This post is Part 1 in our 7 part series on how to manage your job search.

Defining Your Goal:

Before you start out on any journey it’s important to know your destination. In this case it’s a life-long journey so it’s best to be realistic. In other words, don’t set your goal to be CEO of GE when you have only 2 years of experience. You need to set goals that are attainable, but also stretch your abilities and afford you the opportunity to learn. The approach we are suggesting is best shown by using an example:

The Subject: Jean Hughes
She wants to move from project management to product management, and ultimately product marketing. She sees herself in a VP of Marketing role within 5-10 years. She has 4 years of experience in project management and enjoys her job but would prefer to work in areas that she feels more passionate about, has more aptitude for and where some of her education might help (she has a degree in Business & Marketing). Jean has defined her goals as follows:

# Jean’s Goal Jean’s Notes Jobspeaker Comment
1 Marketing Project Management I want to get more exposure to the marketing function than in my current role, so I think I can leverage my project management experience into managing projects on the marketing side of the business. This is a good approach, particularly in this job market. It’s not settling but it is being realistic about her experience and the job market today. While it’s similar to her current role, it’s different in a very significant way that provides her experience within or alongside the marketing function.

Thus, she is leveraging both her project management experience and her education while learning more to better position herself for the next role*.
2 Consulting: Marketing Analyst Working at a consulting firm will give me more exposure to lots of companies and their different marketing strategies. I may have to take a step back but ultimately this will benefit me long-term. By thinking long-term, Jean has decided that taking a step back in her career may be the best thing right now, in order to position herself better for her next career move*.
3 Senior Marketing Manager Perhaps at a smaller company my project management experience and my industry exposure combined with marketing education can be enough to propel me directly into this role. This is Jean’s aspirational role that would make her transition into the marketing function quicker and increase her rate of learning towards her longer-term goal.

Jean is also comfortable with the sink-or-swim aspect of this role – she has learned quickly before in some of her project work and so it’s likely the pros outweigh the cons. She enjoys the pressure that this enforced learning environment might require.
4 VP of Marketing This is my long-term goal. Keeping an eye on the long-term goal is a great idea.

The basic premise here is that you can’t afford to focus exclusively on one role and that you should employ a strategy that will give you tiered options: a role that you know you can attain based on your experience today, a role that is a stretch, a role that takes a different approach and even a role that is your dream job just to keep you focused. Then you’ll be better able to understand the pros and cons of each of the options and put them in the context of your long-term career goals.

* You’ll notice that we talk a lot about “next career move”. We do this because you can no longer rely on an employer to employ you for your career or to manage your career for you, you must do it yourself. Therefore, it is assumed that this approach to managing your career is now or is becoming THE strategy for job seekers. This is our recommended approach as it puts job seekers in the driving seat by pro-actively managing their careers and taking a step-by-step approach to learning the skills they need to get to the role they want over time.

Step 2: Understanding and choosing the right Job Search Strategy(s)

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