I can’t be the only person who has been completely disheartened while searching for a fulfilling job.
After spending hours (or even days) looking at countless job listings that sounded wholly uninteresting, I would finally find one amazing posting on LinkedIn, only to feel disheartened all over again after seeing it already has “Over 200 applicants.”
It wasn’t until I took a moment to step back and reevaluate my job non-negotiables and what would truly make me feel fulfilled that I was able to approach the job search with excitement and find a job I loved.
Use the following approach in your job search to find a job that suits you and what you want!
Step 1: Figuring out your “whys” and priorities
When I graduated from college 8 million years ago (okay, so it was actually 8, but I feel that old), I was a bit lost. After having my life mapped out until the ripe, old age of 22, I wasn’t sure which direction to go. I struggled for months to find a job, eventually taking a job at a logistics company in one of their corporate offices.
While the work wasn’t terrible and I really liked my coworkers, every day, I was faced with the fact that I didn’t love corporate culture and, more importantly, I wasn’t passionate about what I was doing. I began taking on writing side hustles (my longtime passion) so that I could do something I enjoyed and build a writing portfolio.
Years later, when I had a great portfolio and I was ready to move on from my corporate job, I began looking for writing positions on job boards. I read job description after job description for positions that should’ve been my dream jobs.
I hated all of them.
To say that hopelessness had set in would be an understatement. I wanted a job that I was passionate about, but I didn’t want any of the jobs where my passion was the main function. Then, what was I supposed to do!?
Once I sat back and reflected on why I didn’t feel drawn to any of these jobs, I realized it was because, for those positions, I would only be writing, which filled me with dread. When I looked back to my childhood, I recognized that I’ve never wanted to be or do only one thing.
At one point, I did want to be an author, it’s true!
But at another point, I wanted to be a professor.
For a while, I wanted to be a translator.
There were several years that I wanted to be a genetic researcher – but also a dog breeder, gemologist, life coach, fashion designer, and the list goes on and on. In college, I had two majors and a minor because I just wanted to do a little bit of everything.
But knowing that I wanted variety didn’t quite help me to figure out how to approach the job search. I also needed to dig into my “whys.” Sure, I love writing, but why do I love writing? What do I accomplish with it?
This was an easy question to answer for me. Something I’ve always strived to do with my words is to make people laugh and to make them feel comfortable. My need for variety and helping people made me realize how best to direct my job search. For some people, the job search needs to start with titles, skills, and job functions. However, those are not the things that I prioritize.
For me, it all has to do with passion, culture, and mission.
I wanted to work in a fast-paced environment where my job was always shifting but there was no stuffy corporate culture. I wanted to work with a small, collaborative team with a mission I cared about. Considering my desire to destigmatize sexuality, kink, masturbation, polyamory, and other alternative lovestyles, I started searching for every SexTech startup I could find.
While I loved writing and would’ve preferred to have writing as part of my job, for me, it was more important to work for a SexTech startup. My primary skill set was in operations and logistics, so if I could make a difference in this space as an operator, that was okay with me! Title and job function are simply not as important to me as passion, culture, or mission.
There are several different priorities to consider while searching for a job. If you’re looking for a specific title or salary, that’s great! But if you’re lost because job descriptions don’t seem appealing to you, you might need a different approach. Maybe you want to prioritize a remote work culture or something with a lot of job security. Whatever your priorities and non-negotiables are, define them and use them to focus your job search.
No matter your approach, the next step is everyone’s favorite activity: networking!
Step 2: Networking authentically
“Networking” is one of those words that makes people cringe.
I would argue that, like most villains in children’s movies, networking isn’t evil. It’s just misunderstood.
Networking has a reputation for being disingenuous. It’s seen as getting ahead no matter the cost, of stepping on others on your way to the top and charming your way into the position of CEO using deceit.
If this is your view of networking, let’s challenge that.
Networking isn’t about getting ahead at all.
Networking is simply about chatting with people (ideally people who share your interests). Running into your high school Biology teacher in the grocery store and striking up a conversation is networking. Chatting up your friend’s mom at a wedding is networking. Talking to like-minded people in social media groups is networking.
Networking is all about connecting with people in a genuine way.
When I realized that I wanted to work for a SexTech startup, I began connecting with as many founders as I could on LinkedIn. I wasn’t adding them to tap them for a job, I simply wanted to keep up with a field that I was interested in. I wanted to read all of the news they posted about their companies and about the sexuality industry. I reached out to them simply to chat about their history and geek out about our shared passions.
That’s all that I wanted — people to geek out with.
I love talking about sexuality with anyone and everyone, so I reached out to those making a difference in that space. I was interested in learning and making genuine connections with people who shared my passion.
Bring your passion with you everywhere as a way to connect with others, and you will always be networking naturally. At the least, you’ll find some awesome new people who share your passions. At the most, you might be able to find a new opportunity you love!
Step 3: Living out loud
Now that you’ve started connecting with people in the spaces you want to be, it’s time to start interacting organically and publicly with others in those spaces as well.
You know how they say “dress for the job you want, not the job you have?” I say it’s also important to “act like you have the job you want.”
For me, this meant connecting with and following brands in the SexTech space. As great as connecting with founders was, I couldn’t just “talk the talk” and tell them I was interested in the field, I also had to “walk the walk” and publicly prove my interest.
I could wax poetic about my passion for SexTech, but if I had nothing to back that up, why would anyone believe it?
I started engaging in every conversation I could about SexTech. If a company I was interested in posted about a taboo topic, I responded genuinely. I had to prove that I was invested using my engagement.
As you can imagine, I had reservations about sharing my thoughts and feelings so publicly. Who would see these ideas that were clearly connected to me?
Back when I worked at a corporate company, I had to be cautious about what I shared online. What if my current or future employer saw my opinions on kink or sexuality!? I could kiss my job prospects goodbye.
But now that I had defined my “whys” and decided that SexTech was my end goal, sharing these opinions openly would actually help my job prospects, as opposed to hurt them. I tried my best to throw my reservations out the window and focus on my end goal. This was just something else I needed to do to secure a job I was passionate about. Like networking, this came very naturally. It actually felt freeing to give myself permission to just be myself.
Being yourself is the only way you’ll be able to build a life that feels good and authentic. The more that you chase after your passion in everything you do, the easier it will be to land that perfect, fulfilling job.
Unfortunately, sometimes we can lose sight of our "whys" in the job hunt, which can lead to us feeling discouraged or ending up in jobs that don't feel fulfilling. Reflect and get those down, then build your network out with people who work in your desired field. Get to know as many of the players in the industry as you can and understand their differences. Follow accounts of companies with missions you admire on social media and start actively engaging to publicly show your interest.
Most importantly, during every step of the job hunt, be mindful and make sure that what you’re doing will push you toward your end goal. Regularly ask yourself if you’re moving toward living your truth and let your intuition guide you. Being true to yourself and your passions will help you find exactly what you’re looking for.
Now, go get to work figuring out your "whys" and your priorities so you can land the job that allows you to live as your authentic self!