How do I get clarity about my career direction – Step 3: Focusing on the NEXT Step

In our last two blogs, we’ve been talking about finding clarity in your career direction. The first two steps to finding clarity are taking inventory of who you are and doing realistic research. If you’ve missed our previous blogs click here to take a look. Once you’ve completed steps one and two it’s time to get focused so you can move forward with the career of your dreams.

STEP THREE: Focusing on the NEXT step

Dreaming big is great. At Catch Your Big Break we want you to dream big. But we also want you to position yourself for success. We find that often when people have a big dream they become so focused on the sun on the horizon that they don’t see the street light right in front of them. We want you to make it to the horizon, but we know that getting there will be a lot easier if you take advantage of the streetlights to illuminate your path.

DON’T GET HUNG UP ON WHAT YOU WANT TO DO FOR THE REST OF YOUR LIFE. Seriously. Decades ago, when a person started a new job they could expect to stay in that job for 20-30 years. That’s just not the world we live in today. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics the average American stays at his or her job for about four and a half years. Even though you may not want to stay in a particular job for the rest of your career, it might be the perfect stepping stone to the job that you ultimately want. As you objectively consider your career options make sure you keep this in mind.

When a recruiter or hiring manager looks at your resume to consider you for your dream job he or she will be looking at two things: 1) your relevant experience, and 2) your relevant skill sets. If a potential job helps develop one or both of those things it could be the perfect stepping stone to get you to your dream job. Let me explain what I mean.

If I am a recruiter and I need to hire an office manager for a 200 person company, I will be looking someone who already has as least one year of experience as an office manager for a company with at least 50-200 employees. When we talk about relevant experience we mean someone who has literally done the same job. The more your current job looks like the one I’m hiring for the better.

Now let’s be honest, if you’re looking for a new job it’s probably because you don’t want to do exactly what you were doing before. Most often, the ideal candidate for a position is actually someone who is slightly under-qualified. By that, I mean that my office manager job is probably going to someone who has managed a small office before, or (at the very least) someone who has ordered office supplies and handled building maintenance, even if they haven’t done everything on the job description yet. This slightly under-qualified person will be willing to put in the work to learn the new job, will appreciate the opportunity, and will be happy in the job a little longer because he or she is still learning and has more room for growth.

This is also where relevant skill sets come in to play. You may not have any experience as an office manager, but you might have worked as the lead administrative assistant in a large team. In that role, you oversaw scheduling so that there was always someone available to answer phones over the lunch hour, you helped order office supplies, and you assisted the office manager with collecting bids for plumbing repairs needed in your building. Although you’ve never done the office manager job you have a number of relevant experiences and skill sets that could make you a very strong candidate.

 Whatever your ultimate career goal may be, take a look at the job description for that position. Look carefully at each component of that job and the skills and experience you will need to do that job. Then take a step back and start working on gaining those skills and experience one piece at a time. Keep your goal in mind at each turn and be intentional about making career moves that continually lead you in the right direction. One step at a time you’ll get there. And we’ll be here to help you.

Melinda Barrow is an HR Consultant for Catch Your Big Break. For more information about Melinda and her work, contact her here.