If you’re on the hunt for a new job or career path, it is tempting to go after the easiest post without thinking much about it. You go in, get the job, render your work hours, and get compensated for it. End of story, right? Unfortunately, that should not be the case.
Getting a job is not a mindless process where you pick the nearest one without contemplating it.
Most of the time in looking for a new job or somewhere along the path of one’s professional life, people automatically focus on the things that will tend to impress prospective employers:
- Do I sound okay?
- What should I wear?
- What are the right words to say?
- What pieces of information about me will impress them?
While these are all good things to think about, we get so focused on this that we forget to step back, reflect, and assess:
- What do I wish for in a job?
- Is this the right fit for me?
- Does this opportunity check all the boxes of how I want to run my life in the future?
- Is this what I want?
Taking a job without reflecting on yourself and knowing what you want can be frustrating and detrimental to your life. If you get a job that you don’t want, it may end up doing more harm than good in the long run.
According to Forbes, staying in a job that is not the right fit for you could lead to a lack of passion, misery, and poor work performance. It can also make you consistently stressed out to the point that it affects your physical health.
Sounds very unpleasant right? The truth is, a lot of people have been found to go through this problem. A recent analysis by Achievers showed that about 64% of employees are looking to find new employees in 2020.
“All signs point toward a workforce that is indifferent and detached…They may be generally satisfied but are not cognitively and emotionally connected to their work,” the study read.
Feeling stuck in a job can be a burden to many. Many people “hate” their jobs or their company’s work environment but can’t afford to lose the job, so they just continue miserably.
However, this problem can be avoided. How? It’s by knowing what you want and why you want it.
Creating a list that will guide you on your needs in a job will minimize the risk of applying for jobs or seeking career paths that do not fit your needs and wants. This is your Career Wishlist.
5 Reasons Why You Should Create Your Career Wishlist
1. Apply Only to Those Jobs Which Fit Your Needs
Having a career wishlist will help you fix your eyes on jobs that are the right match for your needs, personality, values, and overall goals in life, rather than just jumping on to any available job in the market.
Having a job search wishlist will also keep you from going into an application-spree and applying to every single job available and coming after the easy ones without even thinking about the effects of your life.
A job search wishlist forces you to see things holistically and push you to consider things that are out of your sight before. If before you only focus on compensation, a career wishlist will redirect that vision and will make you consider other things too: will this be good for me in the long run, how will this affect my personal life, etc.
The wishlist will help you sift through open opportunities faster and more efficiently.
2. Communicate Your Priorities More Effectively
Sometimes, you have a vague idea of what you want in your mind but can’t quite communicate it to the right people. Having a career wishlist will help you organize your thoughts and share these priorities well with people who have a say in your career search.
Once you take time to sit down and create a career wishlist, the expression of what you want in your professional life will come at ease. When you know what you want, you can easily present these to interviews, employers, recruiters, and mentors. A job search wishlist can also help people lead you to the right opportunities if discussed and discussed among industry friends and professional networks.
3. Keep Your Focus on Your Goal
Nothing can derail your overall career growth than being stuck in a job that you don’t like but can’t afford to leave. A career wishlist will help you avoid this situation by keeping your eyes on your goal.
Career missteps can be minimized or even avoided if your career needs and wants are embedded in you. So each time you find yourself in a new career path of going through job opportunities, you should have your handy job search wishlist with you to keep you centered on your overarching goal.
4. Build Your Foundation on the Things That Matter
Choosing the right employer and position can sometimes be a little tricky, especially if some benefits and perks lure you into getting the job. But, yes, while these perks are not at all bad, sometimes, people get fixated on shiny things and forget about the things close to their hearts.
This is why a job search wishlist is vital to have even before you start looking for job opportunities.
Flashy bonuses may be tempting, but if you have your job search wishlist, you would know the things that you need and want, not only in the near-term but also in the long run.
It gives you the foundation to remember what you need for your goal and keeps you away from seemingly superficial things that you don’t need.
5. Ability to Always Assess Yourself
Having a job search wishlist will not only help screen your future employers, but it will also serve as a guide to keep yourself in check. A career wishlist will help you make general assessments on what kind of opportunities you want in life.
