Don’t you love it when you are asked, “Where do you see yourself in the next few years?” Like you have a crystal ball and can really know that! It’s not a trick question but it does give the recruiter or hiring manager a sense of where your head is at and whether you are a long or short-term player. It’s nice to know where you are going let alone where you’ll end up in a few years. Yeah, you can say you want to be President or have the corner office or be making over $100K a year! But really, is that the right question to be asking a prospective employee? Where you see yourself in the future has little importance compared to where you see yourself TODAY!
Knowing where you are going in the next 3-5 years in your career should not throw you or anyone else off course when someone dares to inquire. Retirement might be nice but that might be a luxury these days rather than a tangible goal! Here are a few ways to address the question of where you see yourself without necessarily revealing anything you are not ready to:
- 1. “I’d like to be promoted”: Having career ambition is not something to be ashamed of. Having unrealistic expectations on when and how to get there might be. Be specific about your desire to move ahead without letting someone believe you are not prepared to do the hard work in order to get there.
- 2. “I want to run my own company”: Knowing when you are ready to go out on your own might be something you decide to keep to yourself. It’s not important for a hiring manager today to know what your long-term aspirations are especially if they have nothing to do with the job you are in or you are considering applying for.
- 3. “I want to earn an advanced degree”: Looking towards furthering your education by earning a degree or advanced degree is a lofty goal to have but you have to ask yourself is it relevant to your current position? If the answer is yes, then by all means share your goal with the hiring manager, if it’s not, then there is no point in letting someone who is hiring you today know what your education goals are for the future particularly if it does not concern your current job.
- 4. “I want to travel around the world”: Well, I guess one response might be, “Who wouldn’t” but come on, do you have to share that with someone who is only focusing on whether you’ll show up for work on time rather than whether or not you’ll be able to get your passport updated in time for your world travels! Keep that one to yourself please.
- 5. “I don’t know?” Honest as that one is, it’s okay to not know where you will be in 3-5 years but a better way to answer that one might be that you hope that you will be further along in your desired career and working with a company and people that truly challenge you to continue to grow and to learn. Now doesn’t that one sound much better even if it’s not stating a whole lot?
While you may not know exactly where the road will lead in the next couple of years, being prepared with an answer that does not throw you off course in your answer is wise especially when frankly, you may not be that sure.
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