Why You Need a Career Manifesto, with Maggie Mistal

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Transcript

Mac Prichard:

This is Find Your Dream Job, the podcast that helps you get hired, have the career you want, and make a difference in life. I’m Mac Prichard, your host, and publisher of Mac’s List.

I’m joined by my co-hosts, Ben Forstag, Becky Thomas, and Jessica Black, from the Mac’s List team.

This week we’re talking about why you need a career manifesto.

Everyone wants work that offers purpose and meaning. Our guest expert this week is career coach, Maggie Mistal. She says that writing a career manifesto is one the best ways to find a job you can love. Maggie and I talk later in the show.

The economy creates new occupations every year. How do you prepare for a job that doesn’t exist yet? Ben has found a website with a list of eight careers that one consultant predicts you can have by 2025. Ben tells us more in a moment.

What’s the best way to return to a full-time office job after you’ve worked at home as a freelancer for more than a decade? That’s our listener question of the week. It comes from Heather Fonseca of Los Angeles. Becky shares her advice shortly.

But first, as always, let’s check in with the Mac’s List team.

This week we’re talking about career manifestos. Have any of you done a written declaration like this before? If not, have you done something similar? Whatever you’ve done, how has it helped you? Ben, you’re leaning into the microphone.

Ben Forstag:

Yeah, I’ve never written a manifesto for anything, let alone my career. But I have, for work projects, always tried to set a deadline for them. Things like, publicly state, “Here’s when we’re going to launch this new website”, or “Here’s when this new thing is going to come out”, because there’s nothing like setting a date and putting it on the calendar and telling people it’s coming to really light a fire under your butt and make sure it happens. Otherwise, you end up thinking or saying, “Oh, I’m going to do this someday,” and that day never arrives.

Jessica Black:

Yeah.

Mac Prichard:

So what you think is most effective there? Is it writing it down with a specific date? Or is it sharing that date with others?

Ben Forstag:

I think it’s telling people and putting yourself at risk of public shame if you can’t deliver on what you’ve said you’re going to do.

Mac Prichard:

Yeah. I saw you nodding there, Jessica, what are your thoughts?

Jessica Black:

Oh, not related to that necessarily, but you guys know I’m a planner.

Mac Prichard:

You are a planner.

Jessica Black:

Yeah, but I’m also a plan breaker. At least my own plans. I like to make a lot of plans but use them as guidelines. Or as things to just be goals. So I write things out and make a plan of like, this, and this, and this, and I can do this. In terms of like, when I went to school, I could be like, “I’m going to school in this term, I’m going to take these classes, and then after that I’ll do this.” But then I’ll have a couple simultaneous plans for the various options that I have. I don’t like to be locked into things.

Becky Thomas:

Like plan B’s, and plan C’s sort of thing?

Jessica Black:

No, it’s just like a bunch of different options. Yeah, a bunch of different paths. So yeah, like I said, I don’t like to be locked into things, but I like to look ahead to what can come from various situations and scenarios. So I don’t know if that’s exactly what Maggie is going to talk about with her career manifesto, because I’m not exactly sure what a career manifesto is, but in terms of planning your life goals, I do that. I definitely do that.

Mac Prichard:

Yeah, there is a difference, related to what you just described. I’m curious, Jessica. How does the writing it down help you? What is the benefit of that? How does that help you accomplish your goals?

Jessica Black:

Yeah. I think kind of what Ben was saying. It just makes it more real, when you pull it out of your head and write it down. It forms it more into an actual plan, rather than just sort of a dream or a wish that just floats around in your head. So I think that that really helps. You can figure out the tangible steps to make it happen once it’s written down. At least for me.

Mac Prichard:

Okay, and I’ve got to ask, because you mentioned it.

Jessica Black:

Yeah.

Mac Prichard:

You said you were a plan breaker too. So when do you break the plan?

Jessica Black:

When I find a different plan that I want to do instead. Yeah.

Mac Prichard:

Oh, great. How about you, Becky?

Becky Thomas:

Well that’s interesting because I feel like the whole…I looked up the definition of ‘manifesto’ and it’s “a written statement, declaring publicly the intentions, motives, or views, of the issuer.” It feels like a manifesto is very much setting in stone your beliefs, and your aims, and your goals. I don’t feel like I approach my career that way.

Jessica Black:

Yeah, well that’s what I was going to say too.

Becky Thomas:

You want to be flexible.

Jessica Black:

I’ve talked about this on the podcast before, I’ve never had a clear, direct, end career goal. So I feel like if I had had something like, “I want to be a lawyer”, then I would have been able to make a career manifesto, giving me this clear path and all the steps to get me there. But not having that clear end goal for a long time, and that was where I was keeping my options open and having multiple plans because…I’ve talked about this before, I had too many interests and couldn’t decide which path to take. So I felt like I needed to have a couple of different plans for various…whatever options came along.

