My profession as a writer, working for a NJ resume writing service, was heralded by experience encompassing diverse facets of the publishing industry. As I was being interviewed for my first post-college job, my future boss, who had a wonderful reputation in the field, dashed animatedly around his office, pulling books from crammed shelves, precarious stacks on the floor, and the top of his invisible desk. He was showcasing his work, of which he was justifiably proud. I knew that I had a rare opportunity to work with him; I did not want to blow the interview.
After his mad dash around the office, he seated himself before me, fixed me with an inarguable stare, and demanded to know where I thought I might be five years down the road. Before the interview, I had done my homework on this manic, talented man and knowing that this was a newly created position, told him with a straight face, “I hope to be alive and well five years down the road.”
The man was stunned. I then countered with, “You want to know where I see myself professionally in five years. I can’t answer that honestly. This position is new and publishing represents new ground for me. You already know something of my work ethic (for he, you see, had done his homework on me prior to the interview). That’s what I bring to the table. Other than that, I’m a clean slate; I hope you choose to leave your professional mark on me.”
He thanked me for my honesty, which he said was refreshing, and hired me on the spot. From him, and from that position, I received an education I could not have received elsewhere, including a strong base of skills that would see me in good stead throughout my career.
The interview of which I speak happened many years ago. Our nation was just beginning to rebound from a serious recession, initiated by the hostage situation in Iran and subsequent trade embargos, including a shortage of gasoline. Under those unstable economic conditions, I took a chance in answering my old boss as I did, and the bet paid off. Now that our country has been plunged into an even deeper recession, I would hesitate to advise any job candidate to respond to an employer as I did. Employers want to know that potential employees can see the big (long-range) picture and their role within it
But beyond the inevitable “Where will you be in five years?” question that crops up during jobs interviews, those of us who must work for a living need a personal five-year plan. Without that plan, particularly in this economy, employees can find themselves running on treadmills instead of advancing within their careers and securing their financial futures.
When creating your plan, ask yourself these questions:
- Are my skills outdated? Are there trends and technology that I need to add to enhance and ensure competencies?
- If I require additional training, how will I access it? Do I need to take a course or courses? If so, which institution offers the best programs suited to my needs? If I am unemployed, will the State pay for my training in tandem with Unemployment Benefits?
- Who is my toughest competition? Is it younger people fresh out of Master’s programs or is it older employees pursuing Doctorate degrees? What is the focus of their education? Am I prepared to compete by way of higher education? If so, how? Is online/distance learning an option for me?
- Is my industry pretty much dead and buried at home? Is it thriving or at least alive and well overseas? Am I willing to relocate, and if so, for how long?
- Are my skills strong enough and general enough to transfer into other industries? If so, why am I not getting interviews? Do my resume and cover letter need to be revamped to showcase my skills in a more general manner, or perhaps slanted toward the field that I am now targeting?
- Have I networked tirelessly (yes, tirelessly: in other words, daily) with old colleagues, employers, professors, professional and personal associates, and all manner of vendors to whom I give my business?
- Have I branded myself in order to stand apart from and above my competition?
The answers that you form in response to these questions will help steer you in the right direction. They will position you to better meet your financial obligations in the short and long term. To discerning employees, they will enable you to appear proactive, dedicated, and savvy.