“What Should Be My Next Career Move?”

“What should I do next in my career?” It’s one of the most common questions I get as a VC.

I’m not an expert in career management. I have done only three job searches in my life (read about one at “How to Get a VC Job?”). But, I’ve seen certain frameworks and approaches work pretty well.

So, my thoughts:

  • First and foremost, you have to know who you really are and what makes you tick. What was your favorite job? What was the worst? There are profound answers there. Read “What Color Is Your Parachute?” It will help you figure out your needs and wants in a career.
  • Find the intersection between what you are good at doing and what you enjoy doing. Like most people, you are probably good at many tasks. But, also like many people, you probably most enjoy only a few certain tasks. The idea, then, is to find a job that is comprised of daily tasks that you enjoy doing and for which you have natural ability. Find the intersection.
  • I think a career is like a custom-made suit. The best suits fit you extremely well. Something off-the-rack will be OK, but not great. So, find a career that fits you vs. what others want you to do or what you wish you could do.
  • You should quit a job before finding a new one. It’s easy to articulate why you may want to leave your current job. But, it’s an altogether different question from: “To where should I go?” So, I advise people to de-couple the two processes. Suck up the cash hit. Quitting with nothing lined up is what I’ve done in all of my searches. It allowed me to have free agency.
  • Recruiters are OK but not great. Ever wonder why a company can’t find a person if the job is so great? The best jobs do not tend to come to you, but you will have to go to it.

I know this sounds like a lot of work. It is. But, if you don’t do this now, you’ll have to do so later, but the switching costs will be even higher.

So, find a career that you will love vs. a job that you can tolerate.

3 thoughts on ““What Should Be My Next Career Move?”

  1. I’m concerned about the advice to quit one’s current job before looking for a new one. This could be really bad advice for some people. I don’t know Joe so maybe this is incorrect, but I suspect this comes from a level of success and careful financial management such that Joe has had a comfortable financial buffer for those times between jobs. Many do not have this.

    If your are NOT in a position to pay all of your bills out of savings (not credit!) for an extended period (twice as long as you think it’ll take you to get a job), then quitting your job before finding another is not something I would recommend. In general it is MUCH easier to get a new job when one is already employed. Think about it from the employer’s point of view:

    1) the fact that you already have a job says that some other employer has already reviewed your qualifications and likely checked your references and found you to be a good choice (validation).

    2) the fact that you have a job but are still looking at other opportunities to grow and expand your horizons means you are a go-getter, likely hard working, and an active thinker. Note that this assumes you’ve been at your current job for at least a year – no one likes to employ job-hoppers – and that you have completed are are about to complete a product/project cycle so you can articulate that you don’t abandon the team in the middle of a cycle.

    In the circumstance of looking while you still have a good job you are in a position where you don’t _need_ to find a new job. As a result you are much more likely to be relaxed in interviews and conversations and not have the underlying *need-to-find-a-job* energy that can be a turn-off. People can sense energy and no one likes to be faced with desperation. (Think about finding a girl-friend/boy-friend: often observed that people seem to get way more interest and offers when they are IN a relationship (and not looking) than when they are alone (and looking)).

    Finally, because you currently have a job you don’t *have* to find a new job immediately so you can take the time to find the right opportunity (which is part of what Joe’s encouraging).

    Now I think what Joe is implying is that IF and ONLY IF (IFF) you have the money to coast for a year (or suitably long time) such that you can:

    a) approach the job search in a relaxed fashion so as to avoid the “*need-a-job*” energy that turns employers off

    b) take the time to explore various opportunities

    c) take a high road and speak to potential employers about your recent success(es) and say with confidence that you have recently finished an successful chapter in your career and are looking around at what might be interesting for the next chapter/phase.

    What I’m trying to suggest I guess is that for Joe’s approach to work you have to be financially secure without a job for an extended period and, both in your own mind and in your communications with prospective employers; You have to be looking for an *opportunity* rather than a “job”.

    If, on the other hand, you are paying off a lot of student debt (say), and you don’t have a healthy savings account then please do not quit your job before you’ve found your next one!

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