What do you Want to Be When You Grow Up?

What do you Want to Be When You Grow Up?

During my years of coaching job-seekers, the #1 hardest thing for each candidate to answer was, “What is your job or career goal? Simply put, “What are you hunting for as your next position?”

It’s hard; I get it. You are afraid of being too niched and, therefore, want to have a broad description. Or you don’t want to be a jack-of-all-trades, so you define your goal very narrowly.

Over 60% of those looking answer, “I’m not really sure,” when asked about what they want in their next job. Or they disguise their lack of clarity as, “Well, I’m thinking about a number of things,” or “There are so many things I’m qualified to do.” Do you ever find yourself saying, “I know what I want, but it’s not out there,” or “I will know it when I see it.” Believe me, I’ve heard them all!

I am more concerned about those job-seekers who describe their next job in squishy terms that mean absolutely nothing. Do any of these vague goals sound familiar?

  • “I’m looking for an exciting position that solves problems in a company with a good culture.”
  • “I want to leverage my skills in project management, communications, and analysis by working in a high-growth company.”
  • “I want to be the one who takes the new business ideas and runs with them.”
  • “I want to be in a senior position within the healthcare industry.”

Below, I provide my favorite FREE resources for being clear with your job search goal. Our U.S. Military transitioning service members, Veterans, and their spouses, can be unfamiliar with how companies are organized in the “civilian” world, and these resources will be extra helpful for them.

  1. O*NET OnLine: https://www.onetonline.org/

The Occupational Information Network (O*NET) is developed under the sponsorship of the U.S. Department of Labor/Employment and Training Administration (USDOL/ETA). It contains hundreds of standardized and occupation-specific descriptors on almost 1,000 occupations covering the entire U.S. economy. The database, which is available to the public at no cost, is updated continually with input from a range of workers in each occupation. Content includes:

  • Anatomy of an occupation
  • “My Next Move” to type in keywords or just browse
  • Career Exploration Tools with assessments
  1. AARP Work Reimagined for 50+: https://www.aarp.org/work/

Created for 50+ job-seekers, this expansive directory of resources offers a search tool for locating new work by job, title, or company. Also find expert advice on age discrimination, work-life balance, dealing with unemployment, and work-focused AARP programs and resources.

  1. Becomopedia.com: https://www.becomeopedia.com/

I like the format of this site because, for each position, it provides:

  • How to become a…
  • Education requirements for a…
  • Job description for a…
  • Salary and career path for a…
  • Frequently asked questions for a…
  1. Occupational Outlook Bureau of Labor Statistics – Occupational Outlook Handbook: https://www.bls.gov/ooh/

Access in-depth information on a variety of occupation groups, from architecture and engineering and everything in between. It includes details on the nature of the industry, working conditions, employment, occupations in the industry, training and advancement, earnings and benefits, and employment outlook.


job interview, senior manager and young apprentice isolated on white background

Here is a framework for those of you who know what you want but cannot articulate it clearly. Complete this sentence, and you’ll be able to announce your goal with confidence to your network, your friends, and at job or career fairs.

“I am looking for a <function/role> position in the <industry> in <city, state>. “

  • That’s it! Stop talking and engage with the person with whom you are sharing.
  • Have two to three company targets to share, if asked.
  • Ideally, have a single target but max out at two, if needed!

Good examples:

  • I am looking for a sales position in Chicago with a large corporation in the medical or manufacturing industry.
  • I have been doing a lot of research, and I am focused on two types of career opportunities. One is a logistics manager in a distribution center here in Orange County. However, I am also looking at opportunities in teaching logistics at local educational centers.

Remember, you are competing against others who ARE confident in their goal and have focused their resume and interview practice to reach their goal. Do your research, then have conviction in your choice.

See other relevant insights here: