I recently read a Forbes article 5 Things To Do Before Quitting Your Job. Incidentally, Forbes also posted this great quote by Tanya Tarr "If you don't know what truly motivates you, you really don't know what will satisfy you." Generally, by the time I've started working with somebody they have already made the decision to leave their current position. The question we must often tackle is this; where do you want to land? If you can't pinpoint why you want to leave you are likely to find yourself back in the same situation.
The advice in the article referenced above is very similar to the advice I give my job seekers. And that is to figure out why you aren't happy at your current job so you don't repeat the same mistakes. Is it the company culture? The job itself? The industry? The answer is different for everybody.
BREAK IT DOWN
So how do you figure out the right position? Break it down. I suggest starting a "wish list". This list should contain things you would like to see in your next position as well as things you would like to avoid. What tasks do you really enjoy? What tasks do you hope to never do again? What kind of culture makes you happy? How about location? Company size? Travel? Nothing is too silly or too petty to add to this list. Eventually you will see a pattern that will help direct you to the right position in the right organization.
DO YOUR RESEARCH
When you start the search for your next position, step outside of your comfort zone. Traditional job seeking means finding job postings, applying, then waiting to hear back and hoping for the best. The internet has made finding open positions easier, increasing the number of ads we come across each day. Rather than blindly applying for all that seem relevant, spend a few minutes researching the company before applying. Do they appear to be the type of company you want to work for? You won't always find everything you need to know, but it is a good first step.
QUALITY OVER QUANTITY
Focus your time and energy on positions that are a good fit. This applies to the company culture as well as the position itself. It is ok to apply to something if you don't meet 100% of the requested skills (80% is a good rule of thumb), but don't apply for positions you know you wouldn't be happy in.
NETWORK, NETWORK, NETWORK
Finally, spend some time networking. Most higher level positions are never posted online. So how do you find out about them? Ask around. Talk to others in your industry. Attend industry events. Research companies that might be a good fit for you and reach out to them.
Take control of your job search and you will find yourself in a better place.