Why Underrepresented Job Seekers Need to Find Career Clarity

When it comes to the job search, setting clear goals is an important first step to achieving success. Known as “Career Clarity”, this is important for job seekers because it gives your career and job search specific direction.   According to Forbes, “a career without goals is like going on a journey without a map or GPS. You won’t know where you are, let alone where you are going.”  Unfortunately, many candidates skip this part of the process.  

This article will outline what Career Clarity is, how to use it, and why it matters to underrepresented job seekers.

As an underrepresented job seeker, career clarity becomes increasingly important.  Having clear goals allows you to create a tailored job search plan which leverages your professional network, increasing your chances of landing a job.  After all, the best way to land a job is through the hidden job market.  In order to accomplish this, the first step is to have career clarity.  

What is Career Clarity?

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No matter your race, or where you're from.

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Simply put, having Career Clarity means knowing what you want from the inside out.  With clarity your job search works in alignment with your overall purpose and goals.  In the absence of career clarity and bigger picture goals, your job search is likely limited to what’s posted on the job board at any given moment. 

The career clarity framework can help you to set career goals, while helping you decide what you want your life to look like.  Finding career clarity, or setting those clear goals is a critical first step in the job search process.  

Once you’ve developed this overall plan, you are in a much better position to execute on the tactical pieces of the job search like writing a standout Canadian resume, cover letter and creating a LinkedIn profile that attracts Recruiters.  

Why BIPOC and other underrepresented job seekers need career clarity

Career clarity is especially important for underrepresented, BIPOC job seekers who may find themselves at a disadvantage during the recruitment process.  For example, candidates who have a Black sounding name are two times more likely to have their resume screened out of the process.

By finding career clarity and having a specific direction, underrepresented job seekers are in a much better position to manage their job search.  

For example , career clarity couples with building intentional relationships and accessing the hidden job market.  By working directly with contacts and leveraging your relationships, you’ll be less likely to be competing with that stack of resumes, inside of a bias filled process.  

Focusing only on what is posted on the job board at the moment can hurt job seekers.  There are many more opportunities available through the hidden job market.  In fact, some estimate that 50%-75% of employment opportunities never end up formally posted.  

Career Clarity helps you build your job search marketing campaign.

The job search process itself is basically a marketing campaign.  In this campaign you market your professional skills and experience to employers.  The employer is essentially the customer.  

If you think of the job search as an advertising campaign, career clarity is the part where you define what you want the outcome to be. 

For example, you wouldn’t run social media ads without knowing what you want the return to be.  You can see that that approach to ads would be shortsighted and not yield the results you want.  Career clarity is the same idea.  

Once you’ve got that goal you can align your marketing materials like your resume, LinkedIn profile to achieve them. 

Career clarity sets the foundation for a successful job search.  Job seekers can follow this 5-step process to uncover career clarity and start building that strong foundation today.

The 5 step process to find career clarity

When it comes to finding career clarity, there are no easy answers.  In fact, uncovering your goals can be a daunting task.  This 5-step process can help you work through the process.  But job seekers should remember, this is a self-reflection exercise with no right or wrong answers.  

You can use the Career Clarity Work Book to write down your answers and work through this process.  Or you might like to write down notes in a notebook.  Whatever you choose, it’s up to you.

A best practice is to write down your answers so you can revisit them and reflect over time.

Step 1:  Answer the question ‘what do you love to do’?

The point of this exercise is to reflect on what you really love doing, without limiting yourself.  Think beyond the job board, your education and past experiences.

There are activities and experiences that are really enjoyable for you.  Maybe you love to cook, or travel, for example.  You might even add your current job, or studying to the list. 

Whatever you love to do, write it down.  The practicality of those items in terms of your future career are not important right now.  

Step 2:  Answer the question ‘what makes you great?’

There are some things which differentiate you from other people.  These may be the same things that make you truly awesome.  While you might be thinking ‘I’m nothing special’, this isn’t the case. 

Everyone has unique sets of talents and abilities.  Often they are right in front of us and we struggle to see them. 

A good way to approach answering the question is very simple.  It is to pay attention to the feedback you’re already receiving in your everyday life.  This feedback can contain clues for you to uncover your own clarity.  