Becky Thomas:

Yeah, and I feel like that’s the approach that feels more modern, than having a job title goal at the end of your career, sort of thing. So I’m interested to hear what Maggie has to say about that, because I feel like if I were to give you my career manifesto, it wouldn’t be about what job I have, it would be about what I’m contributing. What my core skills are, and I can apply those in many different job titles.

Jessica Black:

Yeah. Or ideal…what your life would look like.

Becky Thomas:

Yeah.

Jessica Black:

Yeah.

Becky Thomas:

So it’s an interesting topic.

Mac Prichard:

Yeah, I’m looking forward to the conversation. I’ve done this kind of planning too, that Jessica, you and Ben described. I went through a very extensive process when I was getting ready for graduate school in my early thirties. I did map out what I wanted to do for the next five to ten years.

I think I’ve shared this before on the show too; that first day of school, it was Harvard’s Kennedy School of Government. They sat us all down, and they had us, in thirty minutes, go through a form where we had to say what our goals were for the next six months, twelve months, eighteen months, twenty four months, five years, ten years, and thirty years. You got a carbon copy of this, and people, I would see classmates at reunions, and people still refer back to them.

So you know, it’s the kind of program that attracts planning nerds.

Jessica Black:

Yeah.

Mac Prichard:

I was one of them. It’s a useful skill, but I think, to Becky’s point, and you made this as well, Jessica, it’s not about chasing job titles anymore. It’s about figuring out what we want to do in our careers.

Jessica Black:

Yeah. For fulfillment.

Mac Prichard:

Yeah.

Jessica Black:

I’m curious though, do you still have that carbon copy of your…

Mac Prichard:

I do, yeah. It’s not here at the office.

Jessica Black:

Of course not.

Mac Prichard:

But I know where it is at home.

Becky Thomas:

You should frame it. You should bring it to the office, I want to see it.

Mac Prichard:

Okay. I’ll have to do that.

Becky Thomas:

You tell that story, now I want to see the carbon copy.

Mac Prichard:

Yeah. It exists. It’s in a box of stuff from that period.

Jessica Black:

Well I’m impressed, that’s great.

Mac Prichard:

Well, good conversation. I’m looking forward to the interview with Maggie.

But first Ben, let’s turn to you. You’re out there every week poking around the Internet, looking for tools, books, and websites that our listeners can use in a job search and career.

So, what have you uncovered for our listeners this week, Ben?

Ben Forstag:

This week, I’m taking you all to the future.

Mac Prichard:

We need some music.

Ben Forstag:

The distant future.

I found an article, this one comes from Fast Company, called Eight New Jobs People Will Have in 2025. So when I was pulling this together, I started thinking, “2025, that seems so far into the future”, and then I realized, it is totally not.

Jessica Black:

It’s right around the corner.

Ben Forstag:

It’s only eight years from now; we are closer to 2025, then we were to 2000, or 2005, or 2009.

Jessica Black:

Yeah.

Ben Forstag:

So these are jobs that, if you talk to people who are like futurist and trend spotters, that’s exactly who the author interviewed, these are the jobs that these folks see as emerging in the future.

The reason I’m talking about this today is kind of much to the point that Becky and Jessica were making. Sometimes we think that your career goals mean a job title, and the truth of the matter is, you don’t know what you’re going to want to be doing in 5 years or what kind of job title that you might want. The job that you want might not even exist right now. New things are always emerging; you have to be flexible and open to new opportunities.

So I just want to highlight three of the eight jobs that these folks said would be available in 2025, because I thought these were particularly interesting.

So the first one is a Digital Death Manager. Which has a pretty gothic name, but basically, the idea here is, we document everything we do on social media. So, from the meaningful, I got married, I had a kid, I moved, to the mundane, like, my baseball team won, or look at the food I had for dinner tonight. But a digital death manager is someone who can take this material that you’ve generated over the course of your life, and then make a story out of it, in order to shape your digital legacy.

Jessica Black:

That’s so cool.

Ben Forstag:

Weeding out all the mundane stuff that you might now want your great, great, great, grandkids to find out about you online.

Jessica Black:

Like the pictures of your feet.

Ben Forstag:

Yeah, pictures of you at the Portland Airport.

Becky Thomas:

I have so many feet pictures. Oh, right, yeah at the airport. “I’m going to travel.” I thought you just meant documenting your feet. Would it be like they’re curating the best stuff and getting rid of the bad stuff that’s out there on the internet?

Ben Forstag:

I think it’s basically that they’re a scrapbooker for your digital life. They are taking the highlights and and things you found personally meaningful and compiling it into a story for your progeny.

Becky Thomas:

Cool.

Ben Forstag:

The second one is, an Unschooling Counselor. I think you already kind of see this job emerging.  So the idea here is that the traditional concept of education–namely a 4-year liberal arts degree–is really breaking down and educational options are more ad-hoc now and customized around each person’s career. You see the emergence of all of these alternative education schools.

Jessica Black:

Yeah.

