Before you update your resume, make sure you’re clear on your job goals. These exercises will help. [TWEET]

The moment you decide to find new work, you instantly take on another full-time position. Your new job is to brand yourself as the best possible candidate in the eyes of prospective employers. One of the ways in which you will do this is by crafting a new resume and online profile that reflect your current job goals and call attention to the value you bring to the table.

Remember, a resume shouldn’t be a laundry list of everything you’ve done or are capable of doing. Instead, it should be a carefully constructed marketing document that narrates your career with a specific job goal in mind.

However, not everyone has a clear set of career objectives. If you’re unhappy in your current job, but unsure where to go next, this article is for you. I’ve outlined some of my favorite exercises to help you explore other career paths and clarify your job goals for the resume-writing process.

Inventory your skills and passions.

No one is great at everything. Before you delve into the job search, take some time to reflect on your past experiences. Based on all the jobs, internships, and volunteer roles you’ve held, what are you great at and passionate about? The goal is to use this information to identify roles that not only interest to you, but also play to your greatest strengths in the workplace.

If you’re having difficulty with this exercise, make a list of every position you’d held and write out, in nitty-gritty detail, what you enjoyed about each role and what you didn’t like about it. Get as specific as possible. Once you’ve written everything down, take a step back and review your work. Oftentimes this will help you identify the types of roles that worked best with your abilities.

Create nine lives.

I originally adapted this exercise from Karen James Chopra, career counselor and owner of Chopra Careers. The rules of this exercise are simple:

  • You have nine lives.

  • You must work in all nine of these lives.

  • Whatever skills and education are required to perform each job, you possess them.

  • However much money you need to make to be happy, you make it.

  • Every job has equal prestige.

Based on these rules, make a list of the nine jobs you’d hold. If you’re having trouble with this exercise, tap into your childhood dreams. When you were little, what did you want to do when you grew up? Do any of those dreams still resonate with you today?

Take a step back and review your list of jobs. While many of these careers may not be feasible options today, they can help you identify important themes, such as a love of animals, the need for recognition, or an entrepreneurial spirit, that will guide you towards your new career path. Remember, the absence of certain types of jobs can be just as telling as what you ended up writing down.

Build your own job post.

If you could create your own position, what would it look like? Write out what you’re hoping to find in the perfect job ad. Brainstorm a list of responsibilities you’d hold in this role and which of your skills you’d utilize in order to be successful. For some people, this may be a blend of the jobs they’ve held in the past or combination of their recent position and a hobby they’re passionate about. Don’t forget to describe the company where this job would be held. Think about the corporate culture, the industry, the size of the organization, and where it may be located. Write these details down as well.  The more specific you can get, the better.

If you’re getting stuck with this exercise, think back to your most rewarding and satisfying accomplishments over the course of your career. You can also include proud moments from your personal life. If you recently graduated from college, consider what you achieved at school and during your internships. For your top five accomplishments, identify what skill sets you used, what the environment was like, and what values drove the work. Use this information to describe an ideal job where you’d thrive.

You can also run searches on sites like Indeed and peruse the job ads to find opportunities that interest you. As you browse the listings, copy the portions of the job descriptions that appeal to you and paste them into a Word document. Use all these different pieces to construct the ideal job description.

Once you have a clearer set of job goals, use this information to help you or your resume writer craft a powerful document that tells your career story and calls attention to your qualifications.

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