Article published in The Philippine Courier, January 2006
Children are usually asked this question, to which they would reply: doctor, nurse, teacher, engineer, or mention other stereotypical jobs. We would naturally find humour in how simple their view of their future career life is. What do you want to be when you grow up? Same question that would normally be asked in an interview, however, asked in a different manner: What is your career goal?
This is one tough question for which an answer tells so much about an applicant – a question that could make you squirm if you are not prepared for it. Your reply to this question could trigger more questions in an interviewer’s mind – which he or she would not tell you, but for which answers could be had by connecting the pieces at the end of your interview. Is your career goal aligned to your previous work history? Does it show previous planning and subsequent successes in getting to positions vertically and/or horizontally towards your ultimate career objective? What were the successes or detours in career decisions attributed to?
A rich variety of follow-up questions can be made from one major question that could tell a lot about how you have managed your career so far. In turn, how you managed your career tells a lot about your motivation, sense of determination, and your work attitude. It speaks of your ability to be proactive, resourceful, purposive, and focused. This does not indicate that you should lie or twist your true intentions depending on the position you are applying for. This only goes to show that you need to see the true value of every position you apply for to the bigger design of your career; either as a stepping stone to an ultimate objective (okay for temporary/contract position) or a value-adding rung in a ladder you are ready to climb in a given period of time to get to your desired goal (usual in a permanent/career position).
A stated career goal seen in the big picture of a career history is indicative of the ability to successfully achieve step objectives that would justify a possible list of short-term employments that could otherwise be misconstrued as lack of job stability. If you could organize and create a logical and clear big picture out of your work history side by side with your career goal/s, you would have been able to state a forceful case of your job application.
This brings you to the question: Do you really have a clear definition of your career goal? Have you been able to come to terms with where and how you landed in your career field? Your enthusiasm and passion for your goals would only resonate if you were doing what you truly love to do. Your sense of fulfillment would shine through and the energy and excitement in the tone of your voice and body language would give you away. If you didn’t really have the zest for what you’re doing, it would show.
It could save you a lot of time and trouble to consult a Professional Career Coach to help you determine where you are now, where you have been, and where your heart really tells you to go. From this point, you could plan out your future career carefully balancing where your passion lies and where the money is. Most successful people would attest they could be found in the same place. As the song goes… when you wish upon a star (makes no difference who you are), your dream comes true!