Watch any action movie and you might get the impression that taking aim isn’t necessary to hit a target. Nothing could be farther from the truth in terms of marksmanship, and aim is definitely essential when you’re looking for a job.

If you don’t know what your target is, how can you ever get the job you want?

Choosing the right targets is the key to job-hunting success. The process, however, is a bit more complex than just lining up the figurative crosshairs. A good job target should be specific in three ways: geographically, size-wise and positional.

Targeting the geographic area

A basic online search for your desired job description can yield an overwhelming number of results, many of them in geographic locations you would never consider. Just as you employ filters to refine an Internet search, you can use key questions to refine the geographic scope of your job hunt. Here are some questions to ask and answer:

  • Do you want to work close to home, or are you okay with a commute?
  • Is relocation a possibility, or are you bound to your current geographic location?
  • Does a small town or city appeal to you more?
  • Is it important to be near your family?
  • How are the job prospects for your industry in your current location? Are they better elsewhere?

Targeting the right company/industry

Some people say they don’t care what industry they work in as long as they can do their job and get paid well. But that’s rarely true. Everyone has industries they would prefer and others they would never consider at all.

Narrow your targets by considering all the industries you could work in, such as publishing, nonprofits, education, food processing, and others. Now take another look and cross off the ones you just wouldn’t consider. For example, if you hate the outdoors, you can probably cross the adventure travel industry off your list. Love helping people? You might move nonprofit to the top of your list.

Targeting the right position

Here’s where you want to really amp up your out-of-the-box thinking. Many people search for jobs based on what they have done, rather than what they could do. In addition to the jobs you know your skills apply to, consider others where your experience, talents and expertise could be applicable.

You leveraged your accounting degree to land jobs in accounting offices, but might it also make you a good personal finance advisor? Or a teacher of personal finance in a high school setting? Think of all the ways your skills could work for you, and you’ll expand the potential targets for your job search.

Once you’ve refined your target filters, it’s time to act. Search for opportunities that meet all your criteria and list them according to which you’ll pursue first. You’ll likely focus your most intense efforts on a handful of prospects, and that’s fine to start with. But GetFive encourages job-seekers to have no fewer than 200 target positions on their lists. That number of prospects could result in several interviews and one job offer.

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