The first step to building a working target list is understanding why you need one. You then want to consider the foundational elements that go into building one, and finally how to use it as a living document that will evolve in line with your job search.
Why do I need a target list?
Motivational speaker Zig Ziglar said If you aim at nothing, you will hit it every time. Post-it notes spread across the pages of a notebook, across your desk or framing your laptop screen might make you look industrious but they don’t make you so. Piles of paper and notes stacked beside your desk might comprise a system that works for you, until your child, dog or spouse knocks it over. Notes neatly kept in a notebook are the next best thing to a target list, but even the most fastidious note-taker will start to lose track over time. As the targets, communications and activities grow, it’s difficult to remember who said what, when we were meant to follow up, and why exactly we no longer wanted to answer their calls. Great connections get lost in the pages, and within a few months our notebook more clearly resembles a rambling diary of job search hit or miss.
Rather than an archive collection of your job search experience, the target list is a living and proactive document meant to lead your activities and keep you on point and moving in the right direction. You control it, and it points the way.
As we often see in real estate, the best objects never officially reach the market. They are bought and sold behind the scenes. Jobs aren’t all that different. Many jobs, and often the best jobs, are never posted or advertised. They need to be uncovered through connections, conversations, and putting yourself in the right place at the right time. A target list will get your search and activities focused so you aren’t running hither and yon, wasting time on jobs you will never get or want, while missing opportunities that are a perfect fit.
Now that we’ve set the stage for target list need, be sure to look for Part II, which will focus on what is the target list and how to get it set up.