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Goal #1: Set a Goal

Resumes & Cover Letters

If you’re like millions of other people in America who are either unemployed or unhappy in their current position, you may have made your primary new year’s resolution (alongside going for that run you swore you’d go on last year) to “Get a Job!” And if you’re like millions of other people in America who are either unemployed or unhappy in their current position, you might be losing steam at this point in your search. Whether you didn’t have time to sit down and apply, got sidetracked with other responsibilities, or haven’t gotten around to curating your LinkedIn, there is still hope. Setting the goal to “Get a Job!” is only the first step in many you have to take if you want to maximize the search process and actually achieve the outcome you want.

There is science behind setting goals––having them helps to increase productivity, and motivate the goal-setter to move forward, but a goal as big as this is daunting if not properly broken down. In Vanessa van Edwards’ article, Goal Setting: 5 Science Backed Steps to Setting and Achieving Your Goals, she makes it clear that a goal must be understood as the marriage of a process and an outcome. When we say, “My goal is to get a job,” we are hoping for an outcome that will have us in a workplace doing something that we find to be meaningful, and not a job that we’re overqualified for, or one doesn’t mean anything to us. Getting this outcome, or achieving this goal, will take a process, or a series of steps. Your plan at the beginning of the year might have looked like this:

2020 Employment Plan
Goal: I want to be gainfully employed by 2020.
Outcome: I will be applying my skills in a position that makes me feel fulfilled.

  1. Identify what jobs suit me based on my skills, interests and past experience.
  2. Update my LinkedIn profile and resume to make sure that they are showcasing all of my best professional skills and accolades.
  3. Apply to my dream job.
  4. Interview for my dream job.
  5. Get offered and accept my dream job.

Unfortunately, even with a plan as detailed as this, the job search might not have become much easier. Notice how this plan’s components are all actually smaller goals that imply their own individual outcomes and processes. For example, identifying what jobs suit your experience and interests is a goal that requires quite a bit of research! Updating a LinkedIn and resume might involve some collaboration, and applying to jobs includes scheduling. Once you identify each step in your overall process as its own goal, your overall roadmap to a job will begin to look less like the above, and more like this:

2020 Roadmap to Employment
Ultimate Goal: Get a job in 2020
Ultimate Outcome: I land my dream job!

The Process:
Goal A: Identifying jobs that suit my skills, interests and experience.

  • Research possible positions on job-searching websites.
  • Ask friends, professional contacts, and/or a mentor what positions I should go for.
  • Find out what other active-duty spouses whose experiences are similar to mine are doing.

Outcome: I know what positions I want to look for, so I can move onto:

Goal B: Setting myself up for success when applying.

  • Work on my LinkedIn presence with my mentor.
  • Workshop my resume with my mentor, and decide if I need additional versions for different industries.
  • Write a basic cover letter that can be altered to fit the bill for the job I send it to.

Outcome: I am equipped with a readable resumé, a LinkedIn that showcases my professional experience and skills, and even a general cover letter. Now I can begin:

Goal C: Applying to jobs.

  • Set aside time in my week to send out applications.
  • Create a goal number of applications that I would like to send out per week, customizing my cover letter and resume as needed.

Outcome: I get asked in for an interview at a job that I want. The next step is to:

Goal D: Ace the interview.

  • Research the company and the position before my interview.
  • Prepare two questions that I want to ask from my interviewer.
  • Make sure I know the dress code so that I look appropriate.

Outcome: I am offered the job, and choose to accept.

Upon accepting the job that you want, you have (surprise, surprise!) achieved your overarching goal of getting a job in 2020!

Breaking down a goal as general as getting a job into more acceptable doses makes the whole ordeal seem more approachable, but there are factors you must consider that might prevent you from sticking to this outline, such as faulty time management skills (I am guilty myself), a part-time job with unpredictable working hours, familial responsibilities, limited access to a computer, and/or a mental/physical disability that makes focusing or sitting in one place for too long a challenge.

If, as you go through your processes, you begin to feel disheartened, keep in mind the challenges that you are facing and make accommodations. If you know you’re bad with time management, start by selecting one task and blocking off an hour in which to get it done. If you know that you can’t sit still for too long, set 10 minute breaks for yourself, and so on. After all, this is your goal and your plan, so you get to fulfill it on your terms. It is important to also keep in mind that as the spouse of an active duty service member, you are eligible to apply for an ACP mentorship, and work with a mentor for a full year to help you outline, work towards, and finally achieve your professional goal!

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