How to Identify Your Ideal Career, with Hallie Crawford

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Transcript

Mac Prichard:

This is “Find Your Dream Job”, the podcast that helps you get hired, have the career you want, and make a difference in life. I’m Mac Prichard, your host and publisher of Mac’s List. I’m joined by my co-hosts, Ben Forstag, our managing director, and Jenna Forstrom, our community manager. This week, we’re talking about how you choose your career instead of letting it just happen to you.

According to Gallup, unhappy employees outnumber happy ones by two to one. Many people take the first job offer in order to pay the bills, others stick with an employer because they aren’t clear about what they want to do next, and some worry if they say no to a job offer, another one won’t come.

This week, I talk to career expert, Hallie Crawford, about how to figure out what you really want to do and how to make it happen. Ben has an online course you can use to make your resume better than ever and Jenna answers a question from a listener, Jenny States, about resumes and CVs. Our show is brought to you by our book, “Land Your Dream Job in Portland (and Beyond)”. To learn about our 2016 edition and how it can help you get the job you want, visit macslist.org/book.

Ben Forstag:

Hey, Mac. Ben here.

Mac Prichard:

Hey, Ben.

Ben Forstag:

I’d like to share one of the reviews our book has received on Amazon. This review comes from a reader, Robyn who says, “Mac’s List is a valuable resource for anyone looking for employment in Portland, but the Mac’s List book, ‘Land your Dream Job in Portland (and Beyond)’ has useful advice for anyone anywhere. The chapters are short and digestible and the experts offer practical information and helpful tips for your career search. What sets this book apart from others like it are the additional resources found online at the end of each chapter making it a virtual library of valuable information.”

Mac Prichard:

Well, that’s a very thoughtful and kind review, Ben. Thank you for sharing that from Robyn. When we published the book, our goal was to give people a set of tools they could use in order to get the job they want. It’s not just about resumes or informational interviewing or networking or goal setting, but it’s really a soup to nuts approach. It’ll work, we think, and what we hear from our readers whether you’re in Portland or in any other city.

Ben, Jenna, given our topic this week, I’m curious … Have you had a period in your careers where you weren’t quite sure what you wanted to do and maybe took a job that you weren’t that crazy about?

Ben Forstag:

Just about every day, Mac. No, just kidding.

Mac Prichard:

Every day that you walk in here.

Ben Forstag:

“Do I really want to be here?” No … Certainly, there have been points in my career where I’ve wondered what I was doing or felt like I was just kind of floating instead of directing my career in the right direction. I know, especially in periods of unemployment, that uncertainty creeps into your mind about, “Do I know what I’m doing? Is this the right career for me? Am I even capable of doing what I want to be doing?” I think that’s something everyone struggles with.

Mac Prichard:

How about you, Jenna?

Jenna Forstrom:

For me, when there have been times where I didn’t know what I was doing or during times of unemployment and you just see job postings, you’re like, “Oh, I can do that. I can do that. I think I can do that.” There’s no real question of, “Oh, I want to do that.” As you narrow it down and you start looking at job postings and this necessary skills and where you can grow helps direct what you actually want to end up doing.

Mac Prichard:

I’ve had a similar experience, Jenna, where during periods when I was looking for work and I was uncertain about what I wanted to do, I used the job search process to narrow my goals. For me, that was pretty labor intensive. I’ve learned in the years since then that the clearer I can be about what I want, the faster and more productive a search will be.

Ben, let’s turn to you. You were out there looking for a resource of the week every week. What have you found for us this week?

Ben Forstag:

This week, I want to share a new online course that will teach you how to quickly write a polished, professional resume.

Mac Prichard:

We hear about resumes a lot, so this is a great skill to have.

Ben Forstag:

It is. Obviously, everyone needs a resume. In truth, you probably need a couple different resumes. The most effective practice is to write a customized resume for each job that you apply for.

