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Last Updated on September 3, 2020

Pick Your Job Based On What You Love To Do, Not How Much You Have Invested In.

Pick Your Job Based On What You Love To Do, Not How Much You Have Invested In.

Have you ever continued to pursue something even though it no longer served you? Maybe it’s a degree program or the dead-end job that you refuse to give up. Perhaps you’ve stayed in a relationship for no other reason than the fact that you’ve been committed to it for so long. From time to time, we all justify staying the course by considering the effort we’ve put into our current situation.

Many of us decide to take a job just because it’s a good use of our training. When we invest time and money in getting a degree, we expect that we should use it. Maybe you hate your job, but you can only envision yourself taking similar positions with equal or greater pay and responsibility. You may feel trapped by the decisions you made before, but you don’t have to be.

Whatever you do, do it because you love it.

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    When you are trying to figure out how to decide on a career, it is easy to be influenced by the types of work and training you’ve already undertaken. In general, you get a degree or training in a field that interests you, and this leads you to a job in that field.

    If you should ever decide to leave your job, there’s a high probability that you will look for work in the same field with similar pay and responsibilities. You are less likely to consider whether you still like the work that you do — you feel obligated to continue your career trajectory regardless of how you feel.

    This is how people get stuck doing jobs that they don’t like. Instead of thinking about what would make you the best and happiest version of yourself, you may face temptation to maintain the status quo. Many of us do this because we fear wasting our efforts.[1]

    Others feel that their persistence will eventually be valued, and changing course doesn’t fit well within the story they are creating about themselves or their business.[2] They may willingly take on sunk costs with the belief that their situation will improve.

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    Don’t get sucked in by sunk costs.

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      The sunk cost fallacy is the assumption that you must continue follow a trajectory because you have already put lots of resources into that particular career path or personal endeavor. We can be so loss-averse that we avoid the possibility of greater gains through changing our approach.[3]

      If you are wondering how to decide on a career, and you take a job solely because it makes use of your years of training, then you might be worrying more about sunk costs than your future happiness and success. Refusing to leave a career that is unfulfilling could be a sign that you are caught in the job investment trap, which is a variation of the sunk cost fallacy.[4]

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      Businesses also fall into this pattern of continuing down a failing path just because they already put time and money into initiatives. For example, an entrepreneur might take out a loan to open a second business location. They reason that since business is booming at Location #1, success in Location #2 should be a cinch.

      After about a year, the owner realizes that Location #2 is hemorrhaging money, and the only way to stop the bleeding is to scale back to one store. The numbers don’t lie, but despite the irrefutable evidence, the owner may still have trouble cutting his or her losses. The business owner thinks about the effort, time, and emotion that went into Location #2.

      From an outsider’s perspective, it is easy to see that the business owner in the example or the person stuck in an uninspiring career should try something new. It is harder to let go of sunk costs when we are faced with them ourselves.

      You aren’t a one-trick pony.

      Just because you took a particular course of study in school doesn’t mean that you are bound to that discipline for the rest of your life. When you are figuring out how to decide on a career, ask yourself the following questions:

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      • What are you interested in doing? If you are passionate about your work, then it won’t feel like a burden.
      • What skills do you need to do this job? We often think of our degree or primary training as our default career option, but the default may not be the best choice. If you need to change focus, what transferable skills do you have, and what additional training will you need to be successful?[5]
      • Is there room for growth in this job? Today, the average employee stays with a company for 4.2 years before moving on.[6] What types of skills can you build in your current work? How can you leverage your growth to position you for a fulfilling career?
      • Do you have opportunities to work with different people? Forming meaningful connections with people is one of the best things you can do for yourself professionally. You’ll not only be happier at work, but if you decide to change careers, you will already have a solid professional network. [7]
      • What can this job offer you in 3 years? Consider your expectations for income and authority-level in the next three years. Is this job going to give you what you want? If not, how will taking this position help you work toward your end goal?
      • Can this job help you to become the kind of person you want to be? Being inspired by the work that you do can brighten even the toughest days. Do you feel that your work is meaningful?[8] Does it bring you closer to being the optimal of yourself?

      Know when to hold and when to fold.

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        You can’t recover sunk costs, but you don’t have to perpetuate a cycle of loss. “I’ve already put so much time into this,” isn’t a good enough justification to continue down a particular path.

