patient)
If a few weeks go by without hearing anything, don’t be afraid to follow up or reapply (plenty of people have to apply to a company multiple times before getting hired), and don’t give up. Know that you’re well on your way to finding purpose in your career in 2024.