What Not to Say to Potential Employers

Have you ever talked to someone who has these far fetching ideas on what they want to do in life, but when you ask “how are you going to get there?” their immediate response is “I don’t know.”

Recently, I have had a lot of people talk to me about their career. I always ask, “well, what do you want to do?” These are a few of the responses I get:

  • I just want to not have to work so much.
  • I want paid vacation and good benefits.
  • I know I don’t want a typical desk job.
  • I don’t know, just not what I am doing now.

Do you know what these responses tell me? Absolutely nothing about you, your goals, what you have to offer, and how you plan on getting to where you want to be.

These answers are just not good enough.

Harsh but let me tell you why they are not good enough. Those answers show that you haven’t put enough thought into what you actually want to do in the years that you will be in the workforce.

Another issue with these statements is that it says nothing about what you have to offer a company. There are no technical or soft skills in there that employers are looking for. You have to reframe this to something that a company actually needs, like you want to lead a team or build better websites or up their sales.

If you’re not putting out what employers are looking for, you are not going to be found. Simple.

However, this is not to say that you can’t tell a potential employer that you want good benefits or that you want to make your job work for you. In fact, you can tell them all those bullets above, just in a better way. For example…

Instead of saying: “I just want to not have to work so much.”

Say this instead: “I need work/life balance.”

Instead of saying: “I know I don’t want a typical desk job.”

Say this instead: “I want a job that allows me to travel or be active to get the job done.”

It’s all about reframing, so let your employers know your expectations without coming across the wrong way.

It is also okay not to know what you want for your career, but don’t give up on trying to find it. Every job you take should point you in one way or another, but make sure that you are paying attention to the things that motivate you and the things that drain you. Get hired, learn what you need to learn, then move on to something better with the foundation you have built.

Finding your dream job is tough. Nobody starts out in their dream job, and no dream job can last forever. But taking the time out to figure out what you actually want to do in life and also phrasing it well to your potential employers will take you one step closer to achieving your dream.

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