Executive Job Search Top Mistake #5 of 6 — Unclear Career Goal

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.

I’m Dana Manciagli, author of Cut the Crap, Get a Job! and I see two roadblocks when I coach executive job seekers:

ONE, lacking clarity on what you want to do next and

TWO, lacking the ability to articulate your next position 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” The listener translates this 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.” This is what I call a squishy goal, all about you vs. what you can do for another)
  • “Sales, Marketing, Business Development.” (too broad; three discreet functions)
  • OR, 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:

  1. Know what you are hunting. If you don’t know how to describe your goal, spend hours on any job search board like Ladders, Indeed or Monster.com and write down key words. The more confident and clear you are, the more likely your network will share opportunities or advice with you.
  2. 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
  • Script your improved Goal Statement: Write out exactly what you will say to everybody.
    • “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, don’t keep your job search goal a secret and good luck!