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Lack of Focus

Don't Kill Your Career Search
With Lack Of Focus!

From Career Tips, 2006 Volume 8, August 2006

One of the most important steps you can take in a career search is to establish a clear target! To paraphrase the Cheshire Cat from Alice In Wonderland"If you haven't got a goal, any path will take you there!"

I see this all the time in INEFFECTIVE career searches. Many job seekers are deathly afraid of committing themselves, of putting that stake in the ground and saying, "This is what I REALLY want!" They are afraid that if they do that, they will miss out on something else the other person might have to offer. What happens is the reverse.

When I see you doing the 'Don't Commit Shuffle', I'm immediately turned off. I see someone who is simply trying to fish for whatever I might have available, so that you can then tell me what a great candidate you are for that role. And because I recognize that is what you are doing, I'm very suspicious when you do commit, and I am totally unconvinced that you are a great candidate. You have just dug a big hole you have to try to climb out of. And even if you might be a great candidate from a qualifications point of view, I'm certainly going to question whether you have the deep interest and passion that makes great candidates. After all, if you had that, wouldn't you have told me that up front?

Lack of focus will also kill off the potential of your networking. When you first meet me, you have a chance to make a great first impression, to get me really interested in talking to you further and in helping you with your search, or to turn me off. The more focused you are, the more clearly you describe how you might be able to help your potential targets with their problems, the more passion you show about what you can do, the more you will grab my interest. And the better you equip me to be able to help you as I hear about possibilities that might fit you.

It's OK early in your search to admit that you are struggling with exactly what you want, and to tell networking contacts that is one of the reasons you want to meet with them, to get their advice on your target. If you openly admit that, it's a bit disarming, and the discussion may open your eyes to possibilities you hadn't thought of. Just make sure that when you start to focus, you go back to those contacts and tell them what you've discovered.