Many designers think that the best career strategy to adopt when starting a new search is to cast a WIDE net. When you have this dialed in, it can be a great strategy to employ...but when you don’t, it can be far more harmful than helpful. Take Marcus for example (names have been changed).
When I met Marcus at an event two years ago, he was trying to get out of his dead-end corporate job. Even though he was a promising designer, he lost himself somewhere along the way and was struggling to figure out his next move. He told me that he had applied for more than 45 jobs over a 6-month period and still hadn’t gotten past a first interview. Marcus said he was weathering the job search and doing fine by “diversifying” his options. He told me that he was submitting a wide range of applications from Director of Innovation at a Consumer Packaged Goods company to Business Development Lead for a consultancy to Design Manager of a real estate agency. I was shocked. No wonder he couldn’t get past that first interview!
There’s a big difference between a diversified search and a scattered search. Diversification with reason and purpose can be a strong strategic asset, but if there’s no rhyme or reason to the moves you make in your career, you just look scattered. Marcus’s search was absolutely scattered; it was noticeable how lost and confused he was, and that’s a major red flag for any employer.
His frustration and lack of direction had lead him to believe that he simply needed to build a new skill set, so after his 6-month search turned up dry for the nth time, he decided it was in his best interest pursue yet another degree and invest in graduate school.
That was two years ago.
Fast forward to 2019. Just a few months ago, Marcus came back to me and shared that even after earning that graduate degree, he is still stuck and struggling to move into a new space. Grad school ended up being an unnecessary expenditure when what he desperately needed was to just focus on his strategy and consolidate his toolkit to be ready for his dream job. With this newfound knowledge and readiness, he decided to start working directly with my team to develop a strategy that does work for him.
While he is making great progress getting everything dialed in in a way that works for him, I can’t help but think that all this could have been avoided if he had just faced the music earlier on. He lacked a plan and was avoiding what he really needed to do the most: take a deep dive into all the things he was doing wrong to figure out what he needed to do right.
Everyone has their own journey and this was Marcus’s. He’s finally getting the help he needs but he definitely cut it a little too close. His story reminds me just how much I’d hate to see this story repeat itself because I’m fully committed to seeing the design industry thrive and I hope that by reading this story you’ll be able to avoid going down the same path he did.
If Marcus’s story hits a little too close to home, it may be time for you to reexamine your own career, get off that hamster wheel, and start building a strategy that gets you to where you need to be. Imagine the feeling of finding your place in the design industry: that place where your skill set is most valued and you’re creating great impact. There is a place in design where you'll thrive, stay in it and make it big, but you need to find it before it’s too late. That window of opportunity won’t last forever. Get ready to move away from the sidelines and switch to the fast lane that will take you to your dream job. Please save me from hearing about yet another designer who fell out of the industry and schedule a Strategy Call with me today.