All too often, job seekers take a “spray and pray” approach to the search. They simply “spray” their resume out in as many different directions as possible, and then “pray” to get a call.
Sadly, this strategy often leads to a lot of frustration and wasted time.
A targeted job search tends to be the more fruitful approach. This means that you go into it knowing exactly what kind of role you’re looking for and you have a list of organizations you’re interested in.
Without a target in mind, your search can get pulled in a lot of different directions and you can easily end up with a job that isn’t the right fit for you. When you have a clear target, you can focus all your job search energy in the direction you want to go. You will have a much better idea of the people you need to meet, the organizations you need to connect with, and the kinds of activities you should engage in.
Building Your Target Company List
By the time you’re ready to launch a job search, you should have a clear idea of the role(s) you are pursuing and a general sense of the kind of organization you’re looking for. You may already have some companies that have been on your employment “wish list” for a while, so capture those first.
To identify additional organizations to target, you might need to do some research.
LinkedIn is a great resource to get started. Just type in the name of your city (or zip code) and a few keywords for the type of organization you’re seeking. From there, you can dig into the company profiles to learn more about them and their culture.
You can also search LinkedIn for people with specific job titles or keywords in their profiles and see what organizations they work for now and where they worked in the past.
For any company of interest that you capture, you may also want to consider their competitors, clients, affiliates and vendors.
Local “best of” lists and business journals are also great sources for company information. You can learn what new businesses are coming to your area and which ones are expanding.
Additionally, online job boards can be a useful tool for research purposes. You may find a company of interest there—even if they aren’t currently hiring for your specific role. It’s always possible that you can network your way in. Not all open positions are advertised and sometimes, a new position can be created for the right person with the right set of skills.
Finally, talk to your friends and family and see what exciting organizations they know about. Open your eyes and ears and look at every organization you interact with as a potential target. Talk to the different people you come into contact with on a regular basis—your hairdresser, dog sitter, dentist…these people are all a part of your community and they may have useful insight to share.
Once you know your target, you’re well on your way to a successful job search. You’ll leverage your time more effectively and increase your chances of finding that perfect job fit. No spraying or praying required.