Take a personal and professional inventory

Personal Inventory

  • What do you do best?
  • What do you like to do?
  • What are your priorities?
  • How do others describe you?
  • How would others describe your strengths?

Professional Inventory

  • What interesting projects have you worked on? What was special about each project?
  • What specialized areas of knowledge do you have?
  • What key roles have you played?
  • What specialized skills do you possess?
  • What accomplishments are you most proud of?
  • What makes these accomplishments special?

Brainstorm Career Options

  • Do you know where you want to be, career-wise, in a couple of years? What type of role would you like to have? Work environment? Industry? Even a vague notion of where you want to be will help guide your next career step.
  • My five-year career goal is:
  • My two-year career goal is:
  • Are there any clues that would help guide your next job choice? Do you need additional exposure or experience in a particular area? Would it be advantageous to work in a larger or smaller organization?

Now, take a look at your career in a new way by brainstorming these options:

  1. What’s the best way to describe the overall thread of your experience? Usually broader than your actual job title, you can use these keywords to identify new industries or areas where your experience will fit, e.g., account management, project specialist, communications management, etc.
  2. If you were to attend a conference in your field, what other types of businesses or organizations would also attend? What are the key industries related to your industry/organization?
  3. What special projects or programs have you managed or played an integral role in? Many times, these projects or programs are created to address a specific problem. Are there other areas (industries, companies/organizations) that are facing similar problems now?
  4. What are the top three trends in your field? Do they suggest any career opportunities? Are there new niches emerging?

LinkedIn profiles can be a gold mine of information about related industries. Look for individuals in your network who are in similar industries, and then review their profiles to see what other areas they’ve worked in.

Think exposure. What have you been exposed to that would make a difference to another organization?

We find reviewing conference agendas and topics are great sources of trend information. Research all the speakers and special guests.

Market Position

This is just a fancy way to say “give yourself a tag line.” Not a cheesy sales pitch, but something concise and to the point. Don’t make a potential employer or a networking contact work too hard to figure out where to place you.

The way you describe yourself is critical to your brand. Include your profession, expertise, types of organizations and your unique strengths. This becomes your tag line, which you can use when networking.

I am a non-profit administrator…

…with expertise in community relations

Types of organizations:
…with large foundations as well as smaller grass roots organizations that serve the Hispanic community.

Unique strengths:
I have been particularly successful in establishing strategic partnerships with other organizations to leverage funding.

Notice how your contacts introduce you to others. If they’re describing you accurately, then you’re “on brand.”

Mr. Don’t

  • Is defined by his job title.
  • Wants an “opportunity.”
  • Lets his experience “speak for itself.”
  • Assumes his resume is the most effective way to market himself.
  • Describes his most marketable skill as critical thinking.
  • Hasn’t defined his work-related accomplishments.
  • Has a written recitation of his experience, his resume.
  • Isn’t clear about his values, personal qualities, marketable skills, professional interests and experience.
  • Hates to self-promote.
  • Hopes to get the job search over as soon as possible.
  • Can’t keep his eyes off the interviewer’s comb-over.

Mr. Do

  • Researches how his job title fits into new industries and organizations.
  • Knows where he fits and where he doesn’t.
  • Wins the job because he’s perceived as the most qualified.
  • Surveys the professional landscape for trends and opportunities. Knows that problem-solvers get hired.
  • Has compiled a professional portfolio of work examples/projects.
  • Focuses his resume on the target job.
  • Knows himself.
  • Knows what he brings to the table.
  • Knows he will likely change jobs every 3–4 years, so he focuses on being effective rather than hurrying the process.
  • Maintains eye contact even in the most challenging situations.
Willamette University

Alumni and Parent Engagement

900 State Street
Salem Oregon 97301 U.S.A.
503-375-5304 voice
503-370-6830 fax

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