Why a Great Job Search Goal Will Get You Hired Faster
Developing a clear job search goal is a key step before you begin hunting for your next career move. It is important to know how to create a great job goal, not just a good one. Many job seekers out there are applying to positions without a clear sense as to what they want to do next. Others have what they think is a job goal, but it’s poorly defined.
I recently met Pamela who sent her résumé to nine different job postings and got no results. After working with her, I discovered she had applied to be a project manager, a sales representative, and a business operations manager. And, while she may be qualified for all, she didn’t have a focus or a compelling story about any of them. The solution to this situation is that prior to applying to any position in the future, you have to develop your job search goal.
Ineffective Job Search Goals
Sometimes it helps to know what a job search goal is NOT. Here are real responses to the question: “What type of position are you looking for?”
- A challenging position where I can leverage my skills and where there’s an opportunity for growth.
- Something in the fashion business. I can do anything. I know I don’t want to do retail.
Neither of these are acceptable goals. Let’s break them down.
Saying you are looking for a “challenging position” is classic. This response has no specifics. Who would ever ask for a non-challenging position? When indicating that you want to “leverage my skills,” you need to understand—and this may come as a shock—the job search process isn’t about you. It’s about you fitting into an employer’s need. Avoid the “l-word,” “leverage” altogether.
Where it mentions “opportunity for growth,” realize that there is opportunity in any company. You may want upward mobility but keep those desires to yourself. You don’t want to come across like you’re going to take this job and ask for a promotion in six months. The opportunity for growth is what you make of the position after you land it.
Indicating that you are looking for “something in the fashion business” is too broad. You can state an industry, but an industry is not a job. Focus more on the function of the department versus the industry.
One of the worst things you can say is, “I can do anything.” First, you can’t do everything. Second, it sends a signal of “I don’t know,” or “I’m desperate.” It shows you may lack focus and could be a high-risk hire. Finally, no one wants to hear what you don’t want to do.
A Great Job Search Goal Statement
Ok, so how do you go about setting a solid job search goal? Here are two tricks to developing a great job goal statement:
- Err on the very specific side. You can always edit it later. It is much harder to take a ‘squishy’ goal and try to get specific.
- Read your stated goal to friends and family for input. See if they understand it the first time without any explanation.
To create a great job search goal, you need to window shop your industry and narrow down your job goals. Window shopping means learning what the market is looking for, learning the current terminology and buzzwords, identifying the top skills, and listing out key words and phrases. Narrow down your job search goals by scouring the internet for possible functions, occupations and vocations. Look through job search websites (don’t apply, just read job descriptions). Print out 10 jobs that interest you and circle keywords they have in common. Read job descriptions in their entirety; identify the functions, occupations or tasks you could see yourself doing…every day.
Fill in the blanks to craft your new job search goal:
I’m seeking a <function> position in the <industry> with a <size> corporation in <city>.
Now, let’s practice:
- Question: Pamela, what type of role are you looking for?
- Pamela’s new answer: Thank you for asking! I’m seeking a digital marketing manager position in the technology industry with a large company here in Chicago.
- Question: Wow, great, and can you give me some company names you are targeting?
- Pamela: Well, yes, <company>, <company> and <company>. Do you know anyone at these companies who I may contact?
See where this is going? The clearer and more prepared you are to engage with your network, recruiters and total strangers you meet on LinkedIn, the more engagement and results you will get. If you are actively searching today without a job search goal, STOP and go do the goal-setting work. You can do this!