Do Jobseekers Have the Right Goals?
I was chatting with a job seeker recently. His immediate response to my “How’s your job search going” question? “It’s on hold, since I am not getting interviews.” Wow. So my thinking is: While the goal is to get a job, you cannot get a job without interviews and you cannot get an interview without an actual opportunity or target. Life is all about making little goals while working on longer-term objectives. For example:
- You cannot be a doctor without getting a degree first.
- You cannot be a mechanic without learning about cars.
- You cannot be a ballerina without learning to dance.
These seem simplistic, but sometimes after being heads-down in a job search or heads-down in a fast-paced career, it’s necessary to look up and around you to determine if you’re on the right path toward those goals. These career goals can even translate to life objectives:
- You cannot lose 20 lbs without losing 10 first.
- You cannot run 5 miles without running 2.5 first.
- If you want to make $100,000 per year and are still in college, you may need to settle for a slightly smaller figure while working your way to that $100,000 objective.
Now that we have those examples out of the way, how does this apply to job seekers or upwardly mobile career seekers? Back to my friend who put his job search on hold: Make it your goal to get interviews. If getting interviews is hard, perhaps there are other goals to focus on:
- Find 10 companies to target.
- Find 10 new careers to target.
- Find new connections in your newly targeted companies.
The key takeaway is to make goals that are manageable and measureable. For example, the goal of finding 10 companies to target: the goal is measureable (10) and should be manageable. You cannot “put the job search on hold” due to a lack of interviews! Sure, it may be slower, but making intermediate goals will help you navigate through those tougher times.
Inside Goals vs. Outside Goals
Here is where I’d like to challenge job seekers. Some of these goals, and many other goals you may focus on, are what I refer to as “inside” vs. “outside.” An inside goal is a goal within your control. Find 10 companies to target? Go to your computer, open your browser, look at Yahoo! Finance, Glassdoor, Vault, LinkedIn, and a host of other great resources and you can find a boatload of targets. This is an inside goal because, in addition to this being under your control, you can execute this without someone taking action.
Outside goals are much harder: These are goals where you’re dependent on someone or something taking action to help achieve your goals. Getting an interview? Outside goal. Getting new connections within a targeted company? Outside goal.
With these definitions in mind, it’s important when you set a goal to make some inside, and some outside. As you progress through your job search, it’s common for the majority of the goals at the early stages to be inside goals, but they need to transition to outside goals, or you’re not really accomplishing much in your search. After all, an outsider has to agree to an interview and sign your job offer!
Setting the Bar
So, in one way, I’m proposing that you set your bar a bit lower, but you need to be aware that the bar is low, and to keep raising the bar. There is no need for a higher bar; you’ll just keep tripping over it and get frustrated. Lower the bar or lower the goals, but raise them quickly and you’ll continue to make progress!
What type of short and/or long term goals do you see for job seekers? Please share them in a comment below.