Can you answer, “What type of job are you looking for?” in two sentences? Hint – this is NOT the right answer: “A position in which my unique combination of business-building skills plugs in directly and supports those of a large company.” What does that REALLY say about you?

Here are more examples of the most common and WEAKEST job goals. Do you find yourself saying any of these?

James replied:A challenging position where I can leverage my skills with numbers and where there is an opportunity for growth.

James’s goal is too “squishy,” as it doesn’t have any specifics. Remember, anyone who asks you what you are looking for may be able to help you! So, the more specific and clear you can be, the better. When I hear responses like “challenging position,” I chuckle, since there is no such thing as a non-challenging position. And the job search process is not about you…it’s about you fitting into a buyer’s need. So, drop any references to your skills in your stated goal, such as “leverage my skills in…”

Joanne said: A reputable company that is known for treating their employees well and starting a career.”

Joanne’s goal describes just about every company out there. It’s not only squishy and soft, but it doesn’t show that she has really thought about what she is qualified for and passionate about.

Sally replied: “Something in the fashion business.

Sally’s response is simply stating a very big industry. Industries are not jobs. But it is a start, as it is good to have some interest in an industry or two. However, much more important is to know what type of job, based on the skills you have from your past experiences (including what you are not good at). Focus more on the function or department you see yourself working in.

John said:I can do anything.”

John’s response is the second most common job goal I hear. First, no you can’t. Second, it sends a number of bad signals to the interviewer, ranging from “I don’t know” to “I am desperate.” Most importantly, it shows a lack of interest in anything. Most employers view the flexible new college grad or flexible executive as someone who is simply unfocused and directionless and, thus, a high-risk hire. Hiring managers want to hire people who want the job described, not somebody who thinks he can do anything.

Maria said:I don’t know, but I know I don’t want retail.”

The most popular and weakest type of response to “What are you looking for?” is I DON’T KNOW. The listener is not interested in what you don’t want to do, either.

Keep reading and I’ll help you out of this dilemma, as well as how to avoid the other non-goals above.

Too many candidates try to be all things to all people or they just want to describe their background and have the listener figure it out.

The fix: Sit down, study job postings, and write a specific and succinct description of the positions you will hunt for; your goal profile. Good example: “A director of human resources position in a medium-sized high-tech firm in Austin.”

Why is having a goal profile important? Because hiring managers want to hire someone who is committed and passionate about their job, their company, and their industry. And because it will help you increase the odds of winning a job, spending your time researching in your target areas, and will help you build confidence.

Get a copy of my Cut the Crap (CTC) Goal Profile here:


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