Mac Prichard:

I know when we give that advice to folks, they worry, “Well, how can I do that? That sounds very labor intensive.” What have you learned for us, Ben?

Ben Forstag:

You’re right. Doing this kind of customization and really focusing your skills around each job does take time. The course I want to share with you this week is called “The Weekend Resume Makeover”. It was actually developed by one of our friends, Jenny Foss, who has contributed to this podcast several times.

Mac Prichard:

Yeah. We’ve had Jenny on the show a few times and she’s also been a frequent contributor to our blog.

Ben Forstag:

Yeah. A lot of the advice about resumes that she shared in previous episodes and on our blog show up in this course. The course itself solves this problem that we hear about all the time here at Mac’s List, which is, people learn about a great job either on our job board or through their network. They know they need to act fast because many employers hire quickly. It takes a lot of time to develop that well crafted, customized resume. If you try to use a resume writing service to help you out, you’re going to pay a lot of money for a quick turnaround.

Mac Prichard:

I’ve heard from listeners and readers that a custom resume writing service can cost three, five hundred, even a thousand dollars or more.

Ben Forstag:

Yeah. It’s a lot of money, and especially if you’re unemployed. The Weekend Resume Makeover course basically teaches you how to quickly revamp your resume by yourself. It has twelve video modules that take you step by step through the process. Each module focuses on a specific aspect of resume writing like choosing the right format, writing your summary section, describing your past work experience, how to deal with resume gaps and career bloopers, things like that. I actually enrolled in this course several weeks ago. Don’t worry, Mac.

Mac Prichard:

Are you looking?

Ben Forstag:

I’m not looking, but I wanted to see what was going on in there. Jenny is a real pro when it comes to resumes. Her enthusiasm and humor really shines through in each lesson.

Jenna Forstrom:

I totally believe you. She’s ridiculous and her personality just exudes out from the screen.

Ben Forstag:

Yeah. I didn’t think it was possible, but she actually makes the resume writing process a little bit fun.

Mac Prichard:

That sounds unlikely.

Ben Forstag:

No. It’s probably not the way I want to spend my Saturday nights, but the virtue of this course is that she tells you, “I can help you rewrite your resume in one weekend.” I would definitely dedicate one Saturday night to this process. Now, the course does cost a little bit of money, but it’s not that much and it’s a solid investment that’ll help you develop a valuable career skill that you can use over and over and over again.

If you’re interested in getting a little sneak peek at Jenny’s teaching style, she does offer a free course on how to write an awesome cover letter. I strongly recommend you check out the Weekend Resume Makeover course and you can learn more actually through our website at www.macslist.org/jobjenny. I’ll include a link in the show notes.

Mac Prichard:

Well, thanks, Ben. If you’ve got a suggestion for Ben, you can email him. His address is ben@macslist.org. Now, let’s turn to the Mac’s List mailbag and the question of the week. Jenna, what are you hearing from our listeners?

Jenna Forstrom:

Our question this week comes from Jenny States. I met her a couple weeks ago at a Mac’s List networking event with AMA PDX. Her question was, “What is the difference between a resume and a CV? Which one is appropriate to use when job hunting?” I shared this with her when we met. I said, “Oh, I always use CV because I feel like it sounds smarter” and then, I did some research when she asked me the question.

Mac Prichard:

What did you find?

Jenna Forstrom:

CV actually stands for “curriculum vitae”, which is in Latin for “course of life”. Where a resume typically is a one pager consisting of your contact information, relevant work experience, and education, curriculum vitae can be up to eight pages, which I know is wildly up for debate. It has everything to do with your entire course of education, so more geared towards people in academia or doctors or people who have been published, authors. It highlights everything you’ve accomplished.

Mac Prichard:

I’ve seen a number of CVs over the years, especially from academics. They’ll list every journal article, every professional publication. You’re right. They can go on for pages and pages.

