If you took the brief quiz I previously posted (find it here) and learned that you were not quite “job search ready,” the next few posts will help you get there.
Once you’ve determine you’re ready for a change in your career, the most important part of your job search strategy is defining your target. Unfortunately, this is also the step where many job seekers skimp.
Watch on Forbes:
I’m not talking about picking a general direction. That can be labor-intensive for some as well. However most eventually pick a path, then jump right into applying for jobs without pausing to create a strategy. This is equivalent to tearing open a box from IKEA and ignoring the instructions. It can sabotage the entire process, leaving you with a backward-facing drawer and leftover screws.
Like a solid business plan for a start-up, you’ll save a lot of frustration if you set your strategy in a job search, and the first step is crafting an understandable and specific target. Here’s why:
1. It eliminates time wasted pursuing leads that are outside of your scope
2. It clarifies your brand value proposition which will be important to hiring managers
3. It makes you appear confident and focused to your network and potential employers
4. It enables your contacts to look for relevant opportunities to bring back to you
Here’s how to create a clear job search target:
1. Identify your audience: Whose problems do you intend to solve (include industries, clients, decision-makers, etc.)? Can you identify sub-industries, define customer demographics and highlight your audience’s biggest pain points?
Example: I want to work in the wearable technology space marketing gadgets designed to help young people live healthier lives (e.g., Fitbit) to prevent diseases such as diabetes and obesity. A major challenge in the industry is making products affordable to the populations that can benefit most such as school systems. There are also legal challenges related to using wearable technology in certain environments where it’s banned due to security concerns.
2. Market: How are economic, political, cultural, technological and global influences shaping the field? Is demand growing or shrinking? Are the required skills changing or perhaps the field is moving from seeking specialists to generalists?
Example: By 2050, there will be an additional 18 million people diagnosed with diabetes in the U.S., and it’s skyrocketing in children/adolescents. The wearable tech market is projected to be valued at $34 billion by 2020. Schools are currently looking for cost-effective ways to bring this technology to classrooms, and greater scrutiny is being placed on privacy and security of engaging these devices.
3. Geography: Where will your ideal role be located? Do you need to rely on public transit to commute or is it time for a cross-country move?
Example: My ideal location is Silicon Valley where: the tech giants are located, I attended college, and my spouse has family. A second option would be to remain in Denver within 30 miles of the Tech Center.
4. Companies: What companies offer these opportunities? Are you most comfortable in global organizations with plenty of structure or nimble companies where your impact can be greater?
Example: Check out The 2-Hour Job Search where Steve Dalton shows how to create a list of 40 companies, forcing you to look beyond household names to small-to-mid-sized companies that align with your target.
5. Culture: What type of environment best suits you? Do you prefer a family-friendly culture or do you thrive in a startup where you might be asked to hop on a flight across the country at any moment?
Example: With a family including young children, I want to limit travel to 25%. I’d like a company I can grow with, so it’s important they promote from within and have solid health and retirement benefits. I prefer a collaborative environment, but don’t thrive in ambiguity, so clear expectations and deadlines are important.
6. Expertise: What skills, experience and knowledge do you bring to the market? What do you offer that differentiates you from other candidates?
Example: With 10 years of marketing experience and a deep knowledge of distribution channels, I can drive strategy for pricing, product positioning, lifecycle management, and competitive analysis. I’ve worked cross-functionally (Sales, Ops, Finance, IT, Legal) on company-wide pricing initiatives and my prior background as an attorney earlier in my career gives me a unique advantage in decoding policy and negotiating deals.
7. Function (bringing it together): How will you use your expertise to solve your audience’s biggest pain points?
Example: I’m seeking Marketing Strategy roles in the wearable device industry in small, established, Silicon Valley companies such as [X, Y and Z from #4] looking to grow their market into social impact initiatives such as schools. Using my background in pricing and expertise negotiating cross-functionally with departments like operations and engineering, I’m able to lead cost reduction measures to both optimize profitability and make wearable technology affordable to the masses. Additionally, my knowledge of policy law will be an asset in breaking through the legal red tape that could be a barrier to entry in this market.
You don’t need to (nor should you) relay every detail of your target strategy to your network, but you should be crystal clear. After all, it’s hard to hit a bullseye you can’t see.
If you’re worried your target is too narrow, don’t. Most err on the side of too broad, which comes across as disorganized or unprepared to others (e.g., “I’ll live anywhere on the East Coast“ or “Any job in the tech start-up space would be great” are probably not true statements and sound flaky). Your goal is to convince a contact to help you build your network or an employer to hire you, so be confident and decisive.
If you do this right, completing your job search target strategy will take time, introspection and research. Engage online sources, tap into your network and subscribe to publications in your target field.
Like carefully laying out each piece from the IKEA box before starting to build, this isn’t the most exciting part of the job search, but if you want the highest probability of great results, it’s worth it.
Reposted from: Forbes.com