If you read my last blog post you’ll know I quit my job. So now what?

Picture of  stylistic chess pieces the knight at the front in clearest focus 2 other unknown pieces (black and white film or filter)

Due to my good friend Lorna mentioning this show recently I stormed through watching the new Netflix series The Queen’s Gambit. I played chess a bit as a kid in primary school, was part of a club and I think once we went to a different school to play other kids. I think we lost. I was never very good.

I was thinking, right now, which chess piece would I be? I’m sure there’s a buzzfeed quiz, but what piece am I now?

I did think a rook (the castle one) I can move really far in a couple of directions… as long as nothing’s in my way. Or make short sharp moves. But then I learnt that apparently the rook is a strong piece and can protect the king. Realistically I’m a pawn. Forwards in a step or two. Easily taken out. But if I get to the other side maybe I can become something else. A knight? A bishop? A queen?

I’ve never had a strategy when it comes to my life or my work. Not a real one. I’ve probably spent far too long poring over university and company strategies to prepare for interviews to know how my potential new job, no matter how big or small, fits into their vision. I’ve never focused on a strategy for myself.

I’ve always had ideas of what I wanted to do and where I wanted to go. I’ve tried to see ahead and plan an… “attack”. But reality, life, things get in the way. The jobs you want to do don’t turn up. You jump across to something else, across, a little up, across again maybe down and across. Something a bit related. Then again a bit further related. I’ve made compromise after compromise to maybe the point that I’ve forgotten what I really want. To the point where I Talking Heads myself… this is not my beautiful house, this is not my beautiful wife… how did I get here? (Also I might be interpreting this song wrong, but let me!)

I want to say I have, and could still, destroy myself endlessly overthinking that all of this is completely, purely, my fault. It’s my fault I don’t have the Job I want. The Responsibility I want. The Salary I want. But I’m trying to unlearn that and that it’s not… or at least not entirely my fault. There is an illustrator/graphic novelist I love called Nicole J Georges who does an Anonymous Fuzzball series. One really hit home for me. This is from memory (I always add the links in last to my posts), but it’s a blue dog saying something like we’re all plants. We can grow and bloom, but we need the right conditions. No matter how hard a plant tries to grow it needs earth, water, and sunlight. If you have a couple you can kind of grow, but you need the right conditions to meet your true potential. And I’m trying to tell myself this more. It doesn’t let me off the hook. I still need to grow and put effort it… but I can and will be stopped by uncontrollable things around me.

Things that are blockages; wealth, access to education, access to jobs, training, resources, knowledge.
To name a few.

I’ve stopped thinking about my old dream jobs and am trying to live more in the present about what I have access to and what I can do right now. I’ll never be an animator, or a vet, or a journalist, or any of the things I wanted to be growing up and that’s fine. I might never be an art librarian, which was my previous goal. It’s how things go. I follow less and less of these people on social media, which has been amazing to see people doing these jobs you could only dream of a kid having no knowledge how people get there (and how great it is now that this info is out there and kids can maybe for the first time see jobs they never even knew existed! Hello animation story boarding!) and actually I’m putting social media (bar Twitter and my blog in a “work” capacity) more and more into the bin. It doesn’t help me and I focus on negatives rather than positives. I do feel out of the loop with stuff, but hey that’s what friends and recommendations are for right?

So my strategy. What is that. Well it’s a work in progress.

I mentioned in my last post I really want to focus on the best work environment I can find, the best team and best boss all in a field that would appreciate me and my skills. So easy right?! HAHA !

Part of my strategy is to spend time researching places of work, googling for example “Best companies in Leeds to work for” I mean this sounds stupid, and maybe it is, but I’ve never done this before. This is how experiments and research work right? It might not always been the right answer, but you try first. I need to gather some data to help me make the best decision.

I probably need to network more. Some how. Talk to more people in places that I want to work.

I’ve registered with some recruitment agencies – though they will be swamped at this time. And I’m looking if there’s any recruiters I might have missed! I’m signed up with a couple of Publishing ones and a Information/Library type one. I’m investigating a recruitment company for digital learning (right up my street!). My experiences with recruiters in the past haven’t been the best. I registered with a recruitment company a few years ago and I just don’t really think I understood what they’d do for me. I’m wiser and more informed now and know what questions to ask!

Do you have any good stories of amazing recruiters? Places or people to suggest ? I would love to hear your experiences!

Another part of my strategy is to see what’s open to me career coach wise or from a “careers service”. Again a bit like my first interaction with recruiters I have not liked many of the interactions I’ve had with careers advisors. I have had so many tell me to change direction completely, to start at the bottom and not use the skills I’ve already gained. I want to use what I have now for a job, build on my skills and get more responsibility and a salary that reflects this.

What else do I need to add to my strategy?

I’ve been making lists of what I like and want in a job and what I don’t like. Though lots of this mostly has been quite vague with some specifics. I mentioned in my last post about needing some autonomy. I maybe need to focus on job roles… but I find that harder as they can be so vastly different from organisation to organisation. Also I’ve found focusing too much on a job title or post can mean, what, you just wait around for years for that job to come up? No thank you. I’m broadening my scope looking at everything; libraries, publishing, government jobs, charity sector, data and information orgs, law, health… and I’m going to try and not be too put off by job specs. I definitely talk myself out of a lot of things! I need to build up my confidence. I know I have a skill set and can do a variety of different things.

This is maybe the SWOT analysis of myself? Maybe? What are my strengths, weaknesses opportunities and threats? I also maybe need to look at my core values. What is important to me and will that be reflected where I work?

I did get caught up over the Christmas period thinking am I just a “glorified administrator?” I mean my life has been emails, Microsoft Office, systems… what does that equal? I need to focus on selling myself and my skills and frankly my years of experience now. Again if you’ve got any advice or resources that help with that I am all ears.

A strategy should really sort you out for a few years right? So I am looking at longevity not just a job that will be okay right now and has an okay salary for right now. I also need to maybe count less on the idea of progression. Stop thinking about something that will lead somewhere and becoming impatient, but something long lasting. So aim high! I want something that will last!

I have asked you all for so much advice in this post from good experiences with recruitment agencies to careers coaches to how to find a good job and or working environment to careers services you might want to rave about? Please do give me a shout as I want to learn and want to learn that amazing things have happened to amazing people – feel free to comment (below), tweet me, or get in touch!

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