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Why Keeping Your Career Options Open is a Bad Idea

You’re an executive who is ready for a new challenge. You’re interested in making a career transition, but you’re not exactly sure what you’d like to do next. Rather than narrow your focus to a very specific target, you decide to keep your career options open.

Why Keeping Your Career Options Open is a Bad Idea

There are various reasons why executives keep their options open when conducting a job search. Some are genuinely unclear about what they want to do next. They have a general idea, but are not committed to a particular path, so they decide to explore executive opportunities more broadly.

Others are afraid they will limit their opportunities if they focus on what they truly want. In the job market as a whole, there simply are fewer executive opportunities available. They believe that keeping their options open will expose them to more career opportunities, which will increase their chances of finding a new executive role.

As counterintuitive as it may seem, keeping your career options open is not an effective job search strategy. In today’s competitive job market, you must be crystal clear about your career target, as well as your unique value proposition. Keeping your career options open dilutes your message.

Each time you pursue a new executive career opportunity, you compete with other highly qualified executives. To compete effectively, you must genuinely believe that you are the right executive for the position, and you must successfully communicate this to your target audience. When you broaden your career options, you lose the ability to speak powerfully about your fit for the role.

It is safe to assume that your competition for any executive role is passionate about the career opportunity and has a background that directly aligns with the position. How could you possibly compete by positioning yourself for a role that you’re not even certain you want? Your lack of commitment will weaken your candidacy and threaten your job search.

Keeping your career options open also increases your chances of landing the wrong job. If you’re not laser-focused on the right opportunity for you, you risk finding an unsatisfying role that leaves you searching for another new opportunity in a year or two. This is frustrating, time-consuming, and disruptive to your long-term career path.

If you’re not clear what you want to do next, take the time to make that determination before you invest in a job search. Evaluate your options and think carefully about what you really want from your career. If you have difficulty identifying the right career target for you, engage a career expert to help you. Searching for a job before you know what you want will only set you up for failure.

Once you are clear about what you want to do, ensure that your marketing strategy completely aligns with your target. Your resume, social media presence, and messaging must all consistently support your career direction and establish you as the right fit for the executive role you seek. Again, if you struggle with how to market yourself for the job you want, seek the help of a career expert.

Remember, an executive job search is not a numbers game. Keeping your career options open merely shifts your attention away from your target. Zeroing in on the right opportunities will strengthen your confidence, message, and candidacy.

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