I’ve explored the idea of a purpose statement before – specifically the “family” statement, which I think is a fantastic idea. Mission statements are such a great exercise because you can clarify your actions and discard the nonsense.
I lifted this particular “job purpose statement” concept from the “Why People Fail” book and performed further research on the trusty internets. A job purpose statement is a good way to think through and illuminate your objectives – both in your current position and long-term career.
It’s important to have a statement of purpose for every major aspect of your life – career, family, education. Subsequently, you can constantly review your activities and decisions against your purposes to make sure you’re moving in the right direction and not wasting time on extraneous crap.
The Job Purpose – from Why People Fail
Write down three most important tasks at work and put in order of priority.
I did this for my current contracting job, just to get some clarity and cut out some of the bullsh!t that comes along with a new position in a start-up. It’s not for my “ideal” position, it’s for what I’m dealing with right now:
(1) Produce compelling projects on time, in brief and within budget
(2) Make the client successful and satisfied; simplify her life as much as possible.
(3) Make improvements to process/workflow that allow us to get additional/new business and grow the company
The other method to draft a job purpose statement is a more involved three-step method outlined below and in the following links. This is particularly helpful if you are looking for a new position or looking to pinpoint and resolve possible dissatisfaction with your current position. I gave this a whirl as well….
This is tough in a down economy, I think, where employees just don’t seem to have the bargaining power that we did, say, 6 years ago. It’s hard to demand a bunch of stuff from an employer who flat-out tells you that you should be “happy to have a job.” But, it’s a worthwhile exercise, just to remind yourself that you still have values! And prep yourself for the possibility of better things to come….
Step 1: List your expectations: wants, needs, fears
I want to be able to take my 16+ years of ad agency project management experience and leverage that into a career change that allows me to focus on people rather than projects.
I want to work in a company that allows for flexibility – I can work in the office, work remotely, work from home, and handle my business as needed; secure in the fact that the company acknowledges that I’m a responsible adult.
I need to make at least $X per year in salary.
I need a job with a generous benefits package.
I fear starting something that is very different from my past experience, but – at the same time – I’m thrilled by the possibility
I fear getting stuck in another PM job where I’m doing the same thing forever – I’ve proven over and over that a fantastic PM, but I’m ready to move on and grow.
Step 2: Write a long, “from the gut” job purpose statement using the list from Step 1
Purpose statement: The purpose of my new job is to make a career change that leverages my advertising experience and soft skills with a company who values flexibility and work-life integration making at least $X per year salary with a generous benefits package.
Step 3: Write “I will” statements for your job purpose.
Return to the expectations (wants, needs and fears) and to the right of them, write down an “I will” statement. Try to make each “I will” statement specific, actionable and measurable. See below:
I want to work in a company that allows for flexibility – I will make sure to focus on employers who treat their employees like adults and will who value work-life balance. I will research Working Mother’s “Best Companies” list to get an idea of what types of organizations operate with this attitude. I will state this requirement to every prospective employer I meet with.
I need to make at least $X per year in salary – I will mention my salary requirement to potential employers and I will not consider any less, as I am more than worth that amount.
I need a job with a generous benefits package – I will get a full and complete picture of all benefits offered – from health and dental to educational expenses and the little perks and will weigh packages carefully against our family’s needs before deciding.
I fear starting something that is very different from my past experience – I will focus on the wealth soft skills that I gained from over 16 years as an advertising PM, and leverage those in a new position.
I fear getting stuck in another PM job where I’m doing the same thing forever – I will commit to looking only at non-PM jobs and will not settle for another such position. I will network with people from the other industry(ies) that I am interested in, to get a better picture of possible career choices.
I feel like the last couple of “I wills” aren’t super actionable – so I’m going to keep plugging on them. But you get the idea…. Go forth and create the opportunity you deserve!