by Dorothy Tannahill Moran
Copyright (c) 2010 Dorothy Tannahill Moran
These issues seem so basic that I think they get skipped over, yet, they are often the central problem many job seekers have. Clarification is critical in order to provide the necessary focus on the jobs/job titles you are pursuing.
In order to truly focus your job search strategy and align all of your actions, you need to concentrate on 2 or 3 specific jobs you want to find. Whether you think this number is high or low, the reasons for this number are:
- Too few jobs. If you pursue only one job/job title you are probably limiting yourself and may miss great opportunities with such a narrow focus. Think of this like the financial planners statement of 'diversifying your portfolio'. The purpose of doing that is to not over-invest in something that might not turn out in your favor. For the same reason, you need a bit of diversification with the jobs you are pursuing.
- Too many jobs. I have seen job seekers with loads of great work experience cast their job search in so many directions they had no focus at all. I understand the temptation for this type of person. They may have been successful in all of those various jobs they performed and think they would still do well in them. I don\'t disagree they probably would do well. However, the thinking with this type of job seeker is the idea that the wider you throw the net of job search, the better the results will be. Not true. This approach may sound logical on the surface, but it lacks focus and direction. Imagine sitting in front of a prospective employer and telling them 8 possible jobs you could do? Rather than being impressed, they end up thinking you can\'t do anything well. This is the same impression you leave throughout your job search. Those who could help you, can\'t figure out what you\'re going after. You spread yourself too thin.
You do want all of your actions to be impactful and worthwhile, therefore, it is important to be very clear on the 2 or 3 specific jobs you expect to find. Just like most things we do when we have focused on a specific outcome, we tend to be much more successful.
Clarification not only means the number and types of jobs you are pursuing at any given time, but also clarity around how each job and your personal brand match up. You need to be clear on the requirements for the positions along with where those jobs most likely exist.
Now that I have outlined what I mean by Clarity, let me outline the most prevalent mistakes I see and what to do about them.
- Mistake: Too many jobs, unable to narrow it down to 2 or 3. Solution: If you think you might be guilty of this, you need to prioritize the various jobs you have been pursuing. How you prioritize them is up to you. You might pick the top 2 or 3 where you think you will be the most competitive. Or you might rank them based on pay, values of yours they support, work environment and a host of other considerations. Whatever your criteria are, narrow the field and focus your efforts on just your top 2 or 3. Go deep, not wide.
- Mistake: Too vague. I have seen job seekers almost unwilling to get very specific about what job(s) they were pursuing. Sometimes these people are using their job search as an opportunity to change careers, but they are unclear about what that next career is. These people may have transferable skills that can be used in multiple jobs. Whatever the case is, they are not confident enough in what they are pursuing to clearly state what they truly want. This lack of clarity eventually impacts such things as the resume and how they discuss their direction with others. You can\'t be vague in your job search. o Solution: Almost like the previous solution, you must put a 'stake in the ground'. Pick out those couple of jobs where you will be the most competitive or will exude the most confidence in pursuing. A way to test your decision is to test it out on new people you meet. Upon sharing your direction, observe the other person\'s reaction to you. Was it clear? Did you feel you were confident in what job you were going after?
- Mistake: Not really a job. It might be hard to imagine this one, but there are people out there who think a job is 'something in accounting'. New college graduates tend to do this the most, but I\'ve seen experienced people as well. This type of person is really unclear about what job might be appropriate. They know a field, but they haven\'t translated that into actual job titles. When you say you are looking into an industry or a field, you aren\'t specifying a job. Again, your entire job search will be undirected if you can\'t articulate each specific job. o Solution: Do some research. There are libraries and ton\'s of online resources all geared to help you drill down from a field or industry to specific jobs within those broad descriptors.
- Mistake: Not clear on job requirements. While the biggest and most frequent issue with clarity is around how a person defines the job they are pursuing, there is the occasional person who isn\'t clear about job requirements. This translates a couple of ways: 1. They don\'t know where these jobs are. o Solution: Not all jobs exist in all types of companies or company structures. You have to be clear about how the jobs you\'re going after fit into companies, organizational structures and industries. If you are unclear about where your job likely resides you waste time looking in the wrong place. 2. They don\'t know how to focus the resume for the specific job. o Solution: It\'s vital to know what the job requirements are so that you can feature those elements in your resume. While it may be true that your background might be the same thing you\'re pursuing, if you are going after more than one job, chances are high there are some differences. Understanding what those are will allow you to expand or shrink information in your resume so you are telling your story as the best possible fit.
Clarity is a simple concept, but sometimes harder to achieve than you might think. The value of clarity is immeasurable. It will focus your efforts, making your search for that great job easier and faster.
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