Many of my clients who are actively looking for work naively hope they won’t be asked this question: “What type of job are you looking for?”
“I don’t really know”, may be an accurate reply, but it will not move the conversation in the right direction.
People who are not clear about their job target or fearful about being “too picky” in this tight job market, need to figure out an apt response to this inevitable question or they will avoid opportunities for networking that could result in useful contacts or job leads.
Having a good reply to the question “what do you want?” does not necessarily mean that you have to name a specific title or position. For example, a prospective client was on the mark when he said, "I don't believe I need to tell people with whom I'm networking what job I'm looking for, but rather, what skills I have developed that I’d like to use in my next job".
I wholeheartedly agree that identifying key competencies is essential when it comes to focusing a conversation about your job target. Having examples of times when you have demonstrated these competencies may come in handy if the person with whom you are speaking wants to know more.
Eventually you will need to connect what you do well with employers and positions that utilize these skills. If you are considering a significant career shift, this is connection is particularly important and may be difficult to figure out initially.
Here are steps to help prepare you to communicate your job target:
- Review your work history and determine the skills, talents and attributes that you consistently brought to your positions.
- Create a résumé that effectively and clearly presents those skills. If you are changing careers or industries, consider a functional format for your résumé.
- Arrange meetings with people who work in organizations where those skills are important. Be clear that your reason for meeting is to receive help connecting your
skills and interests with positions where these skills are utilized.
- Once you have identified one or several appealing possibilities, begin to shift your approach from asking for information about the jobs to requesting advice on how to secure a position.
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