Ben Forstag:

Yeah. From my experience in both healthcare and academia, I’ve seen CVs that go on for more than eight pages.

Jenna Forstrom:

Oh, wow.

Ben Forstag:

More like eighteen or nineteen pages.

Jenna Forstrom:

My overall feedback would be go with whatever your industry standard is. If you’re a marketer like me, we should be using resumes to apply for jobs. If you’re in academics or in a industry specific that’s looking for CVs, then go with that course.

Mac Prichard:

Thanks, Jenna. If you’ve got a question for Jenna, you can write her directly. Her address is jenna@macslist.org. These segments are sponsored by the 2016 edition of “Land Your Dream Job in Portland (and Beyond)”. We’ve made our book even better. We’ve added new content and now we’re offering it in the formats you told us you wanted.

For the first time ever, you can find our book in a paperback edition or download it on your Kindle, Nook, or iPad. Our goal is the same whatever the format: to give you the tools and tips you need to get meaningful work that makes a difference. For more information, visit macslist.org/book.

Now, let’s turn to this week’s expert, Hallie Crawford. Hallie is a certified career coach, speaker, and author from Atlanta whose coaching company, HallieCrawford.com, helps people identify their ideal career path, navigate their career transition, and nurture their careers. Her team of coaches work with people of all ages, have clients worldwide, and have helped thousands of people achieve their career goals. Hallie, thank you for joining us today.

Hallie Crawford:

Thanks for having me. Pleased to be here.

Mac Prichard:

Why do you think people struggle with choosing a career? Why is that hard for people?

Hallie Crawford:

That’s a really good question and it’s such a common thing. I think that so many people do because number one, career transition just in general … It’s hard, it’s tough, it’s not fun, and it can be really stressful for people. Unfortunately, a lot of the time, it falls to the bottom of their list. Even though maybe their current job is not satisfying for them and maybe sometimes kind of painful, I always joke that it’s like an old pair of slippers: at least you know where the pain points are. You know what to expect.

Some of it is just … Goodness, it’s a hard thing to tackle and can seem so overwhelming. People are afraid to tackle it and are not sure where to start. The second thing I would say why I think it happens too is so many of us fall into a job. It was offered to us or a friend suggested we’d be good at it or whatever. We never had the tools to understand what we should really consider in order to know the right path.

They don’t know what to think about. I mean, of course we understand compensation is important and using our talents and skills, that kind of thing. Few people really think about the fulfillment piece and the right work environment and what their personality type is and how that impacts the right career choice. Some of it as well is just not knowing how to figure it out in the first place.

Mac Prichard:

Well, I want to revisit some of the tools that people can use when they’re ready to make a change. Before we get there, what are signs that people should pay attention to that indicate that it is time to revisit your career choice?

Hallie Crawford:

There are a lot of them. I would say a couple things are, number one, if you are not using your natural talents and abilities enough during the course of the day, if you feel like they’re kind of going to waste in some sense, that is one really big sign. If you don’t feel fulfilled in some way or feel like you get some kind of meaning from your work, I think that’s a red flag, too.

I have met people and there have only been a few of them who are like, “No, no, it’s okay to get meaning in my personal life through volunteering and all of that.” I get that and that’s fine. The majority of the people, especially that we work with, they want to get some sort of fulfillment and reward.

If you don’t and it just seems like a drag all the time and you’re never excited about anything you do, that’s a huge red flag as well. Finally, another one is, if you feel like you’re not being compensated adequately for what you do, that’s another possible reason you need to reconsider, too.

Mac Prichard:

How much attention should you pay to your gut and your instincts in choices like this?

Hallie Crawford:

A huge amount, I think. Here’s the problem though is that … Yeah, if you have this underlying sense that something’s wrong? Yeah, you’re probably right and you definitely should go with it. What happens to people is they don’t trust their gut because they don’t know all the things they need to consider in order to figure it out in the first place. You should trust your gut, absolutely, but I always tell people as well kind of like as a step two … Don’t have some knee-jerk reaction to this, either.

