Toes in the Water

image: Flickr - XixiDu

By Jacqui Barrett-Poindexter

Feeling a bit distracted by the possibility of spring? Eager to dip your toes into the water again, while at the same time, feeling a bit anxious about your career?

Today’s post, in collaboration with my Career Collective co-coordinator, Miriam Salpeter, and more than a dozen other career bloggers, focuses on ideas to assuage your tentative feelings. We are delighted to share our opinions and experiences on the topic of Spring Cleaning Your Job Search: Refocusing, Retooling and Organizing.

Examining Your Go-Forward Goals

When Captain Rob and I were dating, and on the threshold of marriage, and before our sailing passion exploded, we explored how to build a personally rewarding life beyond the day-to-day work-eat-sleep cycle. Akin to many careerists in the throes of career transition, who are reexamining their go-forward wants and needs, we knew we needed something more in our lives to refresh, rejuvenate and reward ourselves individually, and as a newly married couple.

Exploring Sparks a Focus

Initially, Rob suggested we consider investing in camping gear and weekend nature getaways as a way to explore a scenic environment, helping us disconnect from the day-to-day burdens of computers, household obligations and so forth.

A month or two passed, and with our minds focused on the goal to create a couple’s activity that would detach us from work/life obligations and craft a refuge from the ‘storms,’ we watched the movie, “Fool’s Gold.” The clear-blue water, the Key West environment, the boats, the heat, the sun, sparked a new, but related escapist option: sailing.

Similarly, I have witnessed job seekers’ goals evolve during our interactions. As they conduct the introspective conversations that zero in on their career needs and wants, their focus crystallizes and their sensitivity to opportunity signals spur them to navigate a revised and refocused course.

Within weeks of responding to our newly sparked idea, Rob and I had trolled the Internet and inspected several sailboats, each with different set-ups and accommodations, all fulfilling minimum basic requirements for sleepovers and weekend respites. Within a month or two, we had plunked down the financial investment for a 28-foot old sailboat named, The Mariner, and set about tuning her up for a summer-time adventure. Our initial investment was large enough to prove we were serious explorers, but small enough to reconsider and reroute should sailing not fit our lifestyle.

This was March of 2008, and by July, our sailing passion had rooted, we had sold The Mariner and invested in a more serious, ocean-ready sailboat, a 34-foot Columbia named Sea’s the Day. She also was the boat on which we exchanged marriage vows just one month after settling her into the harbor. As well, the time, energy and financial investment we put forth those prior six months were instrumental in refocusing and retooling our lifestyles to fit snugly around and within the sailing venue.

Taking Action While You Await Seeds to Bloom

As my Twitter friend Terry Del Percio, @WorkIntegrity recently asserted, “We cannot reinvent ourselves thru introspection; we must take action and experiment.”

The Mariner (our first sailboat)

As you can see, Seas-ing the Day and sailing had rapidly gained center stage, a focal point in our newly partnered lives. However, as you recall, sailing wasn’t the initial seed; it was the idea of a weekend getaway in a natural environment, away from our home and our work that first sparked our camping goal, which then opened up our neural pathways to consider the sailing option and, through exploration and experimentation, we crystallized our target.

Similarly, in your career, especially during the throes of a transition, an assessment of and refocusing of your goals is in order. And, consider this, though assessing and refocusing your ideas are integral steps, you must not stop ‘doing’ and acting upon your instincts and urges to explore and experiment while conducting this refocus. Concurrently, keep moving and doing. Part of the process of sharpening a focus and the goals attached to that focus, I believe, is trial and error – being open to opportunities to explore and reach out, experiment.

This exploration may include volunteering, interning, part-time jobbing, consulting, informational interviewing and so forth to dip your toes into new career waters.

In my own practice in helping professionals and executives frame their career positioning documents and interview conversation points (resumes, cover letters, LinkedIn profiles, biographies and the like), we undergo extensive introspection; yet, it is a traction-able series of activities with pragmatic action steps leading to an organic career portfolio and being performed concurrently with their other job search activities. At the end of our process, their messages are more laser-focused and in harmony with one another; at the same time, these careerists realize their career messages are living and breathing organisms that must be nuanced and adjusted regularly, like the sails of a boat experiencing variable winds and weather patterns.

Our Careers Are Organic

Being open to the unpeeling of those decision layers in order to find your focus is imperative in getting from point A, all the way to point Z, as well as concurrent retooling of how to achieve those goals. Our lives – and our careers – are organic, ever-changing and evolving.

As job seekers enter, exit, and then reenter my virtual doors for career marketing services, the driving question I have for each client persists: “What, exactly, is your target goal, today? What opportunities, specifically, do you want this newly revamped resume to attract?” In doing so, even if the prior resume makeover was only one or two years ago, the answers have changed, the focuses have shifted, and career paths have woven their way, circuitously toward a new destination.

As such, we dive deeply into their resume waters and explore for treasures which to restore and frame for a virtual open house tour by hiring managers, recruiters, human resources professionals and the like.

