“If you don’t know where you are going, any road will get you there.” – Cheshire Cat, Alice in Wonderland
Have a Clear Career Focus
I’ve seen both new college graduates and those who have been working for decades completely miss the boat on defining a career focus.
College graduates may not have any idea about what type of job they want to pursue so they may not even list a career objective on their resume. They also will fall into the trap of accepting any job that comes along rather than defining what they want and then going after their dream job.
On the other end of the spectrum, I often find professionals who have been out in the work force for decades, who took the first job that came along just out of college, and then kept accepting whatever jobs came along in their career. These types of professionals will wake up one day and wonder – where am I and how did I get here?
Both the new college graduate, and the seasoned professional who is climbing the wrong ladder would do well to take some time to really discover what their dream life (and career) should look like.
Here are a few examples of job seekers who do not have a clear focus:
- College graduate seeking an entry-level information technology opportunity in an organization
- Seasoned professional seeking a marketing opportunity in an organization
Here are a few examples of a more focused job seeker’s objective
- College graduate seeking an entry-level opportunity in mobile app development
- Seasoned professional seeking a Quantitative Market Research opportunity in an organization
Unfocused Job Targets:
- Finance Professional
- Marketing Manager
Focused Job Targets:
- Chief Financial Officer
- VP Supply Chain
- Social Media Manager or Market Research Manager
A job seeker will find that his search is greatly accelerated by having a clear career focus. It may seem counterintuitive that the more you focus, the faster you land a job, but it’s true. By having a clear focus, you will pinpoint your efforts on the right companies and the right hiring managers, and none of your efforts will be wasted. When you share with others exactly what you’re looking for, they clearly know who they should refer you to.
It’s the same way for businesses. A business with a very narrow niche will have an easier time attracting the right customers. For example, a photographer who specializes in “Newborn photography” is focused and will draw in customers who have an exact need for his or her services.
Here are some ways to define your focus:
- Go to indeed.com and look at job postings for sample jobs you might be interested in. Read them and see which ones you are qualified for and which ones you have an interest for. Hold onto these as you will use industry keywords in your resume.
- Talk to people who are doing what you might like to do to learn more about the profession
- Research career ideas inside the Occupational Outlook Handbook at http://www.bls.gov/ooh/
Beyond this, as a Career Coach we can go through numerous exercises to help you define your dream life – but that’s a topic for a different (and upcoming) article.
Take some time today to define what it is you’re looking for as a job seeker. The more focused you are on what you’re seeking, the easier and faster your job search is going to be.