You have a career goal in mind, but after a few weeks of sending out resumes and receiving no responses, you are starting to wonder if you are aiming too high. How can you determine if, given your skills and experience and the current labour market conditions, your career goal is realistic? Follow these steps to make sure that you’re on the right track:
Talk to people who work in the industry. The best way to get an accurate picture of how your skills and experience measure up to the demands of the industry is to talk to people who are actually working in the field. Show a few people your resume and ask them if they think that you would be a competitive candidate for your target position. Let them know that you are looking for honest feedback, as you are trying to determine how best to focus your job search.
Study the job advertisements. Next, you need to carefully review the job advertisements. Study the requirements section and identify the skills and experience that employers are requesting. Do you have all of the requirements for your target position? Is there any area where you are lacking? There is a good chance that you are competing against candidates who have all of the job requirements. If there is one area where you are consistently weak, then it is probably what is preventing you from getting hired.
Review the labour market. Even if you are perfectly skilled for your target position, it won’t help if there are no positions available. Make sure that you’re not wasting your time by doing your research and making sure that the job is actually in demand.
Identify your weaknesses. You need to have a clear understanding of what employers will perceive as your weaknesses if you want to have any hope of working around them. Think about it from the employer’s point of view- what is holding them back from hiring you? Do you have any actual experience working in the industry? Is the position outside of your realm of experience? Are you missing any important skills? Once you identify the employers’ reservations, you are able to either solve the problem, or work around it.
Set a deadline. It’s good to aim high; if you don’t push your boundaries, you’ll never know what you are capable of accomplishing. However, when your high goals are keeping you unemployed for months on end, then you need to change your approach. Once you have identified your target position, set a deadline date (two to three months from now is realistic), and if you haven’t been offered a position by that date, open yourself up to other opportunities. It’s important to be committed to your goal, but you also need to be willing to change tactics if you’re not getting anywhere.
Job seekers with clear career goals are almost always more successful than job seekers without them. When you have a career goal, it is easier to stay motivated and to focus your energy. However, if you become too fixed on one particular position, it can become a barrier to your success. The best approach is to keep your goal in mind, but also to be open to other opportunities that may enhance your career growth.
(Written by Karen Bivand)