It’s better to really think it through and make the right choice the next time around. For example, what if … You haven’t been happy for a month or two just because you’ve been working on this specific project? What if you really sat down and thought about it and realized, “You know what? It’s not the whole career path that’s the wrong fit for me, it’s really just my boss or really just the work environment.”

It is important to go with your gut, absolutely, but also, don’t have some knee-jerk reaction and just jump to something else. Really sit down and think about what is wrong and what needs to change. Nine times out of ten, less needs to change than people typically think. It’s usually just a couple of factors that are a problem.

Mac Prichard:

Why do people say yes to offers they’re unsure about? Why do they take jobs that maybe their instincts tell them aren’t a good fit or just don’t line up with the goals they might have?

Hallie Crawford:

Oh, goodness. Yeah, there’s so many reasons, right? I was just kind of smiling as you were talking just now because I have done the same thing. I remember vividly thinking, “This job is not going to work for me. The boss is too similar to my dad. I love my dad, but it’d be hard to work with him.” I had to pay my bills and I needed to pay off student loans. That’s one reason. Finances could be one. Again, maybe if people have been unemployed for awhile and they’re just desperate for whatever reason, they take it.

Sometimes people just feel like, “Oh, gosh. They asked me.” It’s easy, so they just say yes without thinking about it. It can be a knee-jerk reaction, too. Also, other people might think, “Hey, this is a great career fit for you. You should go for it.” They kind of talk you into it, too. There’s a lot of different reasons this can happen. Usually, it comes from outside of us. It’s external factors that are usually driving the bus in that case.

Mac Prichard:

Okay. Well, let’s talk about steps people can take to craft that ideal career model. They’re ready for a change, they’re either entering the workforce for the first time or they know they need to make that change. How do people get started?

Hallie Crawford:

Sure … I’m actually going to share two kinds of separate steps here. One step is what I alluded to just a second ago about really just sitting down and taking … It doesn’t have to be that long. It could be thirty minutes, forty five minutes of time, just quiet time, one day after work or during your lunch hour or whatever and saying, “Okay. What is really bothering me about my job? What do I want to have instead?”

What I have people do is we have our clients write what we call a “career contrast list”. It’s basically where they begin to write a list of “What do I want to have in the ideal job?” They base it on their current position, “What do I like and what do I dislike?”, and also previous positions or classes, “What have I liked in the past and what have I not liked?”, and come up with a list of wants.

What’s really interesting about this exercise is it’s not rocket science. It’s not hard, right? Seeing this list in black and white makes a huge difference for people. They realize, number one, that there may not be as many problematic factors, let’s say, in their current career path. It may be just a couple of things. Number two, it helps them be much more rational and practical about what they need to do next and what might work.

That is step one: Develop a list of wants in an ideal job considering what you like and dislike about what you’re doing now as one start. Include work environment, etc. The second piece is we have our clients go around our ideal career model. It has eight pieces on it. We will share this with your audience so they can see it. One of the main pieces, one of the first things we have them do also after this list of wants, is identify what is going to be most rewarding and fulfilling for them. We have them do that.

One of those steps … There’s several steps, but one of them is by helping them identify what their career values are. Values are guideposts to fulfillment. They’re the things that if we live our lives by them, we’ll feel lit up. What are your values in your job? Where do you derive meaning? Is it from helping people? Is it from working with numbers? Is it from being compensated fairly? Whatever it is that makes you feel like you’re getting meaning out of your work, that goes in the fulfillment bucket.

Then, we have them walk around the career model, basically. I’ll just read these really quickly. You start with fulfillment first. We always have clients do that because they get the most sense of career direction from that piece and also, it influences all of the other pieces of the model. Okay? We have them look at, “Okay. If fulfillment is the main thing I do all day every day, enjoyment is another piece. What else would I like to do? I enjoy writing, I enjoy marketing.”

