3 Signs that your Career Goal is Too Big

3 signs that your career goal is too big

Jeffrey has been in procurement for 15 years and he is tired of it. He went back to school recently and got his master’s in public policy and now he wants to do “something in regulatory policy.”

Oh, and he wants to move from Denver to New York.

Oh, and he needs to make a move quickly because his company is in trouble.

Oh, and he’s already overwhelmed and completely disorganized in his job search.

Time to get it under control! Jeffrey and I put together a plan and he’s rebooting his job search. My recommendations included prioritizing his goals and separating his job search into three efforts: Plan A, Plan B and Plan C.

How many Jefferies are out there? A lot. Is your next-step career goal too big? If your goal is for a career step within your company, it can also be too big.

If the employment market was thriving, companies were flush with open positions, and there was a shortage of candidates, then Jeffrey’s big, hairy, audacious goal (BHAG) might be realistic. However, it’s not. Today’s job market is quite the opposite: lackluster, competitive and lengthy for job seekers.

To help the Jeffrey mini-me’s out there, here are three signs that your goal is too big:

1. Too many BIG moving pieces.

The optimum number of things to change at one time is one. Try to keep the rest steady. If you are changing functions or departments, do that within your current company. If you are changing cities, stay in the same function. If you want to change industries, keep your function and city the same so you can focus on getting into your new industry.

2. No time or money for long-distance searches. No matter what, they require a bigger investment and take longer.

Bigger investment? Yes, you will probably need to fly yourself to the future city for a week or more in order to network and interview. You can do a lot of work long distance. However, at a certain point you need to invest in a trip to meet great connections and multiple companies. AND you will probably need to relocate yourself because relocation budgets are restricted. During my long-distance searches, the first sentence on my cover letters was always, “I will be moving to <city> for my next career move and would like to join your company.”

The longer time is due to the inability to network face-to-face, a bigger pipeline or funnel of job opportunities, time zone differences, and so much more.

3. Too much “I, I, I, me, me, me” and not enough “You, Your, Your Company”

I hate to be the one to break it to you, but it’s a buyer’s market out there with an average of more than 250 applications per position.

Does your résumé show the reader what you can do for them, or does it only talk about what you are looking for: “I want to leverage my background in…blah, blah, blah”?

This isn’t about you! It’s about your ability to meet the needs of the hiring manager. Are you reading the job descriptions in great detail and then pivoting your entire presentation to use their terms? Put yourself in their shoes: Would you hire you?

This change in your perspective from “me” to “you” is critically important to your success. Re-read and edit all of your job search communications and your interview answers – the ones that you have pre-prepared (right?) – and show the reader what you can do for them.

Make your primary next career-move GOAL a realistic one. Yes, stretch is good, but drastic changes away from what you know will take longer.

If you are organized and committed to your career change, try juggling two separate goals. For example, one close to home with no major changes and one targeting a single change — and see which one is successful first.

Use the comment section to ask your career-change questions. I want to hear from you!


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