By Marie Zimenoff
Career Thought Leaders & Resume Writing Academy
Co-Authored By Tanya Mykhaylychenko
TM Writing & Editing
Before you start your job search, ask yourself some questions to hone your focus and clarify your strategy. You may already have these questions in mind, and they sound simple. Let us review your approach again. It may not be as simple as it seems initially.
- Who is the audience for your resume?
- What types of jobs will you be applying to?
- Who is going to be on the receiving end of your application?
Instead of keeping all these ideas in your mind while juggling various job search tasks (company research, job description analysis, networking, and resume updates), write down some of your processes notes. You may be able to see a pattern and organize your efforts more effectively.
Create a list of the job titles that have been the most interesting to you
This is one of the most challenging steps for some people because we want to keep our options open. The more focused you are, the easier it will be to put together your resume. If you are too broad in your focus, you may not connect with as many opportunities as you could because you are at the whim of whatever is posted. What types of positions are most interesting to you? What are the elements that make a job really attractive to you?
This list will help you come up with 2-3 slightly different resume versions; for instance, an account manager focused nurturing existing relationships while a business development professional is finding business, creating accounts, influencing, persuading, and selling.
Identify common threads across all of the types of target positions that you will use in your social media
Your professional brand has to be consistent across your LinkedIn, Facebook, and Twitter channels. What it is that you do? Knowing the types of target roles helps you articulate your professional value with clarity across all channels, providing that 30,000-foot view of the important skills. In this step, prioritize 2-3 different types of positions at the most. Identify key areas of expertise and your skills in each area.
Identify your desired geography
Your search can be local or national. Depending on your choice, think again about the target audience. What should you know about the company’s requirements, target markets, recent performance, and expectations based on their location or geographical scope of operations? Identify the companies where you would like to work and research them proactively.
Identify your top 3 target industries
What types of companies have you worked in (healthcare, high tech, biomedical, financial industry)? What types of people do you want to be around? For instance, if you are an accountant, you could be an account in any kind of industry, in any kind of company. Yet you'll have certain types of experience that will make you more desirable in certain industries. Identify the specific skills you have based on your past industry.
If you worked in manufacturing and want to transition to healthcare, consider approaching your resume in a different way, highlighting transferrable skills instead of industry-specific skills. If, on the other hand, you’d like to stay in manufacturing, emphasize skills specific to manufacturing. Consider the requirements and the language of each industry when updating your resume. You may come up with a different resume for each industry.
Identify the needs of your target company
Company cultures differ, so you want to reflect on your desired company profile and size. Once you narrow down those criteria, pay attention to the company’s needs as described in the job announcement. Research the company online (Glassdoor, social media) to learn more about their culture. Create a list of 10-50 companies and return to this list on a regular basis. Write down what makes each company desirable for you and what makes you a great fit for them. This is going to be the foundation of your communications plan, your career documents, and your social media efforts.
Once you have mapped out these core elements of your search, start reaching out and applying proactively.
Use networking and social media
Have a strong LinkedIn profile focused on your goals. Use the keywords that are specific to the type of work you want to do to get traction from recruiters. Networking is used widely across various industries and company sizes. If a smaller company has an open position, it may prefer to identify candidates through networking, while a large company (100+ employees) may make a posting. Think about how hiring happens in your target companies. Ask people if you know anyone who hires within your industry (“Can you tell me a little bit how the hiring process works or if you have been a manager or helped hire?”)
The idea of networking is that you are trying to build warm leads into your target companies. The best place to start is the people that you already know, love, and trust. They want to help you. Do not assume that your friends, family, or people from church or other organizations you attend do not know anyone in your target industry. Ask them. It is going to be the fastest and most comfortable way.
Consider cold approaches to contacting target employers
If you do not have any connections in a particular industry or company, you are doing something similar to a cold call. Applying online is part of the cold approach, and your success is based on your skill level. Do you have the skill that they are looking for? Do you fit their needs? Focus on how well you can articulate your value for the reader, both electronic (Applicant Tracking System) and human. You should apply online because you do not want to miss a great fit, and you might need to apply online even if you are also networking.
However, you want to minimize the time you spend applying online. Look at your target companies’ websites once a week or create a schedule that works for you. Check their websites for job postings and news. The more focused you are, the less time you spend adjusting your resumes. Keep your searches targeted.
You might send direct letters to companies to learn if they may have a position on the forefront or in the near future that would be a good fit for you or if they may have some need that you can fill even though they do not have a position posted. Your goal is to understand the company’s problems and hone your sales pitch.
Attend industry events where you can meet your target employers
Finally, go to several events where people from your target companies might be. This is where your social media presence comes in because you can connect with people who are already working at your target companies. You can connect in groups to people who might be working at your companies and start building a network. Avoid announcing that you’re looking for a job right away. Instead, ask to learn more, share resources, and build a relationship first.
At every stage of the process, keep reviewing your job search plan and notes, adding ideas, revising your career documents, and honing a particular message to a specific type of audience. This will raise your chances of getting a response and starting meaningful dialogue.
Are you a coach looking to improve your job search results with clients? Check out the Certified Hidden Job Market Coach program
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