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Focus on these things to succeed in Career Change / Job Search

4 Job Search Starter Strategies for The New Year


{#/pub/images/4JobSearchStarterStrategiesforTheNewYear.jpg}So often I get a call from prospective job search clients. They usually tell me that they are applying to jobs but not hearing anything back. To me, that’s a sign that they probably don’t have a good job search strategy in place.


If you look at the numbers, you’ll know why. According to research by InterviewSuccessFormula.com, there were 3.6 million job openings at the end of 2012. But only about 20% of those available jobs were actually posted somewhere. 


So if your strategy is “apply to jobs” you have 2 problems:


  1. You are missing 80% of the potential market and,

  2. You are bottom feeding with everyone else whose job search activity is limited to “applying for jobs” that are posted.


What you NEED is a more comprehensive strategy, and one that will position you to compete both in a difficult job market, and, one wherein the vast majority of job finding is dependent on the relationships you build. 


Here are 4 strategies that will get you started. 

  1. Set your goal.

  2. Develop your self-marketing profile. 

  3. Target companies and organizations you’d like to work for. 

  4. Begin reaching out to your network. 

1. Set your goal.


Did you know only about 3% of people commit their goals to writing? Brian Tracy says the other 97% have “wishes, hopes and fantasies.” 


When you write things down, you crystallize your commitment to them. And the act of writing them increases enormously the likelihood that you will achieve your goals. 


Setting a goal helps you find meaning in the day-to-day activities of your job search. So when you get frustrated and think, “What am I doing this for?” you’ll have a guiding light in your goals! 


To set a good goal, use the ole’ SMART methodology. It should be Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Realistic, and Time-bound.


For example: 


“I will have a job in marketing / communications in the health care field in the Chicago metro area by March 15, 2014”


is much better than, 


“My goal is to find a job by the spring.”


As with so many aspects of the job search, specificity is your friend. The more specific you can be, the easier it will be to direct your day-to-day activity.


2. Develop your self- marketing profile. 


This is an assessment of your qualities, strengths, and employer-desirable skills. What are you good at? What evidence do you have about how you have demonstrated those capabilities? 




Because your job-finding campaign is based on your ability to help that employer solve his or her business problems. To position yourself as a competent candidate, you need to understand, and have strong messages about how you will help them do so. 


If you’re not sure what skills and strengths you really have, start with the StrengthsFinder tool. You can get the assessment at http://strengthstest.com/


I have all my clients complete this assessment. It usually enlightens them and gives them wording to connect to their value statements. 


You can also ask those around you what they see as your strong skills and working assets. 


3. Target the companies and organizations you believe are a good fit.


Now, this is a bit different from what I see many folks do today. I want you to step away from the “Spray and Pray” approach of predominantly “applying” for jobs online. 




Richard Bolles, author of What Color is Your Parachute? asserts the most effective way to find a job is to have a complete inventory of your skills, strengths, and then target organizations that do work that is interesting to you, and, to which you can contribute. Boo-yah!

When 80% of the jobs truly aren’t publicized, this wisdom is more applicable than ever. 


So how do you find organizations to target? 


  • Talk to people you believe are doing interesting work.

  • Using LinkedIn or Facebook, look at people in your network, who are connected to other people in your network, ask to meet with them. 

  • Google companies in your area, in industries that interest you, with products or services that interest you.

  • Go on Linked in, search jobs using keywords that interest you. Look at the jobs, the descriptions, the skills/experience they require. Start getting a picture of the things that are interesting to you. 

  • Look on Facebook company pages.

  • Look on company specific websites and pages. 

  • Go into the niche job boards, and just do some research. See what’s out there with regard to jobs that are already posted.


Develop a target list of 15 – 20 employers or industries that you want to focus on. Get started. Then, this list may morph and change as you meet new people and gather more information. So it’s a “living list,” but start with a foundation and go from there. 


All your strategies will be focused on expanding your ability to penetrate this list! 


4. Start reaching out to your network. 


One simple way to start reaching out to your network, and learning more about the organizations you’d like to work for, is to schedule informational interviews. 


Informational interviews are not job interviews. They are investigative opportunities for you to derive information about a job, company, industry, career space or person. 


They are led by you as the interviewer. The purpose is to help you garner information and exposure to support your job search strategy. 


Target people in your desired organization/industry. Do the research as IF IT WAS a job interview and have 5 to 7 good questions to discuss. Not questions you can find on Google, but good thought-provoking questions to pose to your expert. 


What you get from an informational interview:

  • The opportunity to showcase your talents and abilities,

  • The chance to build a relationship with someone you might not know very well.

  • The ability to make a memorable impression. When that person gets asked “hey do you know anybody who…” they might think of you. 

Identify 5 people with whom you could schedule an informational interview. I bet you know at least 5! 


I wrote at length about creating a great informational interview on a previous post. You can find it here (http://www.managingamericans.com/BlogFeed/Career-Change-Job-Search/The-Informational-Interview-Job-Search-Strategies-for-Grads.htm). 


Once you have a goal and a good marketing message, you can begin to target your ideal employers and build relationships with the people in them. 


In the next post, we’ll cover 5 strategies you can use, both online and offline, to further support your job search activities! 


What action are YOU going to commit to taking as you start the new year? Leave a comment below! 



{#/pub/images/LeaMcLeod.jpg}Written by Lea McLeod, M.A., Founder & CEO, Degrees of Transition 

Lea works extensively with new grads who are tackling the job search for the first time.  She is a guest speaker, as well as facilitator of the “Find a Job Faster” Job Search Program and “Developing Patterns of Success” Workshop & Webinar series, bringing over 20 years of director level experience, most recently with Hewlett-Packard, managing, leading and serving worldwide employees. She holds a degree in Marketing from St. Bonaventure University, and a Master of Arts in Organization Development from Seattle University.


Do you have a question for Lea?  Post it in our College Student/Recent Grad Community, she will be happy to help: Ask An Expert 


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