Ben Forstag:

Portland has a couple, I know there’s several in California as well. So, an unschooling counselor is someone who helps people navigate this increasingly diverse educational landscape of like, “Oh if you’re really interested in this mish-mash of things, you can go over here for this class, and over there for that class, and get a certification from these people over here.” They’re kind of walking you through this very customized, personalized, education experience.

Jessica Black:

Yeah, that one’s really not that far from happening I think.

Ben Forstag:

I think there are folks who are probably doing that already, although they’re not calling themselves Unschooling Counselors.

Then the final one, one that’s kind of close to my heart, is the Urban Shepherd. The idea here is that, as cities get greener and you see more and more towns doing things like urban farming and composting and beekeeping, you’re going to need a new class of urban farmers who take care of the infrastructure. You know, people who are responsible for maintaining the bees, and keeping the vertical gardens on the sides of skyscrapers, and things like that.

Jessica Black:

That’s so cool.

Ben Forstag:

This is like a unique skill from traditional farming. It’s urban farming.

So there’s another five that they list there. They’re all really interesting. Some of which I think we are closer to than others. But the big theme, here again, is that you don’t know what the future holds and so again, your dream job, even if you can’t find it today, might be right around the corner. Or a job that you think is just perfect for you might be there. You have to keep your eyes open for trends and keep your options open as well.

Jessica Black:

Yeah.

Ben Forstag:

If you’re interested in this topic like I am, check it out on fastcompany.com. Again, the article is, Eight New Jobs People Will Have in 2025.

Mac Prichard:

Great, great tips. I think about what the four of us are doing around the table today, podcasting. A job that didn’t exist ten years ago. Podcasts first started appearing in ‘04, and ‘05, but it wasn’t until the last few years that the equipment and the knowledge made it affordable and accessible.

Jessica Black:

And it’s popular.

Ben Forstag:

I can’t remember what episode it was, but I believe I did a resource that was, Job’s That Used To Exist Twenty Years Ago and Don’t Exist Anymore. It’s the same idea, you can’t be static in your career because if you get stuck in one thing, that job might go away. Frankly I don’t think anyone can really predict accurately what jobs are going to stay, which ones are going to emerge, and which ones are going to go away. So you need to be flexible.

Mac Prichard:

You do. Well, great advice, Ben. If you have a suggestion for Ben, or a resource that we should feature on the show, please write him. We’d love to share your idea on the show. Ben’s address is easy to remember, it’s ben@macslist.org.

Now, let’s turn to you, our listeners. Becky is here to answer one of your questions. Becky, what’s in the Mac’s List mailbag this week?

Becky Thomas:

This week’s question came in on the listener line from Heather Fonseca of Los Angeles, CA.

“Hi, My name is Heather Fonseca from Los Angeles. My question is: I am a freelance designer. I’ve been freelancing from home, working from home for over 10 years, mostly so that I could be home with my children and kind of work at the same time. I’m now looking for full-time work and I’m finding it pretty difficult. I would love to know if you guys have any tips. Thanks.”

Okay, so this is a good question. I think it’s a pretty common one, a lot of parents will take a break from work to raise their kids.

I think Heather has an advantage in that she’s been continuing to work, freelancing. During that ten-year span where she was raising her kids, she was also able to do some work from home. That means that you’re still plugged into the industry, you’ve got fresh skills, you’re still super marketable from that standpoint. You’re not starting from scratch and having to explain why you have absolutely no information on your resume for the last ten years.

I think that’s a really big benefit that you need to utilize as much as you can.

I think that, the other thing is, it’s important to have a goal as you make this transition from working at home, freelancing and sort of working for yourself, to working in a full time office with a traditional role. So think about what kind of jobs you want to target. If there are skills that you need to brush up on, think about what you want to prioritize there. Taking on professional education opportunities, like online classes, and also in-person seminars, that are shorter term education will get you really re-engaged and also help you meet people and expand your network.

I’d also recommend doing some research on the industries you’d like to work in. So you’re in Los Angeles, you’ve got a big city to work with. So I would focus on maybe the industries you’ve worked with in the past. Look at what companies might be growing? Which organizations are maybe  investing in design, which is where you’re working. Start following those organizations, whether it’s on LinkedIn or on social. Checking out their website from time to time. See if you can get connected within the organizations that you want to target. So getting those informational interviews, getting connected. Meeting people within those companies will really help.

Also, turning to your existing network from past experiences. So, former co-workers as well as, I think the bigger one, your current freelance clients. The people that know your work, that is super recent. Just be honest and open with them about your goals and your transition and ask for advice and introductions. Just grow your network that way, I think that’s going to help a lot.

Then, use that foundation of connections, once you’re applying for jobs. Apply at companies where you do have connections, and you do know that you can get someone to give you a recommendation. That’s going to get you such a stronger footing when you are applying. Hopefully you’ll be more likely to get interviews and job offers and you’ll have more to choose from.

So that’s my advice for you, Heather. I think that you’re definitely on the right track, thinking about this stuff. It is a big transition, so hopefully that helps. Do you guys have any other thoughts?