For example, what do people ask you to help them with?  Maybe it’s a paint color, maybe it’s social media, maybe it’s parenting inspiration or maybe it’s how to do vlookup in excel.  

Whatever the case, what others seek your help with is likely a clue to help you uncover what makes you great. 

Step 3:  Research what you can make money doing.

You’ve got a list of items you love doing and a list of things you’re great at too.  Work through those lists and identify what items might be able to earn money.  

In this step, you research what you can make money doing.  It’s important to remain creative and keep a big picture focus.  Think beyond the job board and consider all the possibilities.  

For example, while your love for travel might not seem like it can pay the bills, maybe there are ways it can.  

Have you considered the travel industry, starting a business or becoming a travel thought leader?  Keep a big picture focus.

Professionals are often taught there is a formula to success and happiness.  The formula says:  go to school, get a job and get a paycheque. The point of this exercise is to expand the pool of opportunities by looking beyond the traditional approach.

Step 4:  Create a career clarity vision.

Through your reflections and money research you should identify some common themes.  Connect what you can make money doing to options you’ve identified in steps 1 and 2, where you wrote down what you love and what makes you great.  

Using these connections points you can craft a career clarity vision.  This is a big goal you can work towards over the short or long-term.  

Achieving your goal might require some big effort and planning.  It’s important to note that your vision may change over time, as you and your priorities change.

If this becomes the case, revisit this process, step by step. You know how important it is to have a vision.  

Step 5:  Take action.

To achieve your career clarity vision, you will need to identify the steps involved.  This might include taking a course or conducting informational interviews to better understand your desired path.

You might need to stay in your current job while you figure it all out.  You can check out this post that discusses how to cope with a job when you can’t quit.

For example, if you want to transition into a role as a Travel Influencer from your current job in marketing, you will need to think through the steps and financial implications involved.  A successful move is probably going to require a fairly long-term plan.

Video: how to change careers without losing money

The challenge with career clarity

While on the surface it seems a matter of answer a few questions, career clarity is not without its challenges:

  • There is no single quick answer.  This is a reflective exercise that is personal and internal for you.  

It can be difficult to accept that there is no quiz that can give you the single ‘right’ answer.  The reality is you and your career goals are going to be complex.  As a result, finding career clarity will be an ongoing self-reflection and leadership journey that you will likely have to revisit multiple times.  

  • Make sure not to discount the importance of their preferences around work hours and location.  The world is very different now.  Many companies are operating outside of physical boundaries and recruiting based on skill, rather than location.  There are also new trends in work like increased acceptance of and opportunities for contract work.

What to do if you get stuck on career clarity

When it comes to finding career clarity, sometimes it can feel like you’re just spinning your wheels with no direction at all. You know you’ve got to make a change, but you don’t know where to start.  It’s normal to feel stuck from time to timem but here are some tips to gain momentum again.

  • Writing things down.  Your writing doesn’t need to follow a specific process, it just needs to start.

If you are struggling with writer’s block, the first thing you can write about is a time you were very happy in your career.  You might reflect on this experience and jot down all the things about that role, company or manager that made you feel happy and engaged at work.

Then you can write down all the things that are not ideal about your current situation.  

Writing things down can help you hone in on and identify the disconnect between when things were good and now.

  • Consider hiring a Career or Life Coach to work through the process with you if you need that personalized support.

Conclusion: underrepresented, BIPOC job seekers can create a clearer vision for their career through this framework

Underrepresented, BIPOC job seekers can benefit from finding career clarity and creating a clear vision for their career.  This helps to eliminate some of the unfair recruitment barriers that exist in the application processes by encouraging a focus on the hidden job market.

Uncovering clear goals through finding career clarity is the logical first step to finding a career you will love and takes an intentional step in building the life you truly want.  

There’s much more opportunity when you’re working towards your unique goals instead of thinking the only jobs out there are the ones posted on the job board today!

Shauna Cole

Shauna Cole is the founder of hirediverse.ca. She is a Human Resources Consultant and Instructor at the University of New Brunswick. She’s been featured by CBC, The Canadian HR Reporter, CareerBeacon, The Maritime Edit, Jobscan and more. She founded hirediverse.ca to connect underrepresented job seekers with employers who value diversity. Join her on LinkedIn or watch her videos on Youtube.