I've always believed career management and job search cannot be a spectator sport. Yet so many people approach it as though watching the process unfold rather than actively participating. No wonder you end up feeling frustrated.
The Pinball Job Search
So you're starting a job search. What's the first thing you do? If you're like most people, the first thing you do is update your resume.
Then, you sit down and start trawling the Internet for jobs. You send off your resume with a happy expectation of receiving a quick response. You wait… And wait… And wait. You try a few more job boards.
You call your friends and tell them you are looking. You wait for the people to call you back. They're your friends right?
Now someone tells you that you need to get on LinkedIn. So you take your resume and slap it on LinkedIn, send out generic connection requests to everybody you can think of and... You wait.
It's not that all the steps are wrong. It's just that you haven't spent any time planning your approach. Most of us put more time and effort into planning a birthday party than we do our careers.
It's what I call the pinball strategy. You're always in reaction to one of the bumpers.
The Proactive Job Search
So what's the proactive approach? You need to look at your job search as though you were launching a new product or starting a business. You're the shiny new product that's going to market. So you need to start asking some questions:
- What do you do? (No, I don't mean “I'm a butcher, a baker, or candlestick maker.”) What problems do you solve? Why do people want to have you on their team? What is your value proposition?
- Who needs you? Who has the kind of problems that you solve? What’s your target market?
- Where do you want to do this? What are your geographic parameters?
- What type of company do you want to work for in terms of size, industry, etc.?
Once you know what you're looking for, it's a lot easier to find it.
Now it's time to start putting together your list of target companies. Here are the first three places to start:
- The Internet.
In some ways, the Internet has actually made job search harder, but research is one area in which it's really lived up to its promise of free, perfect, now. No more searching through the old Thomas Register-I spent one summer during college going through that venerable resource to create a database for business development. Believe me, Google is a lot faster, but don't overlook industry sites, trade associations, and specialty sites like www.manta.com and www.implu.com. LinkedIn can also be a treasure trove for identifying companies that meet your criteria and the bonus, you can see how to connect. [And find over 1,100 listings in Job-Hunt's Directory of Associations.]
- Your network.
Here's where those friends come in. Now that you know what you're looking for you can expect a lot more help. In my experience most people want to help you. They just don't know how. You need to talk to them about what it is you uncovered in all that soul-searching. Get some feedback on your self-assessment. Based on what they know about you, are there any companies they could suggest? If they have contacts at that company, can they introduce you?
- The library.
A good research librarian can be a job seeker's best friend. And don't forget, many libraries have access to some of the more expensive online company databases such as Hoover's and OneSource.
Great, now you have your product, you know your market, it's on to channel strategy. Stay tuned...
© Copyright Kathy Simmons, 2012. All rights reserved. Used with permission.
Proactive Job Search Expert Kathy Simmons is CEO of NETSHARE, the network for executives, where she sees her mission is to help NETSHARE members harness the Internet to advance their careers. Read Kathy's other musings on the NETSHARE Blog. Follow Kathy on Twitter @kathynetshare and connect with her on Linkedin linkedin.com/in/kathysimmons.
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