Jessica Black:

Yeah. First of all, that was really comprehensive, so I don’t have a lot to add.

But I do think that, Heather, you can also translate your experience as being a working mom as well. Showcase the skills that you are transferring into the workplace in that way as well. Not only your design skills that you have, and your experience, and your work, and your portfolio there. But if you want to… I mean, it’s wonderful if you want to stay in the design world, but if you wanted to pivot a little bit, and use both your design background, to help you with the next step of whatever it is you want. I like, Becky, what you said about identifying your goals. Really sitting down and looking at what it is that you want and what skills you have existing that you can bring to that industry.

I do think that being a parent is a huge important job that is not to be discounted, and that you can use a lot of those skills when you’re applying and when you’re talking about what you bring to the table. Whether that’s just project management, or leadership skills, those types of things. You are guiding little humans, so I think that that could easily translate.

Then of course, we say this all the time at Mac’s List…Becky you mentioned this and I just wanted to reiterate it, because it’s really important. Using your connections and brushing back into that world. It’ll help you both to feel like you’re getting back into that world, but also help you get into the job world.

Ben Forstag:

I wonder if Heather is struggling here because of this transition specifically, from being freelance into the full-time job. I’ve seen this with other folks who are trying to make that same transition. In our culture, we have such a strong… we almost mythologize the entrepreneur or the person who works for themselves and the virtue of being your own boss. I think a lot of people are skeptical of people who want to stop being their own boss and work for someone else now. I know I’ve had that thought whenever an application comes across my desk. I say, “Well this person’s been freelancing for ten years. Why all of a sudden do they want to work for me? Is it because they weren’t successful doing what they were doing? Is there some other reason that they want to do this? Would they really rather work for themselves and this is just the fallback for them and as soon as they get their career back up and running they’ll want to leave?”

So I think this gets back to that one challenge I’ve talked about a lot on the show, which is really explaining why you want this specific job to the employer. Creating a narrative around why you’re making this choice. It’s a conscious choice, it’s something you want, it’s not something you’re falling into, or it’s not your fallback position.

So if your goal is really full time work with someone else as an employee, make it really clear why you want to do that, Heather. I think that’s going to help you out.

Becky Thomas:

That’s key, I think that’s really important.

Jessica Black:

Yeah, I think that’s a good point, and in Heather’s case, and who knows? This is just my assumption. I would assume that she was freelancing because she was parenting at the same time.

Becky Thomas:

Yeah, that’s what I thought.

Jessica Black:

So it makes life easier, but I do think that bringing that up upfront and being really transparent about it is really important.

Mac Prichard:

Yeah, I think providing a story and an explanation is just going to address the doubt that might go unexpressed in the mind of a hiring manager.

Jessica Black:

Right.

Mac Prichard:

I’m so glad you brought that up, and you, Jessica and Becky, you both emphasized the importance of reaching out to your network. I think sometimes people are reluctant to do that because they think others don’t want to help, and my experience has been, both as a job seeker and talking to other job seekers, people want to help, you’ve just got to make it easy for them to say yes.

So great advice, and Heather, let us know how it goes. Because we do meet other people like you who are making this transition and we’d like to learn what works best for you.

Well great, well thanks, Becky! Thank you, Heather.  If you’ve got a question for Becky, please send her an email. Her address is becky@macslist.org. Or you can also call our listener line like Heather did. That number is area code, 716-JOB-TALK. Or send us a message on Facebook. You can find Mac’s List on Facebook.

If we use your question on the show, we’ll send you a copy of Land Your Dream Job Anywhere.

We’ll be back in a moment. When we return, I’ll talk with this week’s guest expert, Maggie Mistal, about why you need a career manifesto.

– – –

Now let’s turn to this week’s guest expert, Maggie Mistal.

Maggie Mistal has helped thousands of people find their ideal careers. She also helps leading corporations with employee development.

Maggie has own her own podcast called Making a Living. Previously, she hosted career advice shows for SIRIUS XM and Martha Stewart Living Radio. Her insights have also been featured in The New York TimesThe Washington Post, and other national publications.

She joins us today from Pennsylvania.

Maggie, thanks for being on the show.

Maggie Mistal:

My pleasure, Mac.

Mac Prichard:

Yeah, it’s a pleasure to have you.

Now our topic this week, Maggie, is career manifestos. We had a spirited discussion about career manifestos before you joined us, talking about our own career planning, my co-hosts, and I. What would you say to our listeners about a career manifesto? What is it exactly?

Maggie Mistal:

Well so many folks, Mac, are letting the job market determine their careers.

Mac Prichard:

Right.

Maggie Mistal:

They feel they have to shoe horn into what’s out there. They feel limited too, in terms of choices. If they can’t find a job that works for them, again, they have to sacrifice or dial back their expectations. What a career manifesto does is the complete opposite. It gives you an opportunity to control your own career destiny because you define the direction you want to go in. The opportunities that work for you. Really the ideal scenario, from a work standpoint that utilizes your genius, your unique talents and your abilities.

