A common refrain among our clients is: “I just want to get any job, and I’ll take the rest from there.” There’s nothing wrong with needing a new job right away -- life costs money, after all -- but the whole process is easier if you can figure out what your long term career strategy is. Plus, going after jobs that will lead you toward your ultimate goal will mean fewer big, challenging transitions overall.
Having a career endgame in mind can be a specific title – like Head of Development at a streaming network – or more general – consistent work as a camera operator on reality TV series. It’s also totally okay for your career endgame to shift as you evolve. Even if you decide to pivot and take a different road, it’s best to start out with a destination in mind.
Here are some questions you can ask yourself to figure out what your career endgame is:
1. What day-to-day tasks do I enjoy doing? Do you enjoy managing others? Actively creating something? Developing ideas? Implementing logistics? Selling? Pitching? Communicating with clients? Generating reports? Building decks? Editing footage? Rigging lights? Designing graphics?
2. How much responsibility do I want to take on? Do you want to be judged on your work product alone, or do you want supervise a team? Do you enjoy mentoring others? Making strategic business decisions? Hiring and firing people? Managing budgets? With great power comes great responsibility, and it’s equally okay to decide that you do want to take on all the responsibilities that come with senior-level management or that you don’t.
3. What kind of content am I proud of? Is there a certain type of story you want to tell? An impact you want to make? Do you enjoy working on the same kind of content you like to watch, or would you rather preserve the magic of your favorite shows and movies and get into the behind-the-scenes of something you’d never watch? What kind of audience do you want to serve? How important is it for you to work on a hit show, an Oscar-winning film, a cult classic, or a beloved kids’ show? Do you care more about the process than the content?
4. Who do I like to work with? Do you prefer big teams or small teams? Do you like to work with the same people consistently, or switch it up? Do you prefer a client-vendor relationship or a boss-employee relationship? How independent are you in your work? Do you prefer a competitive environment or a collaborative one? Do you want to be surrounded by overachievers, or do you work better around people who are more chill and less ambitious?
5. What purpose does work serve for me? If you didn’t have to work to pay your bills, would you still work? How important is your work/life balance? How much does your job impact your conceptualization of your self-worth? Are there life goals or values you have that won’t align with a certain type of job or career?
We recommend checking in with yourself every 6 months to a year to ask these questions and make sure you’re on the right path. If you’re leaning into a job search, these questions are even more important, as they’ll help you target your search to those jobs that align with your ultimate goals. Be honest with yourself about what your dreams are, be open to those dreams changing, and be unafraid to pursue them.
-- Angela Silak and Cindy Kaplan