Those could be elements of the job as well. We have them identify the talents and skills they want to leverage in their ideal job. We have them look at past experience to, again, mine for information about, “Hey, what have I liked in the past?” but also to determine, “Will I be qualified for this dream job that I’m considering?”

We have them look at their past education as well, their personality type, the work environment, and compensation. Interestingly, compensation comes last. Two things that happen with that is, not because it’s not important. It is. We always want them to think creatively and outside the box and really think about the meaning first.

They can always compromise later if they have to adjust their list of career ideas based on compensation. We do that along the way and adjust it as appropriate. It’s better for people to have a long, really good, solid list of many jobs that might work for them and have them feel fulfilled. It’s easier to narrow down the list than add to the list. Those are the things we have them do.

Mac Prichard:

It’s a great list. I think it’s very interesting that you start with fulfillment first because often when people look at job postings and descriptions, they think about money first or perhaps location or title. How do you define fulfillment? What are some of the elements that you share with people to describe fulfillment?

Hallie Crawford:

The way that we talk about it is where you would derive meaning from what you do or a sense of accomplishment or a sense of success. Some of the things I’ll have clients do is, “Hey, what does success mean to you?” and have them think about that and write down a few adjectives and words. There are also the career values that I talked about. We have them do a peak experience in their life and think about and write about, “Gosh, what was cool about that for me? What did I enjoy and what was neat about it?”

They’ll start to glean from that there was a sense of accomplishment, there was a sense of teamwork. If it was traveling to a foreign country, for example, that was their peak experience, there may be adventure there. There may be education and learning. These are all elements that they can incorporate or that they might want to have in their job in the way that they define it.

What we’ve noticed is when we’re working with people, some of the values, let’s say, are going to be more qualities about the job. For example, like I said, adventure or maybe risk or problem solving, something like that … Those are things that could be present in a lot of different kinds of jobs depending on what it is and how you define it. There will usually be some when we’re doing this peak experience exercise and thinking about what success means to you that’ll start to point people in a direction.

If there’s learning or education or helping people solve problems related to their finances or whatever it is that they come up with, that starts to point people in a direction and give them some ideas about possible career paths. We kind of look out for both. We look out for what we call “qualities” about the ideal job, but also directional values as well that could give them some career ideas.

Mac Prichard:

Okay, so reflect back on the values and qualities of previous jobs and that’ll help you define that path forward. Well, we’re coming to the close of our interview. What else would you like to add, Hallie?

Hallie Crawford:

Take action now … I know that sounds kind of simple, but I have too many people that will call us a year later and say, “Hey, I talked to you before and I haven’t done anything about this because I got scared.” Just break it down into small chunks. Start with that list, the list of wants. Just start there. Spend thirty minutes on it. Just get the ball rolling and know that it will unfold for you over time, but the sooner you start, the better.

Mac Prichard:

I have to ask, what is the number one reason you see that prevents people from taking action?

Hallie Crawford:

It feels overwhelming for them. They don’t know where to start and it just feels like this big can of worms they don’t want to open, they don’t want to deal with. They just kind of stay where they are because they’re not sure what to do and it’s too overwhelming to address it and deal with it.

Mac Prichard:

Yeah. Inertia can be a powerful force. I like your idea about breaking it down into small pieces because that can make it seem more actionable. Tell us what’s coming up next for you?

Hallie Crawford:

I have a dream job coaching group that’s coming up. I have led these for the past several years. They are fantastic. They’re small, interactive coaching groups that I lead personally. They’re based on the career model we just talked about and include our workbook. Our next one starts on May 11th.

We do it on your lunch hour so that you can participate while you’re having lunch. It makes it a little bit easier for people to squeeze it in. It’s our dream job coaching group. It’s actually listed on our website under our coaching packages page on the far right. The next one is May 11th.

