Story boarding your dream job

Visually mapping your ideal work situation can help you get there.
Visually mapping your ideal work situation can help you get there.
Good Work - Lisa Cefali
Good Work – Lisa Cefali

No matter what stage you’re at in your career, you need to do some serious work if you want to find some serious work. You can no longer simply create/update your resume, write the generic cover letter and send it off to random companies.
“To Whom It May Concern” is no longer in the building nor is really concerned about you getting a job. You are concerned; you need to do the work and then you will land your next job.
Try creating a visual story board about your dream job. I’m a visual person and it is helpful to bring out the white board (or the PowerPoint) and place each item below within its own box. You can then add and delete as needed – but the most important part of this exercise is keeping your story board front and centre. Don’t lose focus of what you are trying to achieve.
1. What you like to do and do well. List what you like to do on a daily basis that you do well. You are looking for a role that you will enjoy and that you will succeed at.
Even if you haven’t enjoyed your former role, think about the aspects of the job that you did enjoy. Keep this list fresh and updated, adding and deleting from it regularly.
2. Never again: the list of “don’t want tos.” These items could be tasks that you do not do well, do not like to do, or simply do not want to do. Be honest with yourself. You can then stop yourself from accepting a job that is comprised of 80 per cent what you don’t want to do – even if you are desperate for a job, don’t do it! You’ll be miserable and eventually either you’ll leave or you will be asked to leave as it will show up in your results.
3. Your dream roles. Be realistic. What is the next role you can take on that would be a promotion or a lateral move? Think of titles of roles that you have seen in ads, positions that your friends have or that you know exist. Your current skill set – precise and transferable – can apply to a group of positions. Which ones would you like to consider looking into?
4. Your nirvana – industries and companies that jazz you up. Whether you have intimate knowledge of these companies, whether you have simply heard about them, or you believe in what they do and their brand, keep a list of companies that you will begin to research. Find out if they have roles in the company that are suited to you and that you would want. Find out through LinkedIn or their website who it is that you would have to connect to – either in the human resources department or in the specific business area.
If you can align with a company’s mission and purpose, you are more likely to enjoy the work you do.
5. Not on your life – never there. If there are companies or industries that you cannot see yourself working with because of what they stand for or the footprint the organization creates is not of interest to you, then acknowledge those.
6. Show me the money. What should you be paid? What do you want to be paid?
This could be the hardest part of the prep work. It is not your ego that is looking for a job – it has to be you, the person. So where do you start?
The compensation you are currently receiving or previously received should be your starting point, yes. Consider your entire compensation package so that you can clearly articulate the compensation package you are looking for. Often we think that the next job should always be an increase in every way. This may not necessarily be the case. You need to understand what your minimum is, and anything beyond is then something you can negotiate upon based on the new role and its responsibilities and accountabilities.
How do you determine your minimum? If you accept a role and then are stressed out about your daily expenses, you won’t do yourself or your employer any good. Second, your minimum amount should also be enough that you do not feel your self-worth is compromised. You need to feel that you are being compensated fairly and that negotiations went well. If you have been realistic about your minimum, then the maximum amount could really be about reaching your performance potential.
7. It’s all about culture and fit. What type of environment do you like to work within? Do you enjoy a large office or a small office? Do you need a great deal of interaction with your co-workers or your boss? What type of boss do you like to work with? Where have you enjoyed working and what were some of the office dynamics that contributed to that positive environment?
If you are a “lake person,” you know how suddenly getting to the lake – even if it’s 45 minutes away – makes you feel different, relaxed and energized all at the same time.
There is something to be said about being in a good environment – pay close attention to what your ideal work environment is.
8. Forget cover letters – they are passé. (Not really.) So you are ready to go and want to send out your resume. Take a look at the ad and each one of the requirements. Ensure that you are able to meet at least 80 per cent of the requirements. The better scenario is that you can meet all 100 per cent of the requirements.
You want to make it as clear as possible to the HR manager that is thumbing through a kajillion resumes that you are a worthwhile candidate. Ensure for each requirement that is stated on the posting, you are able to present an example of having done just that within your past experience – at work, at school or as part of your volunteer activities.
9. An emotional check is needed – especially if you are “breaking up” with your job. Don’t focus on all the what ifs and why nots of your current role. Don’t fixate on the negatives – this is simply wasted energy.
Yes, you may take time to vent to your best girl, but do it and then begin your search.
Don’t romanticize about the good old days of the job. You already went through all of this. In some ways, you need to consider this similar to a relationship that is about to part ways. Wrap your arms around all of your amazing accomplishments, skills and contributions – because there are a lot of them – and move forward!
10. Don’t focus on the negative. As long as you are applying for positions that you are truly qualified for and you are following up with every interview you receive as you are instructed to, you will find that new role. It is up to you to be honest with yourself and with what you are applying for.
Look at your lists that you have created, stay true to what is important to you and re-assess those “must-have” elements to make sure you have not created too narrow of a list of possible jobs. As you progress through your search, your need to be intellectually stimulated and contributing will continue to exist. However, do not start to think “Well, I better apply to any job and accept any role I am given.”
This approach will eventually catch up to you, and once you are in the role, you will be severely disappointed and faced with once again making some changes. In three months, you want to be comfortable in your role and contributing to the organization – you do not want to be starting this process all over again.
Lisa Cefali is the vice president of executive search with Legacy Bowes where she uses her many years of recruiting, team development and career coaching to assist all levels of managers and executives in finding their next role. She can be reached at

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s