Is your job search stalled? Have you applied for job after job online and heard crickets? It happens in many cases, especially when you haven't approached it strategically. Simply sitting at your computer, scanning the online job boards and applying then and there is not going to gain you much traction. When planning for college, you don't just go to the first one you see. Or house hunting. No, you do your homework. You conduct research on what each has to offer, speak to people who are familiar with it to glean what it's really like without relying on its own press. You visit and get to know its culture. Just like a relationship, the right job for you will match not only your profession, but your personal values. So how do you do this? What's involved?
I work with clients to develop marketing plans. This is my favorite tool for the job search and I rank it right up there with LinkedIn in proactively landing your next job.This tool allows you to clearly define the value you bring to your work and to define the attributes of the organizations you want to pursue, yes PURSUE! Don't sit and wait for companies to come to you. Get out there and find them.
The first step is defining your value add. What are the competencies you have? These include technical skills, experience, and soft skills to name a few. You may be skilled in management or technology or accounting. Next, for each of these competencies, what individual skills do you have? If you're a talented manager, you probably have good communication skills, and good coaching skills. You start to see the pattern here. Identify your most valuable skills and list them.
I remember one client coming to me after I 'forced' her to build her marketing plan. She was amazed at how enlightening the process was for her! Having worked for years, she had built skills on the job without realizing them. This process forced her to slow down and take a good hard look at what she has to offer. This subsequently allows you to speak to your strengths with others.
With YOUR value add defined, the next thing is to identify the value your target companies have. Just like a relationship, it's important to share the same values as your organization. Nothing makes for an unhappier, and less successful, career than to be in a company that is not the right fit for you. Is work/life balance important to you because you have young children? Then you undoubtedly want to work for a company that allows for that. Are you highly creative and thrive best in a flexible environment? Then you most likely want to avoid a very bureaucratic and structured organization. And so the list goes on. Really think hard and identify those qualities that resonate most with you. When were you happiest in your previous work? Where were you most successful? These are all clues to help you draw up this list. Along with this, what are the demographic and geographic attributes you seek? Local companies only, or are you open to relocation? Large established companies, or small start ups? Spend the time to identify these items.
The final step is to identify industries where you would like to work along with the companies that fall into that category. You may enjoy software development, leadership, and project management in a fast-paced high technology company. Ok! You can start your list. There are many resources for this part of the search: glassdoor.com, linkedin.com, friends, neighbors, family. In the Puget Sound area, you can look at the Puget Sound Business Journal Book of Lists that provides a myriad of lists of companies in the Puget Sound by industry. Build your list with controlled abandon! Once you've got a healthy start, begin your research. Talk to people who've worked there. Read reviews on glassdoor.com. Seek informational interviews with current and past employees. And finally, check the media. What's been in the news recently? Is it relevant to your search?
Do these three simple steps to create your marketing plan and your search will be elevated! You'll be strategically targeting only those companies where you will be happy and flourish, both personally and professionally.
Andrea Cole is a coach for individuals seeking to achieve their goals, both personally and professionally. She offers career search coaching on resumes, LinkedIn profiles and usage, networking and interviewing to those in the job search, and life coaching to those wishing to elevate the quality of their life. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Andrea's passion is to see you achieve your professional dreams. Whether you are a corporate leader seeking leadership development for your employees or an individual seeking guidance in building your career or preparing for retirement, she will coach you to success.