So this manifesto is your perspective on how you want to be of service to the world through your work.

Mac Prichard:

Well Maggie, how is that different from setting career goals and making a list, for example, of what you want to accomplish professionally and describing the jobs you might want?

Maggie Mistal:

Well it’s larger than that, Mac, because it includes your life purpose. It’s got this bigger, more strategic aspect to it, than a goal. A goal could be, “I want to have my dream job”, and that’s great, but what a manifesto does though, is it talks specifically about what your life purpose is. What do you want your life to stand for? It’s putting that stake in the ground to say, “Well here’s what I stand for, here’s therefore, the work I want to do, and whom I want to help, and how I want to help them. What skills I want to utilize, and frankly, what skills I don’t.”

What unfortunately happens to a lot of folks is that they get co-opted into doing, and taking on responsibilities that they really don’t want to be doing. But then that becomes their resume, and then that becomes the job that they do, then that becomes the next job. It just kind of spirals away from them. This manifesto is bringing it back to where you as an individual, where and how you want to work.

It’s actually very helpful, because a lot of people, when they’re not doing work that they love, are pretty unhappy. They’re not quite as productive as they could be. This manifesto is a way for you to be strategic in terms of which employers you go after, which industries really work for you. Those places and those situations where you’re excited to go to work every day. Where it feels like a hobby you happen to get paid to do, and you’re just ecstatic.

That’s the idea of a manifesto; it’s beyond that next job. It’s really a career strategy.

Mac Prichard:

I can imagine our listeners saying, “That sounds wonderful, I’d love to have that, because I have taken jobs that I needed to pay my bills. Can you really make that happen?”

Can you give us an example,  Maggie, of someone you’ve worked with who’s used a career manifesto, and the difference it made in their work and their professional life?

Maggie Mistal:

Absolutely. Well it’s interesting because the universe usually responds and supports us, and just today I was speaking with a client who is a young woman who’s had a lot of really amazing internship experiences, and she’s looking to turn those into her first career out of college. So again, this manifesto can happen at any stage of your life. In her case, we were able to define the ideal scenarios that would really work for her career wise, based on her interests, based on her talents. We used ????techniques, like asking about moments in her career when she experienced ecstatic engagement and loved what she was doing. We also asked her about who she admired and why, so we could get to those qualities she really wanted to put forth in her career. We crafted an ideal day in the life, where she was loving what she was doing, and how that fit her larger purpose of wanting to empower people, and help them live better lives, and what specifically she meant by that. Interestingly enough, that was her perspective from the start of her manifesto.

How it played out in real life, is that she was interviewing for different opportunities, and a particular company really wanted her to work for them. She had some qualms about the job and she was expressing them, saying, “This doesn’t quite match these aspects of what I really want to do”, and they said, “That’s okay, give it a try anyway.” She said okay, and she tried it for a week, and she realized, “It’s not what I wanted,” unfortunately, her qualms came to fruition. She was able to easily though, and politely say, “Hey this didn’t work out, like I thought it would, like you thought it would. We talked about this as a possibility”, and everybody can leave feeling good about the situation.

She was able to leave a job within a week, with great feelings on both sides. Now a lot of people could not share that same experience after leaving a job within a week.

Mac Prichard:

I know, yeah.

Maggie Mistal:

But in this case, because she had her manifesto so clear, it was easy for her to see where there was a fit, and where there wasn’t. I’m happy to report that very same person just today got a call for the very kind of job she wants to do. So in her case, and in everybody’s case, you can actually hold out for the right opportunity. It’s easier to trust that you’re going to get there, because all along the way, you’re expressing this to other people. You’re letting them know, “Here’s what I’m looking for, if you see anything like this, let me know.” Then you have this whole group of people out there, a growing group, that almost are recruiters for you. That’s how this ideal opportunity actually has come across her plate.

So she didn’t have to take the job that didn’t fit and feel uncomfortable, and force herself into a job she didn’t want to do. She was able to trust herself, trust the situation, trust the network that she has to deliver, and they have.

Mac Prichard:

That’s an interesting story, and as you were telling it, Maggie, I was reminded of a couple of times in my career as an employer when I’ve been approached by people who’ve responded to job postings that I had, and they’re a month or two into another job. That fact would only typically come up after they were selected for an interview, because normally as an employer, I wouldn’t talk to anyone who’d worked for someone else for less than a year. You could tell they were unhappy and they felt a little trapped. It’s hard to leave a situation like that and persuade someone else to take a chance on you. When you’re talking to somebody, after you’ve accepted an opportunity somewhere else, and you’re thinking, “Well, gosh, if they can’t be clear about what they want, how can I be certain they’re going to be clear about wanting to work here?”

