Recruiter: So where do you see yourself heading in the next five years?
Ben the Executive: Good question, I don’t know. I’d like a new challenge.
Recruiter: Well, are you looking to take the next step up in your career, maintaining the status quo, or easing back?
Ben the Executive: I’m not sure.
Recruiter: Are you looking for the same industry or do you think you’ll try something new?
Ben the Executive: I guess I haven’t considered that yet. I just thought I’d look at what was around and see if I could see any challenging opportunities.
Ben the Executive: I have a lot of transferable skills. Perhaps if I gave you list of the type of things I could do, you could align them with a position you may have?
——- * * * ——–
If you’re thinking that this is a good way to annoy a recruiter, you’re right! But it’s not as rare as you may think.
Let’s take a closer look at Ben. He’s keen to get started on the job search, being frustrated and dissatisfied in his current role. He has no idea where he is heading, whether he wants to move to a different state or country or enter a new industry. A company name or type has not crossed his mind.
Despite his superior business savvy and a career that has been the envy of his peers, Ben has given no thought to his future other than the very short term—and that is out and away from where he is now.
His frustrations compound as he attempts to write his resume, knowing there is something wrong, but unaware of what.
In Ben’s desire to flee his current role, he mistakenly believes that the first thing he should do is write the resume and then everything will fall magically into place… despite nothing in life ever working that way.
He creates a resume that will suit a hundred different positions, in numerous different industries and he ends up with a one-size-fits all resume. Of course, he is dissatisfied with the outcome. The document is written without a target audience, country, or industry in mind. A disappointing interview with the impatient recruiter is another blow to Ben’s confidence. As far as the recruiter is concerned, Ben’s lack of decisiveness, his unfocused resume and his vague need for a challenge, indicates he is a leader incapable of making a decision. She won’t be recommending him for any roles she has coming up.
It is time for Ben to create a plan. Before writing his resume or seeking new work, he needs to take the time to establish his directions and preferences.
You can do this too.
In fact, as a job starts coming to an end, you need to take a personal and professional inventory. What did you like and dislike about this job and previous jobs? If you didn’t like the industry because it was cutthroat, hated working for a company with a poor reputation or questionable ethics, and suffered stress being a contract employee with no safety net, then it would be fair to say that a job with these attributes would or should not be on your list for next time.
On the other hand if you loved working with company-critical projects, enjoyed high-end strategy creation and execution and relished opportunities to sell, then these should be key components of the type of role you’re seeking. When the recruiter says to you, “What type of role are you looking for next?” you can state your preferences and sound decisive and confident. This will help the recruiter assess if any of the appointments she has available may suit your experience and style.
Be honest with yourself. If you like jobs with prestige, power, respect and status, then working for a small business operation or a start-up, is unlikely to give you the type of environment you crave.
Little-by-little you’ll start to shape your future job as your insights grow and these will be crucial in articulating your value to others both at interviews and when you come to writing an audience-specific resume.
Wanting to leave your job and having no insight into your future career, infers your strategic and thought processes need work. There are professionals who can help, or you can start evaluating your motivators and preferences yourself.
Not taking the time now, may mean another job that “didn’t work out” and that may be even harder to communicate.