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A Targeted Job Search Could Make 2012 a Very Good Year

Once again we’re into a New Year. Most of us have reflected on things that need to change and we’ve made our resolutions. Now may be the time to make a change that will bring more balance and happiness to your life. The truth is, the happier you are, the more productive and successful you will be.

But it may be hard to get started, especially if “get a new job” is high on the list of priorities. Rather than dread job-hunting in the New Year, you can embrace it—once you have a grasp of the how to do it well. You can make 2012 the year for change if you conduct a smart job search. Now is the right time to put a plan into action!

There are a couple of things to keep in mind above all else: you want to find a job you really like, and you’ll probably have to outclass a lot of competition to get an offer.

So many people simply update their résumés—without enough thought—answer ads randomly, go on a few interviews and send thank-you notes. They post their résumés on Internet job boards and websites—as do hundreds of thousands of other job hunters who assume that this is the modern way to job search. HR inboxes are swamped, and most of those résumés are simply deleted.

There is another way to get noticed.

Interviews and offers happen when job hunters search in an orderly manner, heeding the mantra of the Five O’Clock Club:  “Target, Target, Target!”

What do we mean by this? We’ll look at this in detail shortly, but hold this thought: a target is:

  • A geographic area
  • An industry, or company size
  • A function or role

When job hunters follow the steps that are described below, they usually land better jobs much more quickly than others do—and at higher rates of pay. These steps are part of the Five O’ Clock Club methodology, which is based on proven research. When job hunters combine our rigorously targeted approach with attendance at our weekly strategy sessions, they find jobs in an average of 16.4 weeks compared to the national average of 35 weeks.

Determine Your Goal:

First, decide what you want.

What is that big change you need to make? Is it time to change jobs? Transfer to another department, branch or city? Work in a different industry? Take time to review your accomplishments and your strongest and most enjoyable skills. What do you do well and makes you happy? Do not pass GO until you have done The Seven Stories Exercise! Then finish the Forty-Year (or Fifteen-Year) Vision Exercise, which will help you identify goals to achieve in your life and career. These exercises are crucial in forging a targeted search.

Brainstorm Your Target List

It is common for people to come up with at least three or four targets on which to focus—at least initially. But then they need more. With family, friends and your small group at the Club, brainstorm as many job targets as possible. Research fuels the brainstorming: use the library and the Internet. Investigate industries, companies and other geographical locations that may have more opportunities for you or that will provide a better environment or commute. Speak with people in your targeted fields, and attend industry association meetings to meet key players. Learn as much as you can about a city you are considering a move to. Know all the factors that will affect you and your family. We encourage job hunters to build a list of approximately 200 positions, which may be spread over many targets. Although first overwhelmed at the thought of identifying 200 positions, clients are thrilled when they grasp the power of conducting a search in such an organized way. They get highly motivated to define their targets and create the list, following this formula:

  • A geographic area
  • An industry, or company size
  • A function or role

In any of the geographical areas you have selected—maybe just one—identify how many companies in that area would be of interest to you, and how many positions at your level that each one has (not openings, but positions). Then plug in the numbers. How close are you to 200? Initially you don’t have to know for sure; make educated guesses. Your research will help you refine the numbers.

Once you have come up with this chart of targets and positions, your research can go into high gear. You need to determine if those positions are worth exploring further before you conduct a full-fledged job search in each target. Look for trends and future prospects, areas of growth and decline, and the culture of those organizations. Identify the best companies, then the second-tier and third-tier companies in each of your targets. The results are exciting! This approach will help you to feel very positive; and it will then be very clear just how many options you have within each of your targets.

Use a Targeted Resume and Cover Letter

Traditionally, people have created one résumé, and consider it all all-purpose document. They send it to every employer, for every position they apply for. But that approach won’t work now in a highly competitive job market. Résumés and cover Letters should be tailored to match each position you apply for. Once you have a target map of 200 positions in front of you—and your research has uncovered unique issues about each organization—then the need for targeted résumés and cover letters becomes obvious.

Targeted documents are more likely to attract the eye of recruiters and hiring managers, who will be able to see more clearly that your skills and experience match their needs.

Contact Recruiters and Hiring Managers by Target

Aim to build a list of 6 to10 people you can keep in contact with on a regular basis in each target. These will be people who are appropriate—in terms to connecting you with people who matter in your targeted areas. Direct contact is a great technique if you are interested in changing careers, because people will meet with you when you show interest in their field or industry, whether or not there is actually a job available. If you want to make a career change, your current list of networking contacts probably does not include people in the new field. Direct contact means aggressively pursuing specific people (i.e., former colleagues, an association president, a hiring manager, CEO, CFO, etc.)  Networking (using someone else’s name to get in) and direct contact are both proactive techniques to be used in securing meetings in your target market. Networking and direct contact complement one another and, when used together, are especially effective.

If a better job or career direction is your goal for 2012, you can probably make it happen, even in this tough job market that doesn’t seem to go away. But the key concept to keep in mind is TARGET. Take a deep breath, and keep repeating, “Target, target, target”—and have a very Happy New Year!

By Nancy Karas, Senior Five O’Clock Club Coach


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