Oreo? Mac & Cheese? Which one are you?

Today, Kraft announced that it will be splitting into two separate publicly traded companies.  One organization will focus on snacks (Oreo Cookies, Cadbury Chocolate), and the other organization will focus on grocery items (Kraft Mac N Cheese, Oscar Meyer Lunch Meat).  Essentially, this split was done so that each organization could focus on its strengths. 2011 has certainly been the year of organizations bringing more focus to their core operations.  Fortune Brands, ConocoPhillips and others have all broken up divisions/brands to focus on their respective customers.

At the end of the day, these important decisions are not about only focusing on what you do best but also communicating to your customers that you can’t be everything to everyone. The career implications are so important here. How many times have I heard the following generic answers to the question “What do you want to do?”:

1) I want to work in government.

2) Finance is so interesting to me.

3) Many have told me that my skills are best for the non-profit sector.

These generic answers just don’t work for you.  While you may think you are communicating a specific idea, in reality, you are just being as generic as the next job seeker. Whether you are looking for that 1st, 4th, 10th job…the more generic the answer, the more your customer (interviewer, informational interview, friend, former colleague) will not be able to assist you. Instead, consider answering that same question in the following ways with added detail:

1) I am really excited about federal government agencies that focus on energy and the environment.  This is a mission I can get behind.

2) Working in finance for early stage companies would be really interesting to me which is why I want to work in venture capital.

3) Many have told me that my skills would be best suited with a non-profit that focuses on early childhood development, because of my teaching skills.

If you feel like being Mac & Cheese that is perfectly fine.  Just make sure the person you are communicating with understands what that means.