For example, you may notice that, in your wishlist, most of the items point to having creative freedom. This means that being able to express is very important to you as a person. Or for example, if you value companies that employ diverse community members, this means that you don’t tolerate discrimination and inequality in your life.
This job search wishlist will serve as a mirror — it reflects your personality and what you want. It helps you assess yourself and can even guide you in some decisions you will make in your professional career or daily life.
A career wishlist also serves as a motivation to continue working on your overall goal in life. If, for example, you already have the job you wanted, keep your wishlist so you can go back to it now and then to see if you are still on the right path, or if you still want the same things, or if you’re still heading towards the goal you wished for.
10 Elements of an Excellent Career Wishlist
Start with the companies that you want to work with. You can indicate a specific company or set up broad standards on what your employer should be in your wishlist. Be extensive in your research and find what firms make sense to you.
Examples — I would like to work in a company listed in the stock exchange; I must work in a firm that belongs to a big conglomerate and has financial institutions as its sister company; My goal is to work for a start-up employer who is new on the field.
Each firm has a different set of job descriptions. This means that even though you are applying for practically the same part, they expect different levels of involvement for you depending on the company. This is why it is important to learn within yourself what kind of responsibility you would like to take.
Examples — I want to be responsible for overseeing the entire production process; My responsibility should be limited to design work and not copywriting; I want work that will enable me to manage patient care from admitting to discharge.
Knowing what level of salary you are willing to take relative to the job you are ready to take is a vital piece of your wishlist. You can indicate an actual number or put in a range to allow for more flexibility.
Also, include the rationale in your savings plan: I want to save more, I want to be able to buy a car in the next 5 years, etc. Adjust for inflation if you plan on keeping the salary range for a long time. In writing a salary goal, including professional you want in the package.
Examples — I want a salary that will allow me to set 40% of it to savings; I want a twice my previous job’s compensation; I want a compensation package that involves healthcare and transportation allowances.
This is a no-brainer. List down where you want to work, your workspace’s proximity to your house, and future relocation possibilities.
Also, include in this element your desire to travel for work, where you want to settle down in the long run, and which places to visit for your professional growth.
Examples — I want to work within the city where I live; I want a job that will allow me to travel and see the world; My next job should be in a company with branches across the country for future relocation possibilities.
5. Aspirations and Skills
Also, consider the things that you would want to learn in your new job or the learning experiences you think you need to advance your career or grow personally.
List down these items even if they are not useful in your industry or are outside your line of work. As long as you think this is important for you in the long run, jot it down.
Examples — I want a job that will introduce me to social media mechanics; I want to make new connections in my next job; I want a career with regular workshop programs open to employees.
Having a healthy work culture is key to a happy and satisfied employee.
Work culture pertains to networks and relationships within the company: how people treat each other, what kind of values are important to them, how people interact with each other, the overall psychological set-up of the place.
Examples — I want an employment culture that understands motherhood demands; I want to work in a company that values independence and needs menial supervision; My next job should have incentive programs to foster innovation.
Indicate your wishlist that you want to learn, any certifications and training you aspire to get into, what values you think you want to get.
Also, put in the people you want to meet, what kind of superiors you would like to have and what kind of relationships you want with your bosses.
Examples —I want a job that will introduce me to my work-life mentor; My next job opportunity should bring me closer to making a connection with the governor; I want to mentor someone in my career.
A portfolio is a collection of all your experiences, output, work samples, expertise, and abilities in your entire career. It gives people a glimpse of who you are professional. It is a snapshot of your growth. So it’s only proper to think about how your future job will affect the portfolio you are building.
Consider what you already have and what direction you want to go to when listing items in this particular element.
Examples — I want to expand my writing portfolio into a different field; I would like a job that will allow me to work on buildings after working purely on residential models; I want to stay the course and focus on financial clients that need social media marketing to strengthen my overall portfolio.
9. Social Responsibility
Outside work, there are causes and advocacies that you might have your heart in and care about. These advocacies should not be isolated outside work.
When creating your job search wishlist, make sure to include these topics that you care most about and find a company or a job that matches your advocacies.
Having a job that matches your heart will not only lead to happiness but a professional life full of purpose and fulfillment.
Examples — I should work for companies and organizations that are socially responsible for their carbon footprint. I want to work for a company that prioritizes sustainability for the long-run. My next employer should be socially aware of racial injustices and not have been involved in any race-related scandals.
