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Before starting a job search
A colleague is considering a career move – anything I should pass along to her before she starts applying for roles?
I deal with candidates every day who are anxious to make a career move due to frustration within their current environment.  Their concerns may cover a variety of items; including pay, worklife balance, lack of advancement, issues with current boss, lack of confidence in executive group, rumors of company sale or layoffs, etc.  I never pass judgment on why someone wants to leave a company but I do encourage everyone I assist to be very thoughtful on 3 main areas: Skills, Interests & Ideal Situation.
In discussing one’s skillset, the areas I am most interested in are:
What is the individual’s unique skill or ability that is differentiated from their peer group and
What are the other natural abilities the individual possesses
It is common for individuals to struggle with these.  Sometimes individuals are too humble and don’t like talking about their true strengths, other times their responses are highly generic which requires some further digging and assessing.  Ultimately through this exercise, I am aiming to identify unique qualifiers about the person. 
I then proceed to asking about what the individual enjoys.  I try to steer conversation away from what they’ve done and focus more on what gets the person excited on a regular basis. Some questions I use are:
If you could do anything, what would you do? 
What are you most interested in doing?  (this may include skills the person possesses but has not had a chance to develop)
What key skills do you want to build in the next role that positions you for the future?  (in other words, what is the pinnacle of your desired career path).
Please keep in mind that one’s skill set does not always align with their interests.  But we are trying to identify where there is an overlap between skills and interests.
Ideal Role
In the line of questioning, I hope to get specifics on what the individual’s ideal role possesses.  Here are some questions that help me get there:
  1. Target location (where is the person willing to work)
  2. Industry/Sectors – could be more than 1 but there probably is a space where the individual is passionate around working
  3. Ideal compensation
  4. Worklife balance
  5. Level/Title
  6. Size of company
  7. Attributes of supervisor / executive team
  8. Being thoughtful about skills, interests and desired role helps the individual be much more decisive regarding the types of opportunities they should consider.  It is much better to “aim first” then to just start “shooting”.