How to start a job search when you don’t know where to start

Many people right now will be anxious about the stability of their job. Lots of people will have already lost their positions and could be feeling frightened and unsure how to even embark upon a job search.

Some people will be figuring out ways to build for the future. We are here to help you become one of those people.

job search alice in wonderland lost

How do we avoid going merely “somewhere” like Alice and instead go to a place that matters to us?

If this is something that is stopping you from starting a job search, you’re not alone: not knowing how, where or when to start is extremely common.

Life would be a lot easier if someone would just tap us on the shoulder and deliver our dream job, our eureka moment, our ‘passion’ to us on a silver platter. 

Unfortunately, everything we’ve learnt about job searching and career-changing points to that not ever being the case.

To break things down we prefer to talk about curiosities, frustrations and heroes.

Chasing Curiosities

On the surface, “Chase your curiosities” sounds eerily like the old adage “follow your passion” myth. But there’s a clear distinction.

“Follow your passion” implies that you know exactly where you’re heading and how to get there. On the other hand, “chasing your curiosities” doesn’t require this much from you. It doesn’t ask you to know exactly where you’re going before you start your job search. Curiosities are multiple and varied. They don’t demand that you have a pre-determined path (to ‘follow’); they require only that you have a sense of what seems interesting to you and a willingness to pursue it.

“Chase your curiosities” just asks that you let excitement and enthusiasm pull you forward.

Author Elizabeth Gilbert describes the idea of Curiosities vs. “follow your passion” quite well here: 

Elizabeth Gilbert's Belief Story #1 What is Curiosity? #beliefstories (congrats Liz on Big Magic!)

Posted by OWN: Oprah Winfrey Network on Tuesday, September 22, 2015


“If something is interesting to you, trust that it is interesting to you for a reason; that it is another breadcrumb on the amazing trail that will make your life yours and not anybody else’s.” – Elizabeth Gilbert on Curiosity

In fact, chasing curiosities is what Walt Disney credited Disney’s success to:

“There’s really no secret about our approach. We keep moving forward—opening up new doors and doing new things—because we’re curious. And curiosity keeps leading us down new paths. We’re always exploring and experimenting.” – Walt Disney

Chasing your Tennis Balls

A helpful way to think of chasing curiosities is to picture the way a dog chases tennis balls.

If you throw a tennis ball with a dog beside you, what does the dog do? She has almost no choice but to chase the tennis ball.

There are likely things that pull you like a tennis ball pulls a dog. Try to be attentive and listen to those things.

Every time you walk by a bookshop, do you feel pulled to walk in? When you hear someone talking about sailing, do you instantly perk up and chime in? Ever hear about a new business idea and think “HELL YES!”? Those all sound like tennis balls. New possibilities emerge as you let yourself be pulled like a dog chasing a tennis ball.

Of course, these may not translate immediately to a new opportunity, but listening to the things that pull you and giving yourself permission to be pulled by them will likely lead you down promising paths during your job search.

Exercise: Uncover your curiosities 

Your curiosities might be staring you in the face, pulling you in all kinds of directions every day – in which case, feel free to jot them down! More likely, your curiosities are a bit more buried and need bringing out into the light in order to help you in your job search.

To uncover your curiosities, take yourself on an ‘Artist Date’ (an idea made popular by Julia Cameron’s book The Artist’s Way). 

This is a planned, once-a-week, solo expedition to explore something that interests you.

Of course, we are on lockdown right now but your task is to take yourself (and no one else) away on a “date”.

Whether it’s watching a talk online, reading a book, painting a picture, writing a poem, knitting a scarf. Your aim is to play – whatever that means to you. 

Ask yourself ‘what sounds fun?’, and give yourself permission to explore that itch from home. And whatever you do, try to ignore the voice telling you ‘that’s stupid’.

For inspiration, check out this blog post: 101 Artist Date Ideas. If you’re unable to do the activities outside that take your fancy, make a note of them for when you can! 

See what you learn, and keep following what you’re drawn to.

If you’re feeling stuck about your career and need support to figure out your next steps, join our Get Unstuck weekend Bootcamp in May to get yourself going again. Find out more.

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