Many students, friends, and clients, have told me they intend to look for a new job this year. When I ask the obvious question – "What are you looking for?" – their responses are almost always ambiguous. Few people can identify the industry, company, or even city of the job they want.
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For a more focused job search – one guided by a laser-like precision – I'd suggest following the advice of Debra Wheatman at Marketing News. Wheatman suggests taking the following steps to conduct a more targeted job search:
1. Conduct a Personal aAssessment
Know what, whom, and where you want to be. Know why you've made these choices. Granted, things can change and life happens, but you need to start your search with a road map to guide your journey.
2. Do Your Research
The internet gives you access to all the information you need to investigate industries, companies, locations, executives, mission statements, salaries, annual reports, reviews from employees, and a lot more. There's no excuse for not doing your homework!
3. Define Your Goal
Keep narrowing your search. A job search is like a funnel: All the possibilities go in the top, and the answers are filtered out of the bottom. Just like you can have more than one resume, you can have more than one funnel/search. Keep the separate funnels on separate tracks.
4. Identify Avenues for Professional Development
Never stop learning about your field and how you can succeed in it. Take classes, watch webcasts, listen to podcasts, view TED Talks, read trade periodicals, volunteer to teach others, and join industry organizations.
5. Improve Your Personal Brand
On a job search, you are the product you're marketing. Fnd ways to stand out from the competition. Hone your resume, complete your LinkedIn profile, perfect your elevator pitch, and print up business cards to pass out.
6. Network With Industry Leaders
I can already hear the groaning about dressing up and schmoozing with strangers. It's not easy, but networking is necessary. Those who are bad at it become forgettable wallflowers. Those who good at it become memorable, and people want to work with them.
Take those business cards to association meetings. Go to conferences and listen to speeches. Meet people and follow up with "nice to have met you" emails. You're not asking for a job; you're introducing yourself and seeing how things play out.
7. Branch Out
Use professional associations, LinkedIn, Twitter, or your own website/blog to get the message out about your job search. Let family and friends know of your targeted campaign. They may not be able to help, but they may know someone who knows someone who can.
A flashlight approach is broad, scattered, and a waste of your time. By knowing what you want – and what you don't – you take a more precise, laser-like approach to the job search. You'll be more likely to hit your target that way.
Ferris Kaplan is founder of Best of You Resumes.