Springtime is a perfect time to reconsider your career goals, refocus your plans and retool and organize your initiatives to ‘get you where you want to go. If it’s been more than a year or two since you last were in the job search, it’s likely that a number of new tools are available to boost your career marketing efforts and help shore up your current career goals.


Read what my Career Collective colleagues have to say; you may also follow our community on Twitter via #CareerCollective.

Personal Branding to Fire Up Your Job Search, @DebraWheatman

Succeeding in a “Final Jeopardy!” World, @WalterAkana

5 Steps to Retool & Jumpstart Your Job Search, @erinkennedycprw

Your Job Search: Let’s Just Start Again Shall We? @GayleHoward

Checklist for Spring Cleaning Your Job Search, @careersherpa

5 Ways to Spring Clean Your Job Search, @heatherhuhman

Ten Surefire Ways to Organize Your Job Search, @KatCareerGal

Put Spring Into Your Job Search, @EliteResumes @MartinBuckland

How to Revitalize a Stale Job Search, @KCCareerCoach

How to re-think your job search, @Keppie_Careers

Wake Up and Smell the Flowers: Spring Cleaning Your Resume, @barbarasafani

Spring Cleaning and Your Personal Brand, @resumeservice

Spring clean your mind clutter first, @DawnBugni

Managing Your Career 2.0: On Giving Something Up To Get It Right, @Chandlee

Clean Up, Chin Up, Shape Up, @LaurieBerenson

10 Responses to “Toes in the Water”

  1. Meg Montford says:

    Yes, careers are organic – never static. As we grow as individuals, our interests change and our career needs evolve. Of course, the world around us is constantly changing, too, so it can all pull us into career chaos. The best time to update your resume is the first day you start a new job, and then keep it current. You never know when a new opportunity will arise and you want to be ready! Thanks for another compelling post, Jacqui!

    • Master Resume Writer says:

      Great points about our interests changing as we grow; I’ve noticed that, especially in the past several years — things that interested me before absolutely have no appeal now!

      Also, love how you wove in the idea of how this constant change in ourselves combined with the world around us can pull is into career chaos (familiar name of a blog — yours, I believe!! : )

      Being prepared for those opportunities arising is key! (yes)

      Thank you, Meg,

  2. Hi Jacqui,

    I love your posts because they are substantive and full of wisdom. This one reminds me that ‘change is constant’ and we all need to be aware of the changes that are going on inside of us – namely – changes about our priorities and what is important to us at this time in our lives. I also love how you list so many great resources at the end of your post. You give great value to your readers, and I am one of them! Thanks


    • Master Resume Writer says:

      Thanks Terry! I must say I am intrigued by your tweets and insights so was glad when writing this post our recent ‘conversation’ spilled into the content.

      I agree with you that priorities change and that being ‘aware’ of those changes is important (good point, as we can get stuck in what ‘was’ and not adjust to be in harmony with those changes).

      So glad you are a ‘reader,’ and I look forward to continued conversations!


  3. DorleeM says:

    Hi Jacqui,

    I loved hearing how you and Rob put your exploring toes in the water by first camping before ultimately deciding on sailing as your future modality of getting away from it all.

    It was a great analogy of the necessary process of experimenting and investigating that would be required if one is considering a career transition.

    In addition to volunteering, interning, part-time jobbing, consulting or informational interviewing, one may want to take some courses, get some sort of certification or another educational degree en route to switching careers.

    You are such a talented writer…I can see a book in your future 🙂

    With much admiration,

    • Master Resume Writer says:

      Oh Dorlee, what a great value-add (re: taking some courses, gaining a certification or another educational degree en route to switching careers!). That idea escaped me when penning this post, but I had blogged about my own additional certifications during a major career growth initiative here:

      And, YOUR career development process is a shining example of such an initiative, here: !!

      Thank you so much for expanding on what you enjoyed about this post; and also for your considerate, encouraging words. Rob and I are on a journey toward a possible e-book in the next year, so maybe that book you are envisioning will actually take shape.

      All the best to you as you continue your change journey, Dorlee!


  4. Walter Akana says:

    Hi Jacaqui!

    Great post!

    You have really hit on one of the keys to success! Action!

    Too often people get locked into no progress situations because they imagine the actions they need to take are too big. Just yesterday, a person I follow on Twitter told me he wants to combine his love of filmmaking and education to teach kids about making movies. So, he said, he is thinking about setting up a not-for-profit to do that! My advice? Get a Flip video camera and a couple of kids and go make some short films. Test it and them move ahead based on results.

    In your recommendations, you’ve also captured the fail-fast mantra of the day.

    Unfortunately, many job seekers don’t get this. After all, who wants to try for job after job and fail (that is, not get the offer)? Yet, who says you need to have a job to do the work? Often, demonstrated passions that capture the imagination of decision makers can lead to unexpected opportunities. And you’ve outlined some great options to choose from…

    …so, toes in!

    By the way, nice story of your own!

  5. […] View Comments| Tweet| My Twitter friend and colleague, Walter Akana, recently commented at my blog:“Too often people get locked into no-progress situations because they imagine the actions […]

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