Maggie Mistal:

That’s right, and that soul search step is so critical to helping the individual get clear about what they want. I think that is the biggest opportunity for most people, because they just haven’t taken that kind of time in their lives or careers, and it’s not a lack of wanting to. But there really are certain questions you want to ask yourself, there really are certain exercises you want to go through, certain big thinking kinds of opportunities. When you soul search, you don’t think about any particular job, I always tell my clients, you’re in Maggie’s world now. Anything is possible, you really need to dream big, and think, “What would my ideal look like? What would it sound like? What would I even be wearing? What are we talking about? Am I in an office, or am I working at home? What are the activities I’m working on?” A lot of people have that in their minds and in their hearts, and so that soul search really pulls that out of them.

The second step that they want to take is research. Because you can have an ideal vision for what you want, right? You can soul search into it. Then you want to make sure you look before you job search. Look before you leap. A lot of people, I’ll have to caution them because they’ll say, “Okay great, I’ve figured this out, and I’m going to go get this job.” Whoa, do you know if that job matches your vision? You’ve got to research first, and that’s where informational interviews, and that kind of good information comes into play. So that, people like this client in particular had done an amazing a job at informational interviews, consistently and constantly, and that’s how she knew this job might not be a good fit. Because she wasn’t afraid to really ask the detailed questions about what a day in the life is like.

So you can’t go in blindly and just hope it works, you’ve got to know it’s going to be the right job for you, and fit your manifesto. So only once you confirm that do you want to do your job search. Say “Okay, recruiting and hiring manager, here’s my application, here’s why I’m a good fit.” After you’ve done all your up front work it’s an easy fit, and they’re almost ecstatic to have you because you’ve done all the work for them.

Mac Prichard:

Well, we talked about why people need a manifesto and the difference it can make. Let’s talk about the what and the how, Maggie. What does a manifesto look like? Is it a one page document, is it ten pages? How do you structure it?

Maggie Mistal:

I like to structure the elements of one’s ideal career (which is really what the manifesto is about), into different sections and I call it a career guide. So everybody out there who wants a manifesto really needs this guide. It includes two parts, Mac.

It’s a checklist, which is literally the types of skills you want to utilize, your unique gifts and talents. The ways you want to make a difference, the ways you want to be creative. Even the ways you like to work, like I said. You want to commute? You wanna not commute? How much do you want to make? Everything from the loftiest to the practical in bulleted, prioritized, points.

You also want to have that vision. Which is that day in the life, written out in paragraph form, when you’ve achieved your ideal scenario. So it’s almost projecting yourself out into the future, to say, “Okay, even the elements of what I’d really like to have. This is my manifesto, and how I want to make a difference, and how I want to be of service. The way that role has to work for me too, and give back to me. Now here’s what it sounds like. So it’s six a.m. and I’m getting up, and I’m having breakfast in this way. I get to work this way, or that way, whether I’m walking or driving.” You get into detail. I mean a five-hundred-foot level of detail. About what you really want and what that looks and feels like.

So that career guide, that manifesto, is a two-part process of bulleted points of specific things you want, as well as this paragraph written about a day in the life. Because just think about it, when you talk to somebody about careers, whether you’re going for a job, or just having casual cocktail party conversation, it’s really more useful if you can get into detail for people. Because, Mac, if you said to me, “Maggie, I’d love to have a job where I help others”, and I say, “Yeah, me too Mac. I love helping others.” We might be talking about two completely different things. Well in this case I think we’re talking about the same thing, because you and I are quite aligned.

But often, we stop at too high a level of detail. We just assume the other person knows what we’re talking about. Your manifesto helps you really paint this picture for yourself and others, so that it’s easier to craft reality. The manifesto doesn’t just stay as a paragraph on a piece of paper or on your computer, it becomes your real experience. That’s the power.

I’ve had so many clients tell me, “Maggie, I can’t believe this, I just found a job description that matches what’s in my manifesto word for word.” It really has bullet points that match what they say they want. They’re often surprised, but I’m not because this is how manifestos work. We’re actually crafting and creating our experiences and our career opportunities. This is just another way people are doing that.

Mac Prichard:

So, have a vision, lay out in bullet form what a typical day looks like, what responsibilities might include. Let’s talk, Maggie, about how you create a document like that. What does the process look like? Is it something you do by yourself? Do you work with peers? Do you use checklists? What have you seen work successfully for people?

Maggie Mistal:

Sure, well I tend to find that a lot of people have a challenge reacting to a blank piece of paper, even though they may have ideas. It’s just daunting. It also… a ton of people think, “Oh why should I write it down? It’s probably not possible.” They have these mental blocks too.

