Often job seekers hit a roadblock in the process of searching for their ideal career. "I've written my resume and my cover letter is coming along, but now what do I do?" is a common dilemma for many. If you have completed the self-assessment stage carefully, you will have defined your 1) geographic area of preference 2) career field of preference. Now it's time to target all the employers in that geographic area who hire for those types of jobs. Here are some tips to get you started in this vital step in the process:
1. Determine the Information You Need
Some key points that you will want to discover might include: the mission and corporate philosophy, the size of the firm, potential growth of industry/field, company short and long-term outlook, type of people they employ, training, products/services, major competitors, types of jobs, turnover, salary ranges, and current news events.
2. Organize Your Prospecting
As you begin to uncover people and places to send your resume, develop a chart to keep track of your progress. Create a spreadsheet with the following headings: Name of Employer, Contact Person, Address/Phone, Date Sent Resume, Follow-up Call Date, Interview Date, Thank You Note, and finally, Offer. This way you have a written record of the action you have taken with each contact. Staying organized also will give you a better sense of the number of resumes you have sent out.
3. Research the Career Field, the Employer and the Job
Companies perceive your research into these three areas as critical in evaluating an applicant's interest, initiative and savvy. The purpose is to gather information to determine if the career field, employer and job are a good match, and to identify the needs of the firm for better marketing of your background. It will give you increased confidence when answering interview questions.
4. Target 3 Types of Potential Employers
You will want to consider your job search in terms of: 1) reach/ideal employers - hard to get into firms 2) middle companies - where you will probably get an interview, and 3) employers that you would consider as safeties.
5. Approach Job Prospecting as a Project
Since searching for places to send your resume will not come to you overnight, be sure you commit time to this project. You will need to put together a regular reading program career books, newspapers, trade publications, websites, LinkedIn groups, annual reports, sales/marketing brochures, magazines and periodicals. You'll get out of this project exactly what you put into it.
6. Identify Places to Find Job Leads
No single source will have everything you need. Your first stop should be your city library. Here you will find directories, reference books, professional association information, and job binders. The Career Center at your alma mater or local community college is another resource. They may be able to advise you of the recruiters they are working with.
7. Use the Internet
Do a Google search on the fields, jobs and companies that interest you the most. Be sure to set up a complete LinkedIn profile so you can begin to build your network of connections that can open doors for you. LinkedIn, Twitter and Facebook are important tools in investigating companies. Make sure you are creating a social media brand that will impress a potential employer.
8. Use Media Resources to Provide Additional Targets
Viewing or listening to CNN news reports, NPR's Marketplace or CBS's MarketWatch can keep you abreast of trends. I strongly encourage you to read the newspaper especially the Business Review. On a regular basis I find companies that are expanding and adding positions. These job openings are rarely advertised in the classifieds.
9. Networking, Networking, Networking
The number one job search strategy is networking. As you are developing your list, be sure to contact your family, friends, fellow alumni, colleagues, and others in your personal and professional network. Ask them if they know of three people that you could speak to for help. Often they can provide leads that are not available in any written source.
10. Overestimate Your List
You will need to determine the size of your list and rank them by hiring potential. Probably, you will need to send your resume to more places that fit your profile than first expected. You may need to send out three to five resumes a week or more for several weeks in order to generate the right number of interviews and offers. Develop a time frame that works for you.
Once you have developed your "prospect list" then you will be ready to implement the various strategies for an organized job search campaign. By successfully researching employers, you will be investing your time wisely.
I welcome your questions and comments.