        Deciding to change directions doesn’t meant that you have failed. It makes zero sense to continue to put resources into something that isn’t working for you. Although you may feel like you have wasted an experience or lost time, remember that you have probably learned some valuable information as you undertook the process. Just because it didn’t go the way you expected doesn’t mean that it’s a total loss.

        Being successful and following your dreams are not mutually exclusive. Use what you know to keep growing, and don’t be discouraged if you have to change course along the way.

        Reference

        More by this author

        Angelina Phebus

        Writer, Yoga Instructor (RYT 200)

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        Published on September 16, 2020

        12 Practical Interview Skills to Help You Land Your Dream Job

        12 Practical Interview Skills to Help You Land Your Dream Job

        Today, with many companies going remote—at least until there’s a COVID-19 vaccine—technical proficiency is a vital skill for every interviewee to master. You may be asked to interview for a job on Zoom or Microsoft Teams. The way you handle yourself in the online interview (your interview skills) will say much about your ability to work from home efficiently.

        Does your workspace look clean or cluttered? Is the area free from noise? Is your home office well lit?

        Once hired, you may be asked to organize meetings on Zoom and other platforms. Along with mastering the technology, you will have to learn to follow certain protocols.

        Now is the time to get up to speed on your technical skills. Learn which interview skills are needed for the particular job for which you are applying and practice them.

        Online learning sites, such as LinkedIn Learning and Udemy, offer courses for free or a nominal membership fee. If you are a DIY type, make use of training videos offered through your particular digital tools.

        Additionally, demonstrating that you have these 12 interview skills will help you land your dream job.

        1. Organization

        When you work in a brick-and-mortar office, some of the organizing is left to others. Your direct supervisor may host a Monday morning quarterback meeting where each worker reports on the progress on their tasks.

        When you work from home, much of the organizing will be left up to you. To a much greater extent than before, you will need to develop a schedule and stick to it. Some tasks may be faster to complete from your home office where you don’t have other workers competing for your attention.

        Conversely, you may find that some tasks that would have gone quickly in an office seem to take forever from your home computer. Your phone may ring a lot, which can distract you, or you may have kids and a spouse who inadvertently disrupt your schedule.

        To do: Set a schedule and stick to it.

        To discuss during your interview: Be specific. Point to the interview skill you utilized to create a schedule for a complex work project and followed it.

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        2. Flexibility

        You set a schedule for the completion of your tasks, but your prospective boss gets their work done between the hours of 2:00 and 8:00 a.m. Your West Coast partners are three hours behind your East Coast partners, and one of your partners lives in England while another lives in Australia.

        Feedback and collaboration (see point 3) may need to happen asynchronously. Be the flexible candidate—the person who is willing to occasionally disrupt their schedule for the greater good of the team.

        For extra credit: don’t just look up time zones, look up whether they observe Daylight Savings Time.

        To do: Be flexible about meeting times.

        To discuss during your interview: Highlight a time when you worked on a team where members lived in different time zones. Discuss your processes.

        3. Collaboration

        As recently as six months ago, before the pandemic raged around the world, collaboration wasn’t quite as essential as it is today. In a remote office setting, collaboration doesn’t just mean working well with others—but actually sharing documents and editing them online on time.

        Several cloud-based tools, such as Google Drive, Basecamp, and Trello, enable the type of collaborative teamwork that most companies want today.

        To do: Download the correct software and practice using it.

        To discuss during your interview: Discuss how you worked remotely with a group. Share how you overcame certain challenges.

        4. Poise

        Murphy’s Law states, “Anything that can go wrong will go wrong.”

        When things do go awry, keeping your wits about you will demonstrate your consummate professionalism under fire. This will show your future bosses that you will be able to work well under the pressures of remote work.

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        What could go wrong, you ask? You might be muted without realizing it—your Internet connection may not be robust, your headphones may blip out, your cellphone may ring, Zoom could have an outage. The list goes on and on.

        To do: Make sure you have the most up-to-date versions of Skype and Zoom uploaded.

        To discuss during your interview: Consider highlighting a time when a project did not go as planned. Demonstrate the interview skills that allowed you to rise to the challenge.

        5. Communication

        Your ability to handle online communication is one of the top critical skills you will need to thrive in today’s remote workplace. Download Slack if you haven’t already. Get used to toggling to a different form of online communication if one of your tools fails.

        When it comes to the preferred format for your online interview, demonstrate proficiency by offering several different options. Give your phone number, Google Chat Hangouts name, and Skype ID.