So rather than starting with a blank piece of paper, what I recommend people do is start with a series of exercises. Whether that’s something in my soul search workbook, or something in What Color Is Your Parachute? There are really great insightful exercises out there that can get you to details about what you want versus what you don’t. Like I said, those areas you want to look at, there’s actually nine different areas I help my clients look at. From what they love to do, not just what they like, not what they can stand, but what they love to do. Their unique gifts and talents. The skills they want to utilize, not just the skills they could utilize, but the ones they actually want to utilize. As well as, like I said, how they want to make a difference, how they want to be creative. Even something called work preferences, that includes, do they want to work for big companies, small companies, or their own company? Everybody’s got their own definition, and just by way of example, I used to say to people “Well I want to be in business, that’s what I want.” When I said that, I got all this great advice to go into accounting, because accounting is in business, and there’s a lot of opportunity. Well what I really meant, now that I know this, twenty years later out of school, is what I meant to say was, “I want to be my own boss. I want to have my own business.”

So when you have a manifesto, you hear that in my voice? It’s a desire, it’s a point of view, and I can tell you, “I want to be my own boss because I enjoy the lifestyle of it, I know I’m my own best boss, and that’s how I like to work because I work best on my own, etc.” I can expand on that. So what a manifesto helps you do, is get clear on your perspective, for what type of career you really want. Then expound upon that, so that other people understand what you mean.

So for me, saying I want to be in business got me a great CPA and an accounting degree, but not one I want to use in quite that same way.

Mac Prichard:

So once you have your manifesto written, how do you use it in a job search and throughout your career, Maggie? Should you share it with recruiters?

Maggie Mistal:

Share it with as many people as possible, Mac.

Mac Prichard:

Yeah.

Maggie Mistal:

A lot of people look at me like, “Really? I can tell people about this?” Because so often they think it’s a wild crazy idea, and I’ll say, “You’re not crazy, you’re onto something.” Your manifesto might be very different than your current career reality, but that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t share it.

Because what’s interesting, and here’s the magic that happens: so for example, part of my manifesto, Mac, was to have a radio talk show. I love listening to talk radio. Secretly, in my own mind, I just imagined myself in front of that microphone. But I never really expressed it as a career goal, but it’s always been part of my manifesto. So when I took the job at Martha Stewart, it was actually a training job, I was in charge of training and development as their director. Wouldn’t you know it? Martha Stewart starts a SIRIUS XM channel and they were looking for show content. I had already been career coaching within the company so people knew I knew what I was talking about when I said, “We should have a career show.” They said, “Do you want to host it?”

So when you say, “How do you make this manifesto reality? How do you use it in your career? How do you make it part of your path?” You’ve got to start sharing it because at that moment, when she launched that station, it was my opportunity to raise my hand and say, “Wow, I’ve always wanted a show, here’s the idea I have. What do you think?” No one had any clue Martha Stewart was going to do that. But that’s how the magic happens; you follow your path, you share what you’re looking to create, and it finds a way to you. Most often, in ways you never imagined. It’s a really positive magnetic effect, which I think we talk about when things that we think are secret.

But you’ve got to be the catalyst, that’s what that manifesto helps you to do, is be the person who’s sharing their perspective out there. Who’s planting that seed almost, in other people about, hey with me, it was always about career. I love career conversations, I just thought everybody talked about careers in cocktail conversation. But no, it’s just me. The minute you start to realize you’re unique, and your genius is valuable, and that it’s time to package it and put your perspective out there. That’s when your manifesto really starts to hit the ground running for people because they see ways to put you into service.

Mac Prichard:

Well I just love your main point, which is, tell people about what you want and be clear about what you want. Any process that helps people accomplish that, I think is going to help them have great success in a job search and throughout their career.

Well, Maggie, this has been a great conversation. Now tell us, what’s next for you?

Maggie Mistal:

Well you know, Mac, for me it’s always about encouraging people to elevate their expectations, and to be excited about their opportunities at work. We’ve had a lot of challenges from a career economic standpoint. I think unfortunately, a lot of people are being…it’s great to have an income yes, and it’s great to have a job, but it’s time to raise our expectations. So for me, what I’ve been doing are quarterly get togethers in cities like New York, Boston, Philadelphia, and Miami. I’m really looking to get out there with people, together. Because when we have the camaraderie of other folks who are also creating their manifestos, following them, planting those seeds, it’s really energizing.

So if people are feeling that maybe this isn’t possible for them, I encourage them to check out my website and see if there’s an event coming soon close to them, and if there’s not, suggest one and contact me. Because we’re all in this together, we all want to make a great living.

Mac Prichard:

Well I know people can find you online, at your website which is maggiemistal.com, and we’ll be sure to include a link to your website and blog posts as well you’ve written about career manifestos.

Maggie, thanks for being on the show today.

Maggie Mistal:

My pleasure, Mac. Thank you for the work you’re doing to encourage and support people, because at the end of the day, anything really is possible, and the more that people see that in their own lives, the better off we’ll all be.

Mac Prichard:

Well that’s kind of you. Take care, Maggie.

Maggie Mistal:

Thanks, Mac.

– – –

Mac Prichard:

We’re back in the Mac’s List studio, with my co-hosts.

So Becky, Jessica, Ben, what were some key points you heard Maggie make?

Ben Forstag:

Well I really liked this interview for a couple reasons.

