Your second job is the first opportunity to display, for yourself and for anyone reading your resume in your future, how far you have progressed in your career. For the vast majority of people, the time will come when you finally decide to move on from your current employer.
Whether it's because you’ve learned all you can or because of circumstances out of your control, you’ll need to find a company that will continue giving you the opportunity to show your value, enjoy your work, and advance as a professional.
Your second job is also crucial to the overall direction of your career. Where you decide to go and what title you decide to take can dictate what opportunities you're exposed to later, the promotional ladder ahead of you, and the industry you might wind up in for the majority of your working life.
As you’re searching for your second job, it’s important to know what you want and what to look for. Here are a few things to pay attention to.
Address what was missing
You will learn a lot about your own desires out of a workplace and employer at your first job. You’ll learn about your preferred company culture, how you like to be managed, how you respond to adversity and accolades, and how you are expected to work.
Your understanding of these job parameters will come both from what is there and what is missing in your job. It’s your responsibility in your second job search to address what was missing and focus on keeping the things you liked.
If you enjoyed being given the freedom to take projects in your own hands and own them from start to finish, it’s important to focus on finding a new role that will enable you to keep doing so. If you disliked the lack of direction given by your boss, find a company where you will be given clear leadership. If your company was great about giving you meaningful work but didn’t give you enough in the way of professional development, look for a company that focuses on providing those opportunities to its employees.
Make a list of what you loved about your last job. Make a list of what you hated about it. Prioritize those two lists based on what must stay, what must go, and what you are willing to sacrifice. And target companies that will enable you to tick off the most important items listed. That way, you’ll feel a true sense of progress from one role to the next rather than a sense of more of the same.
Evaluate your new goals
When you first looked for your first job and joined your first employer, your career goals were based on your education, internships, and experience to that point. But throughout your experience at that role, you should have learned a lot about your own career goals.
Those goals you had earlier in your professional life might be wildly different from what they are now. Or they might be different in subtle ways. Whichever the case may be, approaching your second job search without taking that change into account can be damaging to your professional growth. It might result in a bad decision or a hastily accepted job offer that doesn’t take into account your newly refined goals.
Take the time to analyze the reasons why you joined your last company. What were your career goals? What path were you trying to take? And does that reflect what you want to do today? Does it reflect what you imagine your future to be at this point? Your second job is the first and easiest chance for you to make a radical shift in your career. If you truly want to work in a different industry or take advantage of a different skillset, now's the time.
Do an evaluation of your career goals at this junction. It’s the best way to avoid sticking to the career goals of a younger, less experienced version of yourself. And once you figure out your new goals, tailor your job search to reflect them.
Analyze multiple paths
Your second job will be a chance for you to specialize more deeply in a specific field. In many ways, entry level roles allow you to act as both a generalist and a specialist. While you are expected to perform specific functions, your education and growth will allow you to take on a wide variety of projects and tasks.
Your second job will begin to narrow that focus to the skills you showed the greatest aptitude in. A great example of this is the difference between a marketing assistant and an email marketing manager. Another example is a sales coordinator taking on an account management role. These shifts allow you to specialize in a field.
It’s important that you consider the multiple paths your career can go in when you’re evaluating options for a second job. A junior software developer looking for a second job can specialize in front end web development, mobile development, or any number of other directions. Whatever your role is, you have multiple paths you can go down.
Take the time to analyze those paths. Find out which ones will give you the greatest job satisfaction. If you want to go with something familiar, you can continue down the same path and take the next logical step in your role. If you want to learn something new, you can look for openings that allow you to expand your skillset. It’s early enough in your career where whatever you decide to do will be acceptable and logical to a company looking to hire you.
Your second job is a big opportunity to accelerate your career. To capture that opportunity, it’s important that you land at the right role and company. So as you’re starting your second job hunt, make sure you pay attention to what your experience has taught you and where your career goals can take you.