The company you want to work for is looking for you. That is the nature of the contemporary job market and it calls for a different approach for the job seeker. Now you can find the company you want to work for, and not just the job. A targeted job search can begin with finding the right company and then pitching yourself for the right position.
A successful, fulfilling career can be fashioned from careful selection of the company that will appreciate your contributions and support your professional growth. Once you have chosen that company, how do you bring yourself and your skills to the forefront when an opportunity arises? Take the proactive approach and put yourself in the driver’s seat as you travel your career path.
It’s all about connection.
The job search process has changed significantly since the days of mass-mailing resumes and responding to “help wanted” advertisements and websites. Many positions in the private sector, especially for those at higher levels, aren’t posted at all, as companies seek to allay the risk of hiring the wrong person by connecting to potential candidates through their own network.
A recent survey, conducted by the Lou Adler Group, found that 85 percent of 3,000 people found their most recent position through networking, whether they were actively searching for a position, or casual or passive candidates who were already employed.
Filling a position internally is the safest option for companies since the established employee has a track record and has been through the onboarding process. When the position isn’t filled internally, companies next look for referrals from employees. That’s a golden introduction for a potential candidate as it vastly increases the chance of being chosen for an interview.
Build your target list.
Your first step in the targeted job search is to build a list of companies you want to work for and that need workers with your skills and expertise. You can find these companies through professional and business publications, colleagues, or searching online for people with similar education and qualifications.
Talk to friends who seem satisfied with their employer, or who may have valuable information about companies they think would be a good fit for you. Reconnecting with acquaintances and colleagues from previous positions can be even more useful; they know people you don’t know and can add to your store of knowledge about companies you may not have considered.
Start with 15 to 25 companies as a working list and keep it updated. This is a life list that you can rely on for the rest of your career.
Research the target companies.
Once you’ve chosen the companies that you like, it’s time for due diligence. Start with finding first-degree connections, or people you know directly who work there, and initiate conversations about what it’s like to work at the company. If you can’t find someone you know, try to find someone who can introduce you to an employee who is willing to share his or her experience. You may also contact past employees, through personal connection or an introduction, and ask why they left the company. You can usually depend on an honest answer, which may offer a different perspective on the company culture.
Remember, you are not asking them about a job, you are still determining whether this is the company for you and seeking information and advice about whether to move forward. If it seems appropriate, you can ask for a recommendation from these contacts at the conclusion of your conversations.
Heighten Your Visibility.
When your research confirms the company is worthy of your attention, focus on establishing yourself as a viable prospect for working at the company. Involve yourself with events and conferences where you are likely to meet and interact with managers and staff from the company. Here you can convey your passion for the professional interests that you share and establish your own credentials as a potential work mate. It’s important to strike a balance between enthusiasm and moderation, when you want to be viewed as someone that could fit into the work culture.
Ask if you can connect on social media with the people you meet from your chosen company when the opportunity arises. You can demonstrate your compatibility with the company by sharing relevant articles and writing posts that showcase your interests and skills, inviting more widespread sharing and further adding to your visibility.
Cultivate relationships at the company.
Social media and business platforms are important components for the hiring process and that makes online connections essential for your targeted job search.
One of your top priorities is finding the recruiter for the company you are targeting and sending them a request to connect. Recruiters are a valuable resource, with large networks that they retain even when they switch companies. They are as interested as you are in expanding their own connections and are likely to agree. They may also be willing to offer advice for your quest of landing a position with the company.
When you connect to a recruiter, you rise higher on their search list when they have a position to fill. You also have access to company employees, widening your own network of connections and increasing the potential of landing that coveted employee referral.
Taking No for an Answer
Find a company you really admire, that has a product you like, and attracts people that you want to work with: that is Quibi CEO Meg Whitman’s advice. When you have the chance to work at a company you admire, you will radiate the positive attitude that management values, reflected in the saying, “Hire for attitude and train for skill.”
But sometimes you may have to accept that it isn’t happening, at least for now. When the company doesn’t bite, or you are turned down for a position, you will need to back away gracefully, without burning bridges in your retreat. Instead, demonstrate your capacity for resilience by thanking the people who helped you and maintaining the connections you cultivated.
There may be opportunities at the company in the future that will work out more successfully. In the meantime, you have several other companies on your target list that offer new worlds to explore.