One of the first questions I ask a candidate is: “in a perfect world where you have the opportunity to write your own job description, pick your own title, and do anything within the scope of your ability, what would you like to do?” It is genuinely surprising the responses that I get. Almost everyone says they have never looked at it that way before. My first thought is, why not? What happens during our career exploration phase that we stop asking what we really want to do? Instead, we start looking at posted job descriptions and limit the measure of ourselves by the skills listed on our resumes, our education, and our past titles. Then we try to fit ourselves into a little box created by a limited job description that was written by someone else, and usually someone who has never held that position.
When I first start working with a company to recruit the “perfect” candidate, of course we start by reviewing that very limited job description. But it may come as a surprise that once we dig into what the hiring manager is really looking for, the wants and needs are usually quite different from that job description. Ever wonder why you apply for a job that you are certain you’re a great fit for and never hear a thing? The answer to this question is both good news and bad news. Good news, it wasn’t you at all that they didn’t like; bad news is you won’t get that position because the hiring manager actually wants a completely different skillset.
How frustrating is it to have no idea of what your “perfect job” is, but also that the company you want to work for seems to have no clue either? So how do we overcome this continuous challenge? First, you have to paint your OWN picture. Ask yourself the tough questions: what does your desired future look like? What do you love, what’s your passion? What are you exceptionally good at, and do you enjoy that thing that comes so easily to you? If you don’t love it, is there another motivator (salary or work-life balance) that is worth the payoff?
No one can answer those questions for you. You truly do have the keys to your own future, but you need to know where to start. Hopefully, this will give you the direction you need to align your goals, passion, and future. Answer the “what do I love” question about yourself first, and don’t let someone else’s description dictate your direction.