Mac Prichard:

Well, great. We’ll be sure to include a link to that and to the model that you described in the show notes. To learn more about Hallie, go to her website. It’s halliecrawford.com. Hallie, thanks for joining us.

Hallie Crawford:

Thank you. Have a great day.

Mac Prichard:

We’re back in the Mac’s List studio with Ben and Jenna. Tell me … What were your impressions of Hallie’s interview?

Jenna Forstrom:

I really liked how she suggested spending thirty to forty five minutes alone just reflecting and creating a career contrast list, a pros and cons for your job. What you’re currently doing and seeing the good things that you like and maybe the bad things that you’re not enjoying doing and putting a time frame to that. “I’m really unhappy in my job, but it’s because of project X” and knowing that if there’s a light at the end of the tunnel, maybe you can stay in that role. If it’s project X is what your job is, maybe you need to start reflecting on what you do enjoy doing to initiate a pivot into something more fulfilling.

Mac Prichard:

I think that kind of self assessment is always vital, whether you’re trying to figure out what to do next or to stay within your current job and determine how you can not only give more, but get more out of it. Ben, what were your thoughts?

Ben Forstag:

I liked how she took the process of looking for a new job or a new career and expanding it beyond the kind of responsibilities you’re looking for in your job and thinking about the qualities you want in your new job. Whether it’s by doing the contrast list or some other exercise, I think it’s really important to think about “What does that job look like?” Not just, “What am I going to be doing on a day to day basis?”

Now, the latter is important, right? You don’t want to be doing something that you’re not qualified for, is going to make you miserable. When thinking about the kind of environment that you’re going to work in, the kind of work/life balance you’re going to have, the kind of end of the day project goals you’re going to have in that job, all that stuff’s important. I think when people are looking through job listings, they tend to be looking at that job only through the veil of what the responsibilities say in the job description rather than the bigger environmental factors at play.

Mac Prichard:

Yeah. I think, too, when you think about your strengths and the qualities you bring to a job or what you want to get out of a position, you’re taking ownership for that position. You’re not just showing up for work, you’re thinking about what you can contribute. That’s going to make you a much more effective employee because you’re thinking about your employer’s problems. Supervisors and employers love that.

Ben Forstag:

Yep.

Mac Prichard:

Well, thank you both and thank you all, our listeners, for joining us. If you like what you hear on the show, you can help us by leaving a review and a rating at iTunes. This helps others discover our show and helps us serve you better. One of the reviews we received recently is someone with the iTunes handle [phil-finds 00:25:30]. Philfinds writes, “Even if you aren’t looking for a job, this podcast is great. Perfect for any professional. Trained to hone skills, mentor, or just be ready for that next job search.”

Well, thank you, Philfinds. Thanks to the scores of other listeners who have left a review. We’re celebrating a milestone. We just got our one hundredth rating and review on iTunes. This week also marks six months since we launched the show. Thank you all for tuning in and please take a moment to leave your own comments and ratings. Just go to www.macslist.org/itunes. We’ll be back next Wednesday with more tools and tips you can use to find your dream job.

Are you happy at your job? Unfortunately, most people aren’t. According to Gallup, unhappy employees outnumber happy ones, two to one.

There are many reasons people end up with jobs they don’t like. Some workers take the first job offered in order to pay bills. Others stick with an employer because they aren’t clear what they want to do next. And some worry if they say no to a job offer another one won’t come.

This week’s guest, Hallie Crawford, shares strategies for finding your ideal career and tips for taking control of your work life. What would it take for you to be happy in your career?

This Week’s Guest

Hallie Crawford is a certified career coach, speaker, and author. She has served on the Board of the Georgia Coach Association and is regularly featured as a career expert on CNN, Fox Business News, Forbes.com, The Wall Street Journal, Yahoo HotJobs, and Entrepreneur Magazine. Hallie is the founder of Create Your Career Path, a boutique career coaching firm.

Resources from this Episode