Do you go car shopping without knowing what you want? Do you play a sport without knowing where the goal posts are, where the boundaries are on the court, or where the golf pin flag is? Well, then why do you apply to jobs without having a clear goal? Here are the bad things that can happen when you go job searching without a goal: You won’t get to the interview stage, you won’t do well in the interview if you do, and you will waste time. So many job-seekers tell me how frustrated they are. However, when I ask them what they are searching for, here is what I hear:
- “…a challenging job where I can work with people and do great things.”
- “…a position that leverages my skills in finance and people skills”
- “…here is my background (blah, blah, blah)…they don’t answer the question since they don’t have a goal!
Why is having a goal important? Because people you network with want to help you but can only engage if you are clear and precise about what you are hunting for. Because hiring managers want to hire someone who is committed and passionate about their job, their industry and their company. Because it will help you increase the odds of winning a job, spending your time researching in the area you aim at, and will help you build confidence.
What if you don’t know what you are hunting for? Then that is your mission for the next 1-2 weeks. Stop applying and start researching what your bulls-eye will be. Use the “Law of 3’s”: Find 3 industries, 3 functions (sales, marketing, finance, customer service, operations, etc.) and 3 companies within each industry in your geography, and 3 position titles that match the level you are in terms of skills and experience. There are so many resources to help you that are online or at the library.
What if you do know, but can’t articulate it? Write it down. Review it with friends and family and network contacts and ask them if it is clear and precise. Avoid “squishy” or lofty goals that leave the listener wondering what you mean. Trick: Draw a dart board on a piece of paper or in PowerPoint. Then, draw a line out from the bulls-eye and list:
- City or cities you will hunt in (maximum of 3 cities to start)
- 3 Industries (manufacturing, technology, consumer goods, services, etc.)
- 3 job functions (inside sales, outside sales, customer service, analyst, project manager, etc.)
- Size company (Fortune 500 Headquarter, Fortune 500 branch office, Large local, medium local, small company, start-up)
Now, test yourself. If I walked up to you today and asked “What type of position are you searching for?” what would you say? Here are some examples of a good goals:
“I am looking for a financial analyst position in the banking industry here in San Francisco or Los Angeles.”
“I have two goals for employment here in Chicago: One is for a customer service manager position in a Fortune 500 corporation and the other is to move into inside sales, also for a Fortune 500 corporation.”
Where will you use this goal? First, don’t let your goal be your best kept secret! Share it with your network, at networking events you should be going to, and in e-mails to friends and family. Most importantly, stay true to your goal as you do your research about these industries, functions and to focus your job opportunity search.
In summary, spend time to develop your Job Search Goal and “Cut the Crap, Get a Job” (pre-order my forthcoming book of the same title here)