Part Five: Creating a Clear Message

This is the fifth part of a series of mini guides which aims to help you find a career you love. They include tips from me but also practical advice from some of the hundreds of individuals who I have coached over the last 10 years, the sort of things they may have shared with friends or family going through a career move.

Having done the exercises as suggested in previous guides it’s now time to start funnelling those down and deciding what is your direction of travel, what is it you really want to do. It may help to talk over your ideas with friends, family and colleagues you know well to help clarify your thinking. At this stage it’s really important to be clear about what it is that you want to be. There is a temptation for people to try to keep things general, I commonly hear people say things like ‘I want to keep my options open’, ‘I don’t want to close any doors or rule anything out’ but the broader your message the weaker it is.

To help explain it I use the analogy of a plumber. I’ve got a leak on water pipe with water coming through the kitchen ceiling and I’ve had to “two leaflets through my door. Both leaflets are written by plumbers, both with 25 years’ experience, both more than capable of sorting out my leak. The first leaflet promotes plumbing, just plumbing. The second leaflet is selling handyman services and lists plumbing but also tiling, plastering and woodwork. Which one am I going to ring first? The person I perceive as a specialist plumber. It’s important for you to decide if you want to be a plumber or a handyman. If you sell yourself as a handyman you might pick up some tiling work, woodwork or plastering work but you probably won’t get the most interesting and lucrative plumbing jobs. You will also be in competition with specialists in tiling, woodwork and plastering and could lose out there as well. Whilst you may think that widening the scope of the services will provide you with more business or the right job the opposite might actually be true. You need to think about this very carefully.

“Be absolutely clear what you are offering - what you are an authority in. It's easy to get carried away in the early days and scattergun yourself. Don't. Focus.”

“Be clear what you want and what you do not want. Even if what you would like to do does not seem immediately achievable, you have to be clear with an objective and from this everything else will flow.”

“It's really helpful, if not essential, to have a reasonably clear view of what you want to be doing and perhaps more importantly, why. With this clarity you will be more likely to make the "right" decisions for you and for those you will potentially be working with. It will also enable you to focus your time, networks and creativity on your chosen path which will dramatically increase your chances of your move being a success; just don't become too single minded and risk missing out on opportunities that may be great for you, even if they weren't exactly what you had in mind.”

“I needed to set aside the panic driven scatter gun approach. I was applying to lots of inappropriate jobs poorly with predictable results.”

“Once you know what you want to get out of your career, you are in a position to start actioning it”

“Make sure that your CV, LinkedIn profile covers off what you want to do. Although it’s nice to discuss other opportunities and be asked to be involved, be clear if it’s not what you want. Although this might be difficult due to financial perspective. Being involved in discussions that don’t support what you want, takes time away from supporting what you want to do.”

This series of mini guides will give you some practical tips and hints from people that have been through it and found what they are looking for. The next one is about preparing an elevator pitch that fully reflects your expertise in a way that will be easily understood.

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