Bad Case of Career Ambiguity?

Are You Suffering from a Bad Case of Career Ambiguity?

We received a phone call recently from a young professional with good education, two years of work experience and a rampant case of “career ambiguity.” Polite translation: “I don’t know what I want to be and I want you figure it out and write my resume.” While we are always flattered at the level of confidence candidates place in us, we’re not magicians. And this is not a good way to start.

What do you want to be when you grow up?
Our reply, a little disciplined self-reflection on what’s important, what you are good at, what you like doing and where you might fit in is invaluable to us as storytellers. When pressed, the candidate confided that she’d completed an assessment tool to help her understand her strengths and her natural and adaptive skills. Despite pressing the issue, she volunteered none of the information she’d learned.

What does this tell us?
It tells us that tools are only as good as the hands in which they are placed. In other words, she did not know what to do with this information and how to apply these key learnings. Too bad because undoubtedly, she has a contribution make and could be of value in our full-employment workforce of today. Yet, she was at a loss for what to do and thought we could figure it out.

What happened next was surprising.
When asked what she wanted to do, she replied she wanted to make an appointment. So, she made an appointment and promptly sent an email back within a matter of minutes cancelling because her “brother had a friend” who knew what to do and he was free. For her sake, we hope the twenty minutes we invested in her were helpful and this alternative works out because a compelling, keyword-driven resume is too important to leave in the hands of a friend of a friend.

It’s important to know your value. Her engagement was never a creative writing project where some magical soothsayer discerns the obvious from the ambiguous. Rather, it was a strategic marketing job and “packaging” project. Here’s hoping she figures out what she wants to be when she grows up because no resume writer on earth can be all-knowing. But we can ask smart questions, identify opportunity and help candidates clarify their thinking.

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