To avoid confusion, this article does not discuss the resume, though aspects do apply to applications and interviews. Instead, let’s revert to square one—the stage before your job hunt commences. It’s important to first assess career objectives and preferences in order to refine your search and remain on target for all personal and professional goals.
Consider your preferences, but do not allow them to trump your objectives. With that said, the more preferences satisfied the better. Likewise, essentials like salary minimums and health benefits take priority. Other than these factors, job seekers should also explore preferences relating to environment—style, pacing, structure, technology—location and industry. Think about where you want to work, why you want to work there and whom you want to work with, as well as the various values attributed to each. Your interests play a role too, but within reason: they need to be marketable!
Next, brainstorm what you can do—that is, what duties you are qualified to handle. Objectives include the types of roles and skills you might seek; this demands self-awareness and critique. Understand that what you can do may not align with what you want to do, so objectives help reveal how to get there over time. For this reason, draft a series of short- and long-term goals, as well as a few strategies to attain them.
Lastly, think of your career objectives as means and not ends, and then ask if such ambitions reflect who you are. Conflicts between personal and professional lifestyles develop over time when the career is incompatible. With this in mind, think about your own values and morals, as well as if your objectives leave room for collective learning and improvement—those who work with or manage you.