One Strategy to Find Out What You Want to Do

Yesterday I did 3 out of 5 resume reviews for the “Fab Five” who are part of The Senior Series. The resumes were great!  The students’ energy energizes me!

One of the girls, Carey, had an excellent resume.  She goes to Georgetown, she has tons of awesome internship experience and her resume is well put together.  The only thing it lacked was focus.  She reminded me of myself.

Many Young Professionals Don’t Know what they want to do

Whether in terms of a full time job or an entrepreneurial venture, a majority of us are stuck.  There are SO many options out there, especially now that the Internet is added into the mix.  Is there a point when there are TOO many options?

I don’t think any young professional should limit themselves to a narrow career-niche so early on, especially in a tight economy (unless they know exactly what they want).  At the same time, hiring managers and HR people like focus.  They want to see that you are a slam dunk fit for the position they are looking to fill.  If you meet the experience they are looking for and they like your personality, you are WAY more likely to get a job.

So what is an open-minded young professional to do? Pursue being what hiring managers are looking for to get a job?  Keep a generalist approach in hopes that something sticks?

Some of you may have read the article I put up on Monday about how recruiters spend only a few seconds on each resume.  It also shows the process they use to eliminate candidates.  If you are a job seeker and haven’t read this, READ IT.  The moral of that story is: no focus, no interview.

Carey is one of those Rock Star types who could probably handle a career in just about anything and make the best of it.  But hiring managers don’t know that.

How to cure the generalist bug

I asked Carey to go online and look for several job postings that appeal to her.  The jobs didn’t have to be jobs she would actually apply for (perhaps they were not in her desired city) but more of ideal jobs.  I then asked her to forward me each posting with an explanation of what she liked about it.  Maybe she liked the size of the company, the job description, the team atmosphere, perhaps benefits, opportunities for growth or travel, location, etc.  I wanted her to dig deep into what she liked and didn’t like, to then rank her values and then see if there are any patterns.


  1. Go online and pick out several job postings you feel are ideal. Don’t worry about the city of the posting, you don’t have to apply to these jobs,
  2. Write down an explanation of why you like that job.  Be very specific.
  3. Look at your answers and tally up the most popular reasons you liked the jobs.  See if there are any other patterns.

I think this is also a great exercise to do if you are considering freelancing.  Check out job postings that you like and see why you like them.  Absorb the fact that companies are hiring full time people to do this while you could be outsourcing the job to them for less!

Carey may end up with a few different career paths she is interested in.  If that is the case, she will have to tailor each resume to fit that description, and highlight that she has the experience, skills and passion for that job.

Being flexible is very important during a recession.  Being too flexible could shoot you in the foot.

This is a big topic for young professionals and recent graduates. What do you think?

  • Is being too specific a good or a bad thing when doing a job search?
  • How can you be open minded without looking lost or unfocused to hiring managers?
  • If you know exactly what you want to do, should you only take that?

Nicole Emerick

Nicole Emerick founded Ms. Career Girl in 2008 to help other ambitious young professional women thrive in a career they love. Ironically, growing MsCareerGirl helped Nicole transition her own career from commercial banker to digital marketer. Today Nicole leads the social media team at a large advertising agency in Chicago. Nicole also served as an adjunct professor at DePaul University where she helped develop the careers of PR, Advertising and Communications students. Tweet with Nicole @_NicoleEmerick.