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Why Your Goal Shouldn't Be to Get the Job

If your goal is to get the job, you're doing it wrong.

All job seekers have the same goal - to get the job. Sure, some candidates may have a greater desire, but no one applies for a role saying "I hope I don't get this".

So if successful and unsuccessful candidates share the same goal, then it's not the goal that is the differentiator.

James Clear in his New York Times #1 Best Selling book atomic habits says:

"You do not rise to the level of your goals. You fall to the level of your systems."

Simply having a goal of landing a job isn't enough. You're competing against often 100s of candidates with the same goal. Instead of a goal, you need a system. For better results in your career journey, I agree with Clear: "forget about setting goals. Focus on your system instead".

But what does a career journey system look like?

A system is a set of processes that lead to results.

Goal: To apply for a job and be the successful candidate

System: Continual and intentional focus, even when not actively looking for a job, on understanding your superpowers, networking, technology, neuroscience, branding, and resourcing as it relates to your career journey.

Based on my experience in Human Resources, recruitment, management, and career coaching - here are what I consider to be key parts of a successful career journey system that will lead to results and success. HINT: I can help you with all of these!

Get curious about your superpowers and how to sell them

Do you know what sets you apart? Can you confidently and skillfully answer any version of 'why should we hire you'?

You can't craft a killer resume without understanding your superpowers. Your how. You can't wow interviewers with engaging answers to their questions without understanding what lies beneath what you've done in your career. You can't effectively search for, and pinpoint, jobs that are tailor-made for you unless you have a keen sense of your strengths.

Your superpower isn't being an excel expert. Your superpower is meticulous dedication to logic, process, and detail and your inability to rest until all the data is in it's rightful place.

Grow Your Network

I've had a network connection inside the last 4 of the 5 organizations I've worked for. Those connections didn't guarantee I would be the successful candidate, but they certainly helped.

And each of those connections were made years previously, in contexts that had nothing to do with career progression. Aka - I didn't know I was forming connections that would later help me find another job. I simply value making and growing meaningful relationships.

This system of authentic network-growing without ulterior motive is one of your most powerful career journey systems. You shouldn't have a goal to connect with someone who can get you a job, but rather a system of authentic relationship-building that will inevitably support your career journey at some point.

Automate your job search

We all know gone are the days of combing newspapers for jobs, and physically handing in resumes - but also gone are the days of manually combing through online job postings. An effective career journey system is time intensive - so use your time wisely!

Automate and target your job search - even when you're not actively looking. Get clear on what you're looking for (see 'get curious' above), and then use technology to save you time.

And when you're not actively job hunting - still keep a few key searches running. This supports growing your network, ensuring your superpowers remain relevant to what the market is looking for, and might even surprise you with an opportunity that's too hard to pass up.

Understand the science behind Resumes & Cover Letters

You get, on average, 7-10 seconds to make an impression with your resume and cover letter. Standing out in 7 seconds is a skill, learned through research, practice, and dedication to crafting targeted elevator-pitches on paper.

There is solid neuroscience to understand - how the brain reads (top to bottom, left to right), what catches the eye (numbers, white space, short bullets), and how bias plays a part (looking for identical words, phrases, experience to the job posting).

Your resume & cover letter should be an iterative process, targeted for each job application, and based in audience-centric neuroscience to get noticed. It's not a one-and-done.

Get (more) comfortable with Interviews

You've got a foot in the door - great! You impressed someone on paper, where there's one medium (written) to focus on. Now you have to impress with words, body language, inflections, visual presence, gestures, behaviors...

For most this takes practice. And shouldn't just be practiced right before you need to 'perform'. Dancers, actors, singers, and other artists don't just do one dress-rehearsal before a performance, they have a system of skill development and practice to ensure once they get to the performance they've worked out all the kinks.

True interviewing skill is no different.

Know What you Don't Know

At the end of the day, for some parts of this system, you can own what you don't know - and pay someone who does to help you. There are experts who write resumes/cover letters, teach about online job search technology, and coach on strengths, branding, and interviewing.

Use these experts. Own what you don't know and commit to learning, practicing, and elevating with the support of others who live and breath these systems.


While goals are good for setting direction, James Clear is right - without a rock-solid system you'll fall more often than you'll rise.

Let's develop, strengthen, and elevate your career journey system together - so that you rise, unlock your edge, and land that job!

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