What “I Need A New Job” Really Means.

J.T. O’Donnell

Posted: 13 May 2015 12:16:24 | Updated: 15 May 2015 09:26:38

Using Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs as a baseline, we can map out that, depending on how much of a person’s life needs are being met, their reasons for needing a new job can be directly tied to their perception of their current situation.

In 2015, we surveyed 1,000,000+ CAREEREALISM.com readers and asked them what their biggest career goal was for the year. 88% said they’re looking for a new job. This doesn’t surprise me. There isn’t a day that passes where someone reaches out to me by phone, email, or social media and says, “J.T., can you help me? I need a new job.” However, most people don’t understand the meaning of that statement varies quite a bit, depending on the person.

The “I Need A New Job” Spectrum
I have been career coaching for 12+ years. The last 5 1/2 years of my career have been focused on the study and development of online career coaching tools for the mass population. Why? School teaches you everything except how to get a job. And, with the average length of a job being just 18 months, every job is temporary. Which means, job search is now a skill every professional needs to survive. To make matters worse, up until recently, it was assumed that only professional athletes and high-ranking corporate executives could afford good career coaching. But now, thanks to the information age and technology, it’s finally possible for the everyday person to get access to quality career coaching – with the first step towards getting them the help they need being the understanding of where they fall on the, “I Need A New Job” Spectrum.

Using Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs as a baseline, we can map out that,depending on how much of a person’s life needs are being met, their reasons for needing a new job can be directly tied to their perception of their current situation.

This creates a spectrum for the “I need a new job,” statement as follows:
Physiological (I need more than a job.)

  • I don’t have a way to pay for food, water, and shelter – I can’t feed myself or my family.
  • I am getting less than 6 hours/night sleep due to lack of basic human needs.
  • I spend my days trying to figure out how to get money as fast as possible – no matter what I have to do. (i.e. I’d even consider doing something illegal if it meant I could get the money I need.)
  • I am physically sick from the extended stress of not being able to take care of myself.
  • I have tried everything I know how to do to get a job – and failed.
  • I have deep depression and anxiety because I am convinced I am in a helpless state.

Safety (I need a job.)

  • I’m going to lose my place of shelter in less than 30 days.
  • I am going into debt daily and can’t get out.
  • I’m using all my savings (or, already have).
  • In less than 60 days,I am not going to be able to support my family without assistance.
  • I am getting less than 7 hours/night sleep due to anxiety and fear of loss.
  • My physical health is starting to suffer from the on-going stress.

Love & Belonging (I need a career.)

  • I’m embarrassed about what I do for work.
  • I am under-employed.
  • My work keeps me from being able to have good relationships with family and friends.
  • I have a dead-end job.
  • My friends and family have better work situations than I do.
  • I spend a lot of time thinking about how my career is failing me.

Esteem (I need control over my career.)

  • I’m a good worker who deserves more recognition.
  • I’m worth more money than I’m making.
  • My potential isn’t being realized – and that’s embarrassing to me.
  • I’m not doing something I truly care about – I feel like I have ‘golden handcuffs’ because I’m working for someone else for the pay and benefits, not because it’s what I want to do.
  • I’m not getting the respect I deserve.
  • I should be working with smarter, better people.

Self-actualization (I need to maximize the impact my career can have.)

  • I know my strengths and want to use them to help others.
  • I have a passion for a problem that I want to solve by working with others.
  • Working is something I need to do to be a healthy person.
  • I can’t do this alone, I need team players that I admire and respect because they do things I can’t.
  • I want my work to make a difference so I can say I made an impact while I was alive.
  • Money is needed to be healthy and stable so I can do the work that needs to be done to change the world.

As you can see, one person’s reasons for stating, “I need a new job,” can vary greatly from another – creating confusion and conflict if they aren’t coached properly to support their real need.

NOTE: Things Get Worse When You Fall Backwards On The Spectrum
Knowing where you are on the spectrum can help you identify tools and resources that will let you climb to the next level. However, be warned, when you unexpectedly fall down the spectrum, it can be harder to climb back up.

How Job Loss Impacts the “Hierarchy of Needs” for a Job Seeker

When a person reaches a higher level on the, “I Need A Job” Spectrum, and then has a setback (i.e. unexpected job loss), they will go through a version of the Kubler-Ross Stages of Grief, which can often push them down Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs, directly impacting the amount of time and their ability to find a job.

How Job Seekers Today Spiral Down The “I Need a Job” Spectrum
Because we aren’t properly skilled in job search and career development, here’s what a typical job search experience is like in 2015:

  1. Become disengaged from current job and either quit, get fired, or laid-off.
  2. Ponder over job situation for several days to several weeks.
  3. Follows the minimum guidelines for qualifying for unemployment, but essentially, takes time off before looking to “recover” from previous bad work experience. Wants to take time to figure out what kind of job they want next.
  4. Finally decides to apply to jobs, but only applies to jobs that they think they are qualified for, regardless of whether they are a 100% match to the job description.
  5. Wait several weeks and get no response.
  6. Apply to more jobs out of desperation, becoming less choosy and opting for a, “spray and pray” approach where they apply to anything they might remotely be a fit for.
  7. Wait several weeks and get no response.
  8. Depression sets in – feeling very alone in their search.
  9. Start looking for job search advice online.
  10. Decide to re-do the resume and spend money on a resume writer.
  11. Apply to a bunch of jobs with “new & improved” resume.
  12. No response.
  13. Depression firmly takes hold.
  14. Withdraws from society out of embarrassment. Wants to avoid friends, family, and others who continue to ask about their job search and why they can’t get hired.
  15. Stops applying for jobs – what’s the point?
  16. Starts to vent on social media (which is trackable by recruiters).
  17. Spends more time looking for *free* resources to help.
  18. The end of unemployment checks starts to be on the horizon.
  19. Seeks career coaching out of fear of running out of money, but can’t afford to spend a lot (if anything) due to dire financial situation.
  20. Learns 80% of all jobs are gotten via referral and that 8 out of 10 of their online applications were tossed by the Applicant Tracking System (ATS).
  21. Realize they haven’t been properly looking for work and need to start over and build a network and a personal brand in order to get a good job that they actually want, both of which takes time and money.
  22. Forced to take any job they can get, or are pushed to the point of needing outside assistance.
  23. Depression due to failure creates a crisis of confidence.
  24. Loses or quits job again (story repeats).

HOW TO BREAK THE CYCLE: Job seekers must be drawn into a process that enable them to change their behavior patterns so they can get different, better results.

Where Are You On The “I Need A Job” Spectrum?

I’d love to know where readers see themselves on this spectrum and why. Share your stories. Tell me how you climbed the spectrum. Especially, if you had a setback. I want to know what you are doing to close your gap in knowledge and build your job search skill sets so you can ensure your needs are met.

Author Bio: J.T. O’Donnell has 18+ years of experience in the development of professional HR tools and resources. She has delivered 200+ presentations to more than 10,000 professionals on a wide variety of career topics.

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