1Article from Paul Slezak

One of the first questions I ask any candidate during an interview is “what are you really looking for in your next role?”.

Think carefully for a moment about how you would answer this particular question. Your response can really determine what direction the interview takes.

I remember interviewing Shelly a long time ago, and her response was “I don’t know exactly what I’m looking for; but I definitely know what I’m not looking for”.

We then spent quite a bit of time drilling down and fleshing this out until I really understood where she was coming from.

I know many candidates who would be feeling exactly the same as Shelly but who are perhaps too scared to admit it. Instead they make up a clichéd answer incorporating “challenge, more accountability or management responsibility”.

Clichéd answers are of no help to recruiters.

Then there’s my question “why are you really sitting in front of me today?” Again, have a think about how you would respond if a recruiter asked you that.

I’ve been asking this question quite a bit over the last few weeks and one particular candidate’s reaction reminded me of Shelly’s response all those years ago.

Karl said, ‘I’m uncomfortably comfortable”.

Don’t worry, I needed a few seconds to process his answer too, but I could understand exactly where he was coming from.

He’s been in his role for a few years now. He knows he’s good at it. His boss knows he’s good at it. And despite having seen several of his colleagues unfortunately let go since the beginning of the year, he knows his job is safe.

“And for some bizarre reason that’s my problem”, he continued.

What was actually bothering Karl was that he felt he almost felt he no longer needed to deliver superior results, that he was “spending too long on cruise control”, and that his “ambitious streak was dwindling”.

The thing that really impressed me was that he was not only clearly aware of this, but he was actually willing to admit it and take the steps to do something about it.

Staying within one’s comfort zone can obviously make you feel safe for a while. But if you genuinely need to be challenged or kept on your toes, “comfortable” can become quite a dangerous place from a career perspective.

If, like Karl, you might be feeling concerned that you’re losing motivation because your job has become completely stress-free or predictable, then you need to do something about it.

It’s certainly not a matter of jumping ship – after all that could make you feel very uncomfortable very quickly.

If “comfortable” is no longer enough, and you need more responsibility, additional projects, and you want to be stretched, you need to speak to your manager as soon as possible. Your upcoming mid-year (or annual) performance review is the perfect forum in which to raise this.

If you keep quiet about it, you’ll start to lose interest and that’s not a good thing either. If you make them aware of how you’re feeling and they can’t help you, then at least you know you’ve got some serious thinking to do.

About The Author : Paul Slezak has an extensive background in recruitment and advertising both locally and internationally. He is the founder of 2 dots (www.2dots.com.au) – a boutique business that facilitates career or business change for individuals, teams and organisations.

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