10. End Goals
This is your overarching guidance in what you should be doing. It should encompass all other previous elements in the career wishlist. This is your guiding principle. It will guide you when things are uncertain and help you make decisions when there are many factors to consider in your professional life.
Examples — My job should allow me to have a proper work-life balance; I want a job that will take me closer to becoming a CEO; My job should make me famous one day.
5 Steps for Creating Your Career Wishlist
Now that you know why a job search wishlist works and the elements that it should have, it’s time to start making your own. Follow these steps to build your career wishlist.
STEP 1 — Self-Reflection
Pick a day and schedule a few minutes of that day dedicated to this activity. Go to a quiet and relaxed place where you can gather your thoughts without any distractions. Prepare everything you need beforehand: a pen, a piece of paper, and your intent and mindfulness.
Start reflecting by asking yourself: “What is it that I wish for in my career? What motivates me to put in the effort? What do I want? “
STEP 2 — List Down Things Important to Your Career
Once you’re in the state of self-reflection, start writing the things that pop up in your mind. Do you want to be financially stable, do you want creative freedom, do you want workplace values? Start writing down the things that will make you happy.
Explore different aspects of your professional life. Refer to the list of career wishlist elements. Make sure you write at least one “wish” per element.
STEP 3 — Rate and Rank the Items
After writing down the things necessary to your career, rate these items on a scale of 1 to 10 — 10 being the most important or your “must-haves” and 1 being the least important.
Once you have rated them, rank and prioritize them in order of preference, from the absolute must-haves to the nice to have.
Of course, there is no such thing as the “world’s most perfect job”, but having all your needs ranked gives you a sense of what you can and can’t let go in your job hunt.
STEP 4— Evaluate Previous Experiences
Now that you have your prioritized list start evaluating yourself and your professional life experiences. Use the list to assess your current job or your former job. How many of the items are present in your current position? How many are lacking? Matching your wishlist with your experiences helps put things in perspective.
Some of the items may not seem that important at first, but if you spend time to think about it in the context of your previous experiences, you may realize that they are one of your “must-haves” after all.
STEP 5 — Adjust and Finalize
After matching your professional life experiences with your list, you may need to make adjustments and re-rank the items. Do so accordingly. You may also cut out the things at the bottom of your list so it won’t be too long and tedious to follow.
A good number is about ten items.
Make sure that there is one item for each career wishlist element, as mentioned above. Once you’ve done the changes and cuts, you’re done. This is now your career wishlist. Keep it with you in a place where you can easily see it to remind yourself of what matters in your career path.
You may not know it now, but being fully aware of what you want through and through is life-changing.
Take, for example, Mary Lou Quinlan from New York City.
After 20 years of being in an advertising position in one of New York’s top firms, something prompted her to ask herself a simple question “What do I love to do?”.
“I approach life as a student of a dream,” she said. “I’ve never looked back with regret, and I relish my fresh start and the feeling of freedom that comes with it.”
Mary Lou then started Just Ask A Woman, a marketing and branding consultancy focused on female consumers. She also published a book about her mother’s prayer notes called “God boxes,” and adapted it into a one-woman, one-act play that she now performs worldwide.
Stories of young people who get their dream jobs by taking the time to reflect on what they want are also out there.
Austin Belcak, a career management expert, was also able to land his dream job by reflecting on his wishes.
“In 2013, I graduated from college with absolutely no idea what I wanted to do. Having spent most of my senior year squeezing out the last drops of bacchanalia, I entered the real world without a plan or vision for the future. I took a job that fell into my lap and realized two weeks later that I hated it,” Belcak said.
“I knew I deserved more — work that was fulfilling, a flexible schedule, and a salary that paid me what I was worth — but I had no idea how to get it,” he added.
After several gigs and dozens of interviews, he finally found himself and what he wants. He founded Cultivated Culture, a career advisory firm.
“Don’t settle for the first offer, your future self with thank you,” he said.
Knowing what you want and why you want it is as important as knowing the recruiter’s requirements. Self-reflection is an integral part of your career journey and is essential to your long-term success and happiness.
A career wishlist is a perfect guide to keep you grounded and focused on the long-term prospects of job hunting. That simple wishlist may be just what you need to turn your life around.