When you were a child, you probably were asked this question quite often: What do you want to be when you grow up? As you got older, you were expected to know the answer. But with the number of career changes in the average jobseeker’s life, you might find yourself wondering again: What does the future hold for me?
In one study conducted by the Bureau of Labor Statistics, younger baby boomers held an average of 11.7 jobs from ages 18 to 48. During this same time, these individuals experienced an average of 5.6 periods of unemployment. With re-employment, some jobseekers made minor or major career changes. A construction worker may decide to start his own home-remodeling business. A newspaper reporter may become a TV news anchor. Or a physician may quit to become a comedian.
Having “career clarity” about where you are headed will not only help you identify what type of job you want to pursue, but it can also give you insight into the specific skills and qualifications you need in order to be looked at as a candidate for the role, and it may even help you identify who is hiring for the type of position you are seeking. Once you’re ready to apply for a position (or contact an organization about an unadvertised opportunity), your professional résumé writer will need your clarity about your future career direction in order to help you create effective career documents to secure job interviews and offers.
Your résumé and LinkedIn profile are not a “career obituary” of where you’ve been — they should be a forward-looking marketing document that showcases your skills, education, and experience in the context of where you are headed — with a strong emphasis on the value you can deliver to your prospective employer.
An effective professional résumé writer can take a diverse work history — for example, a 30-something who has worked in television news, as editor of a sports magazine, has experience in public relations at a small, local university, and who worked in an ad agency — and create a cohesive, compelling career story showcasing his qualifications as a press officer for an international sports team.
It’s finding the thread to sew together an eclectic work history — or finding a pattern in your previous positions within the same field — that can help set you — and your career documents — apart. Helping a prospective employer understand who you are — and, more important, what you can do for him or her — is the key. So deciding what you want to be “when you grow up” or even just “next” is critical.
How often have you been talking to a colleague about their job search and they say, “I’m not picky. I just want a job that pays more.” It’s not about being picky — or not being picky — it’s about being focused.
If you wanted a different car, and you were asked, “What kind of car do you want?,” you would benefit from being specific with your description. Two doors, or four? Sedan or SUV? Cloth seats or leather? New or used? What color? What make and model?
If you know what you want — whether that’s cars or careers — not only is it much easier to find it, but if you have clarity about the job you’re seeking, you can also tailor your résumé and cover letter to showcase how you are the ideal candidate for the position — cutting through the clutter of hundreds of other applicants.
Next time we will look at the two paths in obtaining “career clarity”