Executive Pop Quiz: What is your concise, inspiring and clear job search goal? Similarly, what is your answer to the most common networking question “What are you looking for?” It is critical that each of you have your next step career goal written down, memorized and shared broadly with your network.
Executives, you have so many skills and experiences, and you are very clear on your past accomplishments and what you did well for your other companies. But you lack one of two things (or both): one, lacking clarity on what you want to do next and/or, two, lacking the ability to articulate your next stage goal in a compelling way.
Here are some examples of the most common (and poor) responses to “What kind of position are you looking for?”
- “I can do anything” (interpreted as someone not self-aware, not focused or not passionate about anything)
- “I’m looking for a challenging position where I can work with people and leverage my financial skills.” (squishy goal, all about you vs. what you can do for another)
- “Sales, Marketing, Business Development.” (too broad; three discreet functions)
- “I want to do the job your job description outlines.” (cheesy, trite, the kind of response a college graduate may say, but not appropriate for an executive)
- AND, the most common response is “Well, let me tell you about my background” followed by a long list of everything you have done in the last 20 years (not answering the question about your future goals at all)
There are so many more, but more helpful might be to share the three main job search tips about articulating your goal:
- Know what you are hunting. An executive job hunt implies you have a target. Is it big, brown and say ‘growl’ or does it have a white fluffy tail and tall ears? If you don’t know how to describe your goal, spend hours on any job search board like Monster.com and write down key words. Your network contacts want to help you. However, the squishier you are in your sharing, the less amount of help they can provide. The more confident and clear you are, the more likely they are to share opportunities or advice with you. The flip side of this important step is to know what you don’t want to do, too.
- Write down the characteristics. Organize the “features” of your target by the following:
- The function you target, as specific as possible (Sales Management, Marketing Research, Financial Controllership) Have some example titles at your level, based on the job description research you have done.
- The industry or industries you target
- Size of company
- Sample companies in your industries and sizes – at least 5
- Cities desired, if multiple, OR if just your current city, say so!
- Script your improved Goal Statement: Write out exactly what you will say to everybody. It’s okay to have two goals that are slightly disparate but there should be some explainable thread between the two.
- “I have two goals that I am actively pursuing now…”
- “I am seeking a VP of Marketing Communications in a Fortune 500 consumer goods company located in Chicago or Atlanta. Examples include Dial and Coca-Cola Corporation.”
- “I am well qualified for a role as Chief Operating Officer of a medium-size technology company in Austin, Texas.”
Executives, Cut the Crap, Get a Job! You can do so much better and leave a much more impactful impression if you show confidence and clarity in your description of your next stage career goal. Don’t keep your job search goal a secret and good luck!