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Don’t miss doing these 4 critical things when you apply for any job

If you want to develop your career and to be fulfilled and engaged at work, don’t overlook these four essential things in your job search because now is the time to G.R.O.W.

Don’t miss doing these 4 critical things when you apply for any job
[Source images: BOTOBOX/iStock; Poike/iStock]
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Your résumé and cover letter gleam from the final revision you made last night. Your LinkedIn profile is up to date and the Excel spreadsheet of potential companies, keyword search terms, recruiters, and people to contact in your network is complete. Let the job search begin.

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Not so fast.

If you want to develop your career and to be fulfilled and engaged at work, don’t overlook these four essential things in your job search because now is the time to G.R.O.W.

G: Get clear

If you are not clear on the experiences and capabilities you possess, it is difficult to imagine how you can use them to guide your job search to advance in your profession. To have the vocation of your dreams, you need to be clear. Clarity drives your success.

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Let’s do a Career + Life Walk. This is a powerful process that enables you to methodically assess each professional role and position throughout your career history, as well as your volunteer service. It is important to include your volunteer service because there may be experiences and aptitudes you gained through volunteering that can be valuable to you now.

Open your freshly updated résumé and for your most recent role answer the following questions:

  1. What was your specific job?
  2. What were you responsible for?
  3. What did you do?

Focus on the actions you performed as part of your responsibilities. These are the physical, tangible steps you performed. Here’s a hint: All actions start with an action verb. For example, develop, analyze, or coach. Remove any abstractions, assumptions, or MBA school jargon. The goal is clarity.

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Now, review your responses to question number three, what did you do, and identify the following:

  • Themes or clusters of actions that you want to ensure you use in your new job.
  • Actions that intellectually stimulated, challenged, fulfilled, and motivated you.

Repeat this process for all your employment and volunteer roles. You will come back to this information in the final step in the G.R.O.W. process, where and what else?

R: Recognize Your Results

To leverage your existing skills, experiences, and talents to build your vocation, it is imperative that you know and can articulate the advantage and impact of each of these in your hiring interviews. Results are the value you provide to your new company and the currency you will use to apply for a position that may be considered a “stretch” for you.

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Go back to your résumé and answer the following questions for your current position:

1. What were my quantitative outcomes? So what?

Quantitative results can be counted, measured, and expressed with numbers. Identify each quantitative outcome, and then ask yourself the “so what?” question. Numbers without context allow other people to tell your story. You need to tell your own story and clearly communicate the value of the outcome you achieved.

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For example, you increased supplier diversity by 35%. So what? This promoted innovation in your company through the introduction of new products, services, and solutions. It provided multiple channels to source goods and services, and it drove competition (on price and service levels) between your company’s existing and potential vendors.

2. What were my qualitative results?

Qualitative results are descriptive and conceptual. They can be categorized based on traits and characteristics.

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For example, a member of your team enhanced their communication skills to be more succinct, precise, and factual in their presentations to your customers.

3. What was my overall impact in the role?

When I started in this position our revenue was ________, our customer service ratings were __________, the team’s engagement level was ___________, the team’s internal reputation was _____________ and the team’s contributions to the company were _________.

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If some of the above items are not relevant to you and your position, replace them with what is applicable for you.

4. When you left this role, what was different in each of the above categories or the categories you added?

For each of your professional roles, answer these four questions to recognize your results. You will come back to this data in the next step.

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O: Own your impact

In each of your professional positions, you made an impact. Your customers, your team, the company, the community, or an individual was changed because of you and your work. To be fulfilled and engaged in your new job, it is important to identify the positive feelings associated with the results you identified in the prior step.

You may be tempted to skip this step because it appears too soft, woo-woo, or insignificant. I get it. However, there are positive feelings associated with each of your results. Positive feelings are one of the five elements that help people reach a life of fulfillment and meaning according to Martin Seligman, one of the founders of positive psychology. So, what did you feel when you identified your results? Joy? Hope? Enthusiasm? Pride? Satisfaction?

You are on a journey to find a new job and more happiness and fulfillment at work. Don’t you want to feel those feelings again? Or more of them?

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W: Where and what else?

Your final step is to identify where else you can use the actions you identified in the first step, Get Clear, that intellectually stimulated, challenged, and motivated you, and that generated positive emotions from the results you achieved.

Brainstorm how your actions and results demonstrate that you can apply for and get a position beyond the linear journey your résumé may indicate. Think about the following:

  • What do you want to do more of in a new position?
  • How do your results demonstrate that you can expand the scope of your responsibilities and take on an expanded role?
  • What else can these actions be used for?

Often my coaching clients get stuck and think that they can only use their expertise in one way. This one-track thinking limits your possibilities. The goal is to expand your opportunities and use your talents to advance your career. If you need help, ask a colleague, friend, or mentor to help you brainstorm.

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You are the architect of your career. Be intentional as you conduct your job search. The goal is not just a new job. It is a career and work that fulfills, engages, and enables you to reach your full potential.


Carson Tate is the founder and managing partner of Working Simply, Inc., a business consulting firm that partners with organizations, business leaders and employees to enhance workplace productivity, foster employee engagement, and build personal and professional legacies. She is the author of Own It. Love It. Make It Work.: How To Make Any Job Your Dream Job.