As I hit “submit” on my first job application in nearly 10 years, I wondered if I was doing the right thing.
At 33, I was running two successful, self-made businesses. So why on earth would I hang up my entrepreneur hat and rejoin the “corporate world”? 😱
Spoiler alert: it wasn’t for the money.
For 10 years, I called myself an entrepreneur. It felt like a crucial piece to my identity. All my friends would say “You’re so lucky you’re your own boss! You get to take time off whenever you want!”
They didn’t know about the silent nagging that kept holding me back, keeping me small, disgruntled, frustrated, and well… just unhappy.
I tried everything to make my businesses work for me. I changed to a coaching-style business model, hired contractors to do the work that didn’t “light me up”, spent a small fortune in online courses that promised the holy grail. But finally, in 2021, I was unable to ignore that gnawing inside and dove headfirst into a journey that I never expected.
Through months of business coaching, therapy, journaling, and too many tear-stained calls to my sister, I came to the embarrassing revelation that my businesses weren’t aligned with my best strengths (or even interests). 🤦♀️
But at 33, with a never-stops-moving 3-year-old, a self-employed husband, a desire to finally build our Instagrammable, rustic-farmhouse chic new home (a la Joanna Gaines), how could I walk away from two businesses I had already built up?
🤨 Have you ever felt like you just “fell” into your career? Like you woke up one day and thought, “How did I get here?”.
For many of us, it’s been a steady progression from post-grad days. You excitedly get a job after college and one job leads to another, leads to another… all in the same line of business and you never really stop to think, “Is this what I should be doing?”.
Once I pulled back the covers on my business and realized passion and skill set just weren’t there, I had to make a change. (I’m glossing over this for the sake of keeping this short-ish and sweet, but this is a long process however you slice it.)
For me, I realized career satisfaction comes from 2 key factors:
1. Work that aligns with your skillset (Are you a talker/collaborator/communicator but spend your day entering numbers into a spreadsheet? 🚩 🚩 🚩)
2. Work that aligns with your core values (Spending time with your family or having time to workout during the day is important to you but your company offers no flexibility? 🚩 🚩 🚩)
💡 A helpful exercise to try here is to write a job description for your role (no cheating and looking at what your company provides). Put down all the technical skills, soft skills, values necessary to be really successful in that role?
Do you match up? (I didn’t.)
Once you have an awareness of what is misaligned for you, brainstorm how you can move forward. Can you craft your existing position to better fit your skills and interests? Do you have a supportive leader/mentor you can share this information with? Do you need to consider a career change?
And more importantly, how does this information change your vision of yourself and self-identity?
Letting go of my “entrepreneurial” identity was hard. Like really hard. I felt like a failure 10x over.😬
But this story has a happy ending.
Once I got my ego out of the way (I Kon-Mari’d that… thanked it for what it gave me and then let it go…), I was able to focus on next steps.
For me, that was a career change. Actually, it was a career rebirth… I happily dusted off my recruiting skills and found my dream job that aligns with my natural skill set and a company that aligns with my values.🎉
But career changes are tricky! Here are four tips that I employed to pitch myself for roles (especially when not the best fit on paper):
👉 Do the work. Research the company, create one master resume and then make copies of it and tweak it to exactly fit each individual job you’re applying for. Use their language from the job description, include numbers, stats, results as much as possible.
👉 Write a dang cover letter. Old school? Time-consuming? Yes and Yes. But this is your place to shine. Share exactly why you are applying for this job, acknowledge any disconnection and draw parallels to help the recruiter understand what you bring to the table.
👉 Focus on results. Prepare for the interview by outlining 2-3 solid examples/projects in your mind that you feel should reflect your ability to do the job well. Again - draw parallels for the interviewer.
👉 Know your tradeoffs. Find a job opportunity that lights you up? Are you willing to take a salary cut for it? Or a less glamorous title? Or have to build back up vacation days at a new company? It would be nice if everything lined up perfectly but often there will be trade-offs when doing a career pivot.
If you’re feeling stuck in your career, give yourself space to step back and reflect on your true strengths and what brings YOU fulfillment. This is a timely process. Share your thoughts with trusted mentors, cry a little to your friends, but in the end, trust your intuition.
Do you feel bold enough to share your innate strengths? Celebrate them by commenting below. 👇
(Mine: Relationship building, communication, organization, personalization, fun!)