Job Search: Define Your Goals

A friend of mine just landed a job. Congratulations to her as the job market is shriveling up. I won’t mention her name for fear it could cause complications at her new job but many of you know her.

She hasn’t worked for a company in 17 years, give or take, and has lived quite successfully as a consultant. However, she became enamored by the possibility of helping companies directly in her line of expertise.

She gave some thought to what she wanted to do and wrote this document, republished with her permission.


Overall function
I want to provide strategic direction that integrates new and social media opportunities for a dynamic organization. I see this function as working collaboratively with many departments and functions such as marketing, communications, PR, recruiting and retention, customer service, community management, investor relations and product development.

About new media and social media
I’m defining these terms not just as technology and communication tools, such as blogging, YouTube, Flicker, Twitter, Facebook, podcasts, social bookmarking and social networking, but also as a new realm of communications with a distinctly different culture that includes activities such as ““

    User-generated content

  • Conversations and comments
  • Personal branding and online profiles
  • Personal and personable content
  • Community management
  • De-institutionalizing of information
  • Rating content
  • Tagging
  • Link, links, links “¦ and more links.

My ideal job looks like –

  • Working across a number of departments ““ marketing and communications, sales and business development, HR for recruiting and retention, IT, customer service and PR.
  • Providing strategic direction, internal consulting and project management.
  • Interacting with staff at many levels, including executives, managers, creative teams, technical staff and admin.
  • Designing, implementing and managing projects.
  • Keeping abreast of emerging new media technologies and trends.

I am less interested in work defined by digital media maintenance, e.g.

  • Keeping a website current.
  • Managing online advertising and email campaigns.
  • Handling technical functions of a company’s digital communications.

I am more interested in —

  • Being at the forefront of new media.
  • Identifying opportunities and developing strategies using new media.
  • Designing, implementing and managing projects.
  • Internal education, integrating new media and expanding an organization’s capacity.

Company / Environment
The environment in which I want to work is an organization that —

  • Already has a strong brand, marketing department and PR component.
  • Values creative business strategies supporting both short- and long-term goals.
  • Has leadership that is open and pushing to be an adaptive and dynamic company.
  • Has leaders who know they need to do something different ““ and fast, but may not have any strategy or plans yet.

The type of organization I want to work for is —

  • A large corporation, even a national brand.
  • Military organizations and federal government, or a government contractor tasked with bringing social media functions into the government.
  • A small municipality with robust funding for creative economic and community development.
  • I am less interested in nonprofit organizations.
  • The industry in which I work is of less importance to me than the job function.

Location

  • Company location is not important.
  • Willing to travel.
  • Looking to work in a creative and flexible environment, where technology and online
    communications are robustly supported; meeting space is beautiful, and productivity and
    results are valued over face time.

Notice how she defines exactly what she does and does not want. She knows specifics, down to the detail, on the principles of her employment. She knows that she may not be able to detail specifically which company or organization she wants to but she knows specifically the role she is looking for and what she wants to accomplish.

As unfortunate as this is, the economy is growing worse and more people are looking for work. You may be one of them. Instead of hitting the job boards with dervish-like ferocity, take a day or two alone and in a quiet place and write your own roadmap.

Knowing specifically what your goals are will greatly increase your chances of finding meaningful employment where you can do what you love and love what you do.

Published by

Aaron Brazell

Aaron Brazell is a Baltimore, MD-based WordPress developer, a co-founder at WP Engine, WordPress core contributor and author. He wrote the book WordPress Bible and has been publishing on the web since 2000. You can follow him on Twitter, on his personal blog and view his photography at The Aperture Filter.

3 thoughts on “Job Search: Define Your Goals”

  1. Given the wonderful world of LinkedIn and social/job networking sites, I’ve found that jobs are searching for me. I have not done any proactive job outreach.

    Still, your friend makes some great points about what you really want and some issues to fact check – passion and purpose seem to be a key, right?

    For me it’s simple. On leaving Topaz Partners (June 30 meant I was done after close to six years) and previous PR/Marcom/Biz Dev stops at Schwartz Communications, FOX Sports, Piers Park Sailing and NU’s Center for the Study of Sport in Society, my goals are clear …

    I want to work with people I like on projects that are interesting. Oh yeah, I want to be paid too much.

    Search me (@NoOneYouKnow) or LinkedIn and if you feel the same way – let’s talk.

  2. I was an IT Recruiter for 8 years and this is great advice. While we start our careers throwing a resume out there and waiting to see what sticks, there comes a time when we cross over and become professionals. As professionals it’s not about quantity, it’s about applying for the right jobs. Just like a recruiter’s job is to bring in the fewest but best fit candidates and save hiring managers’ time and effort, it’s your job to be equally as specific about your needs/wants – not only to yourself but also to those you are interested in working for/with. It really does make a difference.

  3. ‘Tis me and “My Ideal Job” mentioned here in Aaron’s post. One of the surprising benefits to creating this document is that it made it easy for me to reach out to my network and let them know I was transitioning from full-time consulting, to FT work … and, yes, some PT consulting, too.

    By contacting folk in my network and sending them “My Ideal Job,” I was able to invite them in to my vision. Sending people a resume, when they may be in my network of contacts, but not necessarily in my field of work, was a bit too direct for me and, imo, not my style. I mean, what is someone going to do with my resume in their email inbox? Now, sometimes, after getting “My Ideal Job,” people would ask for my resume, but I didn’t lead with it.

    Also, I was able to be very clear with my future employer. I know where I’m headed, at least from the vantage point I hold today. The job I accepted is not “My Ideal Job,” but I believe it is the “ideal job” to get to “my ideal job.” That job may be inside my current company; it may not. I don’t know. But I was clear and upfront. I even handed the doc to my boss and said, “I think it’s important for you to know where I’m headed. I’m looking for an environment that will provide me the career I want. It’ll be helpful if you know what I want.” He was cool with that. And to his credit, in my first week, when I walked in his office with an idea that was a bit wild and out-of-the-zone for their prior comfort levels, he said, “Do what you want. Go for it.”

    So, it’s an odd thing and a good thing. I didn’t get “My ideal job” as I defined, but I created a direction and trajectory and held nothing back in the interview process. I walked in the first day, remarkably comfortable and confident because I know where I’m headed. It’s up to me to stay on course, and I can be transparent and direct about my vision, allowing others to come with me and support me; rather than feeling, as I often have, thwarted by others.

    I’m feeling optimistic, confident and happy.

    Rock on.

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