Being All Things to All People

Man Considering Career ChoicesDo you try to be all things to all people? This is probably the single biggest problem that my clients seem to have.

The conversation usually goes a little something like this…

Me: “What type of job would be ideal for you?”
Job Seeker: “Well, I’ve doing X for the last five years, but I am really good at Y and I would love a job in Z.” (the list sometimes continues to builds to 5 to 10 types of jobs)
Me: “Well, what about X? You’ve been doing that for a while now. Why don’t you focus on that?”

Job Seeker: “Yes, I like doing X, but I don’t want to pigeonhole myself into just that.”

The reality is that if you say you are good at 10 different things, most people will translate that as you being okay or mediocre at 10 things and amazing or fantastic at nothing.

What happened here? The job seeker is trying to generic enough to fit many job descriptions. What really happens is that job seeker isn’t a great fit for any of those roles. This person is leaving it up to the hiring manager to see the one skill in the list of 10 he has provided that makes him the perfect person for the job. The problem is that the 9 other items in the bullet list dilute the one item that made him a great fit. Wouldn’t it be better to write 2 or 3 more phrases on this topic rather than moving onto the next thing?

So why do people feel the need to list so many different skills? They usually say that if they don’t cast a wide net, they won’t capture a job, any job that they would like. But if you don’t know what the ideal job for you is and you don’t pursue it, how do you know when it actually lands on your desk right in front of you? You don’t. And on the flip side, that hiring manager doesn’t know that you are the ideal person for that job.

So what should you do?
Spend lots of time soul searching and pondering your skills. What are the skills that make you unique? Take the time to write everything down and then categorize your experience and passions into broad categories. Next, narrow those categories down to between one and three that really sum up who you are as a professional.

What job utilizes those skills? FInd the job description for that role and then write your resume and cover letter with the hiring manager for that job in mind. Focus on the skills you possess and the experience you have that directly relates to that job. You need to be the best person for that job on paper in order to have a chance of getting an interview.

You are much more likely to land the job that you are the perfect fit rather than the one that matches 10% of your resume.

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