When you network in job search, people will ask you “what do you want to do?” 

Here’s a simple formula for answering that key question in 3 to 4 sentences. This will make it easy for another person to help you move closer to a job. Remember, you have 5-10 seconds to capture someone’s attention so your answer needs to be concise.

Write an “intention statement” that links your skills to the impact you have with those skills. That’s the value you can deliver to an employer. An Intention Statement sets you off in the direction of exactly what you want to do next. It is specific in its capture of your Core Value Proposition. Its very specificity helps people help you find your next “right fit” job.  


Here’s the basic formula:

“I’m looking for a chance to use XYZ skills to have ABC impact on an employer in this field, such as P & Q, and in this kind of role. I’d love to work for a company like ABC, DEF, or GHI. I can see myself in positions like 123, 456, or 789.” 

You can add something about your background at this point, such as “I’ve worked in xyz field and am interested in abc as well.”

This format is used very effectively by MANY clients, because it starts with you and your talents and abilities and the impact you have with those skills. Then it travels to the employer and industry/field, and only then focuses on specific types of roles that will spark people’s brains to think of positions they may have heard of. 

It’s important to give examples of companies because people need these cues to think of other companies. I always say few people have any imagination. If they did, there would be no home staging business to tell people a room is a bedroom.

Giving people examples of job titles is a great way to give people an idea of the level you want in a company/organization.

Specificity sparks people’s imaginations.

If you say you want to use your planning skills, someone might think of city planning while someone else might think of strategic planning. Those may or may not be up your alley. If you say you love helping an organization identify and achieve its goals, especially using your planning, management and leadership skills – well, that makes it easier for someone to say “hey, I know of a job as a COO or as a project manager.”

Knowing what you want makes it easy for people to help you in your job search. It’s useful for people to know that you are confident in what you can do. And you have the chance to give them some direction about how to think about you. 

Your Intention Statement does a lot of the work of networking so you can focus on getting introduced to the right people. 

Think about it: when you tell someone you’re looking for a job, the very first thing they ask is “what are you looking for?” Common answers include “I don’t know,” “I’m not sure,” “I think I want to be in this field,” “I want to be a specific job title,” and “I’ll do anything.” 

(The last answer is never true, by the way. Unless you’ll work at a gas station, coffee shop, supermarket or babysit, you are not willing to do anything. So forget that answer.)

Start with your skills.  Skills are transferable.  Skills apply to a number of jobs, fields, sectors. Focus on identifying the 3 to 4 skills you love to use, the skills toward which you naturally gravitate, those skills you find yourself using over and over again.  Even focus on the skills you find easy and fun to use – where it doesn’t seem like work. Where you get enormous pleasure and satisfaction from using the skills and seeing the results you produce when using them.


Sample:  I want to use my sociological research, creative analysis, information synthesis, and writing skills to translate research into public policies that actually work to increase social equality. I’m especially interested in working with organizations that focus on behavioral economics and “nudge theory.”  I’d like to work at organizations like MDRC, Mathematica Policy Research, or the Aspen Institute.  Positions I can see myself in are Policy Researcher, Social Researcher, and Policy Associate.

  • (Got a job as a researcher/analyst for one of the firms she mentioned) 

Sample:  I want to use my market and operations analysis, customer experience, action planning. and project management skills to help a food company innovate new products that improve people’s health. I can help a company grow by properly allocating resources, analyzing consumer trends, and promoting new products that meet consumer demand.  I’m interested in companies like HelloFresh!, Applegate, Hain Celestial, and Unilever.  Positions I can see myself in include Product Manager, Marketing Manager, and Associate Brand Manager. 

  • (Got Marketing Manager position at major cosmetics brand)

Sample:  I want to use my relationship management, strategic insight, trend forecasting and creative problem-solving abilities to help a company make its target audience fall in love with its products or services. and generate big, ongoing revenue as a result. I’d love to work for a disruptive, future-focused company at the cross-section of entertainment and technology, like Hulu, Netflix, and Amazon Studios.  Positions I see myself in are Futurist, Brand Strategist, Creative Strategist, Franchise Development Strategist, and Technology Predictor. 

  • (Got position as Head of Digital Strategy & Creative Partnerships at VR company serving global entities)


Sample:  I’d like to be able to use my business development, relationship-building, and negotiation skills to help a company grow and meet its clients’ needs even better, especially technology companies looking for new opportunities in Latin America and the US, like Cisco or Oracle. I’m focused on IT and enterprise services solutions or science and technology-based products, and thinking of roles in business development, sales and account management. 

  • (Got job doing business development for technology company focused on LATAM)

Sample:  I’m looking for an opportunity to use my partnership development, donor cultivation, collaborative teamwork and solution-finding skills to help a non-profit organization develop the mutually-beneficial relationships that lead to increased resources for the organization, especially revenue. I’m interested in organizations working in education, youth development, environmental and social justice issues, such as Big Brothers Big Sister, Lambda Legal, Human Rights First, Donors Choose and Earth Justice.  I can see myself as a Director of Corporate Sponsorships, Development Officer, and Manager of Strategic Partnerships. 

  • (Got job at National Urban League)

Sample: I want to use my content strategy, team leadership and communications skills to help an education or travel/lifestyle company connect with and engage their audience more meaningfully, and drive growth.  Companies I can see myself at include the College Board, Columbia University, the New York Public Library and Jetsetter.com.  Positions I could hold include Chief Content Officer, Director of Marketing, and even Editor-in-Chief.  

  • (Got position as Executive Director of Market Development at digital publisher and subsequent promotion to VP)

Sample: I want to use my digital product management, traffic acquisition, revenue optimization, and people development skills to build a technology company into a market leader. I’m looking for a nimble and ambitious company in the technology space, with a fast-paced environment, where I can make a significant impact on its growth. I see myself in a leadership position such as General Manager, Chief Operating Officer, and President. 

  • (Got an in-house promotion to be head of Product)


Use your “Intention Statement” to connect! 

More than 80% of people get their jobs through networking today. Being able to quickly and clearly articulate what you want is one key to successful networking.  When you know what you want, you make it easy for people to help you get it. 


Use this template for the opening and closing of a networking message asking for help with your job search. Note that you are NOT asking for a job, you are asking for advice and guidance.

Dear so and so,

I’m writing to see if I can get your advice and guidance on my job search.  [You are so well connected, you know everyone, you know the field, you know me…]and I think I would really benefit from your insights. [this can be whatever you think is appropriate to write]


I know how busy you are, so I’m hoping you would be able to give me 20 minutes of your time. I can come to you or we can talk on the phone.

Thanks so much and I look forward to seeing you soon.




Having the Intention Statement makes it easy to write networking messages and constitutes the bulk of the message. So tackle yours today and see how it helps YOUR job search.