        To do: Familiarize yourself with video conference and online chat tools, such as Slack, Fleep, or Workplace by Facebook.

        To discuss during your interview: Be prepared to share the online communication tools you’re using and examples of how you use each one.

        6. Good Computer Hygiene

        Setting up a backup system for your computer files is one of today’s crucial requirements for working in the digital age. Storing documents that can be shared by team members is also an efficient way to work together on presentations, articles, and reports—although studies show nearly one-third of employees avoid them because of the time it takes to find documents.

        Be prepared in your interview to indicate your experience utilizing this technology, describing how you organize and store files using cloud-based collaboration tools. How do you keep track of links and tabs? Do you use Dropbox? Google Docs? Confluence? Others?

        To do: Take inventory of the cloud-based document sharing and storage systems you know and use.

        To discuss during your interview: Describe the document sharing tools and backup systems you utilize—both for personal protection and professional file sharing.

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        7. Proper Meeting Etiquette

        Today, presenting yourself virtually has its pros and cons. While you only have to show a professional persona from the waist up (make sure to straighten up your office space behind you), you must boost your energy to show that you’re engaged in the discussion.

        Make your voice as upbeat as possible. Have your talking points at the ready and be careful not to ramble on, as long virtual meetings easily become tiresome. Use the mute and chat features to avoid interruptions.

        To do: Once you know the meeting platform, make sure you have it mastered before your interview.

        To discuss during your interview: Offer to share your screen to show an example of a work project— while at the same time demonstrating your prowess with video conferencing tools.

        8. Respecting Feedback

        In the age of working remotely, there may not be as many systems in place to obtain feedback (such as yearly performance reviews). Workers may need to ask for feedback, while managers may need to give more feedback than usual as the team adjusts to working off-site. Respecting feedback is on top of the interview skills list that you should learn.

        Taking a proactive approach with giving and receiving feedback and incorporating it into your work style is a desirable quality that your employers will note.

        To do: Reflect on the positive feedback you’ve received from past employers to bolster your confidence.

        To discuss during your interview: Share a time when you received feedback that made you grow in the job. If you’re a manager, share a time when you gave feedback to an employee who needed to better their job performance.

        9. Project Management

        Staying on task with projects has evolved far past a to-do list, with electronic tools that can track time, manage team workloads, and even do the client billing. While your prospective employer may have its preferred project management program, your experience with any of the various options—whether it’s Basecamp, Teamwork, Smartsheet, or another—will be applicable.

        To do: Know which project management software is likely to be used by the industry in which you’re interviewing, and familiarize yourself with its features.

        To discuss during your interview: Highlight a project management feature that is particularly useful in helping you excel in your work, and explain how you utilize it.

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        10. Staying up to Speed

        Employers expect their remote workers to be technically proficient so that technology runs smoothly and doesn’t create work disruptions. Bosses count on remote workers to know enough about their systems to manage them without relying on the help of overworked IT staff.

        To do: Make sure you have a fast internet connection and have a back-up plan, such as a second computer or other tethered devices.

        To discuss during your interview: Note that you are diligent about keeping your computer and software up to date.

        11. Attention to Cybersecurity Issues

        “Virus” is a loaded term these days. Spreading a computer virus in your company, however, will not only bring productivity to a halt, but it will also make you a pariah. While working from public places using free Wi-Fi (with uneven security provisions) has waned, in pre-pandemic times, coffee shops accounted for 62 percent of Wi-Fi security breaches.

        To do: Keep antivirus software updated and don’t download software without verifying its authenticity.

        To discuss during your interview: Emphasize your awareness of cybersecurity risks and your care in taking necessary safety measures.

        12. Teamwork

        Work relationships now mostly happen in virtual settings, yet employers value team-oriented workers.

        Being a part of a team gives you a sense of connection and shared purpose. A well-honed team understands how mutual reliance makes the sum of its parts greater than when individuals act on their own, improving the end product.

        To do: Take stock of your attributes as a team player and where you can cultivate skills that will enable you to work more collaboratively.

        To discuss during your interview: Inquire about the company’s culture and how it encourages a sense of community despite working remotely.

        Final Thoughts

        Preparing for remote positions available in today’s job market will mean honing your interview skills to highlight your technical abilities as well as your adaptability. By adhering to these To-Do’s and perfecting your online interview skills and charisma, you will rise above the competition and win over any prospective employer.

        More Tips to Improve Your Interview Skills

        Featured photo credit: Christina @ wocintechchat.com via unsplash.com

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