We’ve looked at why we need a target list, the basic building blocks, and now we’ll discuss how to make it work for you.
Ready. Aim. Fire. This is always the correct order when trying to hit a target, yet so often in this business we see Ready. Fire. Aim. This is when job seekers say “I can do this job!” but forget to ask themselves “Am I a good fit for the role?” If this is you, your aim is off and you likely aren’t even using the right ammo. Either way, being the chosen candidate is a less likely outcome.
Let’s start at the beginning and ask ourselves what employers hire in my area of expertise?
Ready through Research and Resources
To identify viable employers, there are many websites for job seekers, and we recommend using such online tools as LinkedIn, Indeed, Glassdoor, and just using Google to look up employers and jobs to get started. The Business Journal’s “Book of Lists”, industry associations, your local library, and the Chamber of Commerce can also serve to be excellent resources with little to no cost. If you attended college or a trade school, the career center will have many resources available to you, including useful alumni lists. Fortune, Forbes, and Inc. Magazine are also resources that rank companies by a variety of criteria, including top 100 and 500 companies, blue ribbon companies, most admired companies, best small companies, and so on. You can also learn a lot by visiting a company’s website or LinkedIn page. Google them to read the latest news or announcements, to learn of any recent growth- or community-based initiatives.
Agency recruiters can also be a key player in your search. Use more than one, but use this list to keep track. You can group your recruiters at the bottom of your target list, but by tracking recruiters you know who’s got your information, and by tracking employers/jobs you know where you’ve been submitted. A well-managed target list will help you avoid double submittals and awkward conversations.
By using any, all or a combination of these resources, you will gather information on size, mission, reviews, ratings, benefits, corporate culture and values, and more. Use this information to complete your ranking relative to what you learned. Remember, “A” companies are those you definitely want to catch their attention. “B” are good but there’s still more to learn, and “C” still remain somewhat of a question mark or mystery. Ask yourself for each potential target, “Would this organization need a person with my skills?” If the answer is “yes,” then add it to your list.
Cross out those companies that aren’t a good fit at all. You have discovered they’re planning to downsize or move operations across the country, they won’t let you bring your dog to the office, or work a flexible shift. No matter the reason in the eyes of others, if it isn’t a good fit, don’t waste your ammo.
Things which matter most must never be at the mercy of things which matter least. (Goethe)
If your list is now too small, research competitors to your targets. They may be good objects, as well.
Time to go on the offensive. Use the phone, email, snail mail, and online application portals to make yourself known to the companies and people on your list. Be patient, calm and strategic. Your excitement at finding the perfect job will rarely be met by them thinking they’ve found the perfect candidate.” You’ve taken all this time to get to know them, and now they need time to learn about you. Don’t force yourself, but be pleasantly persistent. As your search progresses, use this target list to make note and keep track of all activities and interactions. When the history piles up and things start to break in your favor, you’ll be glad you have this tool to keep everything in line.
As implausible as it seems in the murky muddle of the search, things will eventually turn and you’ll find yourself with one or more offers. Keep this list where you can easily access it for next time, and you will be able to start well ahead of the game.