Jessica Black:

Yeah, it was great.

Ben Forstag:

The first, we in our conversation at the beginning of the show, we were all kind of framing manifesto as a commitment device, like forcing yourself to do something that you’ve decided upon. I think Maggie’s approach is completely different, it’s not about commitment so much as it was about clarity. Like really getting clear about what you want. Even to the extent that you’re sharing this manifesto with others, it’s not to make yourself more accountable to people, (which I think is a plus, but…) Her emphasis was really on showing people, telling people, what you really want to be doing so that they’re able to help you in more constructive ways. I thought that was brilliant.

Jessica Black:

I loved it as well. The same thing of detailing how to get really, really clear. I mean we say that all the time, of get clear about your goals, to be able to land the career that you want. But I think that she really detailed specifically how to do that. Also some good suggestions for thought processes for how to get there in terms of, what does your day look like? Where are your energy points? All those types of things. Really, really, really think about that, and it’s not just, “I want to work in accounting at a business downtown.” What do you want to do? Which firm specifically? Where downtown? What time do you want to start working? What type of services is that firm going to help other people do? Like extremely clear and really granular.

Like Ben said, I thought that was really helpful for when you, because everybody, when you’re looking for jobs, we’ve talked about before, everyone asks you, “What kind of job are you looking for?” If you are able to give them a very specific, “I want to work at x, y, z, company, doing x, y, z.” That’s going to be super helpful, and people can put you in touch with people that are going to help you get there, or directly help you get there. So yeah, I loved it, it was great.

Mac Prichard:

Becky, what are your thoughts?

Becky Thomas:

Yeah, no, I agree with what you guys are saying. I think the other thing that really resonated with me was the value of really expressing what you want to be doing and putting it out there, and sharing it with people. Not hiding your light under your bushel basket or whatever. Being up front about where you want to go and what your dreams might be. So that in itself starts to manifest in your life. I think that’s really great, really exciting.

Jessica Black:

Manifest your manifesto?

Becky Thomas:

Nice. Maggie should use that one.

Mac Prichard:

Yeah.

Becky Thomas:

But also just the fact that so many people fall into jobs that they might not like.

Jessica Black:

Yeah, I liked it when she said that.

Becky Thomas:

So really focusing in, and it is a commitment in a way, where you’re like, “I want to do this, I’m not going to do that, I’m not going to compromise in my career.”

Jessica Black:

It’s like a mission statement that organizations create to help guide them for what kind of services they’re going to provide, or what kind of partnerships to pursue and those kinds of things. It’s a really good way, like you were saying, to help you guide your choices.

Becky Thomas:

Yeah.

Jessica Black:

It’s like a backbone. To be able to say, “Here is what my goals and values are, and whenever I’m at a crossroads, and I’m not sure if this is in alignment, I have this document, I have this manifesto, I have this declaration.” Saying exactly what it is and I can revisit that. Or have these check boxes or bullet points or whatever that she was mentioning. So yeah, I think that was really good.

Becky Thomas:

The only thing that I think about it, is, there’s never going to be the perfect opportunity, right? I think people shouldn’t get too focused on making sure that every opportunity fits every single goal that they want to achieve.

Jessica Black:

Oh no, yeah.

Becky Thomas:

So I think you’re going to have to compromise, keep that in mind. But it’s still important to know yourself and have your priorities out there.

Jessica Black:

Yeah, absolutely. Again, using it as a guide, and something that is going to move you towards what you want, knowing that if it’s a wish list, you’re not going to get all of your wishes granted. But you can get as close as possible, and make sure that whatever opportunity is presented to you, that you encounter, is as close to your dream, or your core values, and skills as possible.

Becky Thomas:

Absolutely.

Mac Prichard:

Yeah, agreed. To your point, Becky, about telling people where you want to go, which I thought was spot on by Maggie. I liked her emphasis on aiming high, and we’re not going to achieve every goal we ever set for ourselves, but we shouldn’t start by settling for second or third best.

Becky Thomas:

Yeah.

Jessica Black:

Yeah.

Mac Prichard:

If you aim high, doors will open, and it’ll take you to the places you want to go. If you don’t, gosh, you’ll never get there.

Becky Thomas:

Right, that’s true.

Mac Prichard:

Well, great conversation, and I enjoyed that interview with Maggie very much.  Well thank you all, and thank you, our listeners for joining us for today’s episode of Find Your Dream Job.

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Until next time, thanks for letting us help you find your dream job!

One of the toughest parts of building a successful career is finding direction. By writing down what you want to achieve, you can make decisions that will lead you to the career you were meant to have. On this episode, guest Maggie Mistal explains why everything about career manifestos, why they can be helpful in a job search, and how to create one for yourself.

This Week’s Guest

Maggie MistalThrough her coaching, speaking, and writing, Maggie Mistal has helped thousands of people find their ideal careers. She also helps leading corporations with employee development. Maggie has her own podcast called Making a Living.

Resources from this Episode