In our current economically challenged employment market, job seekers must flex every advantage, pull every string and develop strategies that focus on every aspect of an effective job search. Many jump into their search with little or no preparation or planning. Investing time in developing an effective job search strategy will pay off in the short and long term. A strategy refers to a plan of action designed to achieve a particular goal. Strategies may change throughout the job search life-cycle, and adjustments may be needed in your tactical plan. By assembling a strategy and set of tasks, you establish key components to keep you on track.
The purpose of creating a strategy is to identify major objectives to be met during your job search. Your tasks are part of a tactical plan geared to meeting specific objectives including; identifying potential target companies, industries, positions, network contacts, and your daily search routine.
Some of the most overlooks strategies in an effective job search are:
• The value of networking
• Tapping he hidden job market
• The value of researching positions, companies and the people who work there
• Persistence and planned followed up
Networking with business professionals, friends, past associates and new contacts expands your reach enabling you to gather valuable information about potential opportunities. People-know-people and in most cases they will refer you to decision makers who can assist uncovering hidden opportunities and connections.
Hiring managers, decision makers and executives typically are tuned into potential positions being discussed. Many executives have the authority to create positions that satisfy a critical need within organization. Additionally, a VP of Marketing may have a good friend at XYZ Company who has a need for a Senior Information Technology resource. Don’t limit your network and networking to decision makers in your field alone. Cast a broad net!
In order to tap the hidden job market, ask each contact the following question. Do you know decision makers who know people willing to talk briefly about your job search? The question opens a broad field of potential contacts with a snowball effect of offering many new resources that can assist you.
By using your existing contact list, your target companies, network contacts, schedule meetings and phone conversations to begin your search. You should have at least three major goals for each conversation: 1) Introduce yourself, highlighting your skills and experience and target positions and companies, 2) Seek out information about your contacts position within the company, responsibilities, challenges, hobbies etc. Offer your new contacts assistance by way of network referrals, information, etc. Demonstrate that you have a genuine interest in learning more about them. 3) Ask for referrals and additional network contacts that can assist with your search.
Researching the company, position, challenges and work environment will put you a step ahead of most other candidates. It’s easy to send a generic resume and cover letter and hope to hear back. In most cases you will not. A more effective approach is to research the position by making contact with people who work for or know about the company. Gather company information, learn about the work environment and the challenges the company and area faces. Use your information to demonstrate that in addition to being highly qualified candidate, you also have a good understanding of areas where you can provide additional value. Nick Corcodilos, The Headhunter, has written a number of excellent books about the value of demonstrating your ability to perform the job, understand the company challenges and have the abilities to present your skills against the position you are pursuing.
Persistence and planned follow up helps monitor your job search progress and is perceived as an excellent quality by professional contacts. Most professionals will view your persistence as a positive attribute, which will increase your chances of success.
Here are a few simple tasks you might want to consider adding:
• Maintain a daily log of all job search correspondence and include for each entry, date, contact name, title, company, reason or job etc. Include a comments area for updating the latest status and future follow up.
• Develop a simple follow up system to get back to contacts and potential opportunities,
• Be professional, don’t spam your contacts with excessive e-mails, phone calls or voice mails. Respect your contacts time and business schedule.
• Reasonable follow-up after your initial contact attempt might be three follow-ups over a three week period that includes phone calls and e-mails.
• If not response is received – move on to your next perspective contact.
• Grow your network of contacts through daily interactions. The more new contacts you make the greater opportunity you have to penetrate the hidden jobs market.
Revisit your strategy and tactical plans periodically and making adjustments based upon your success. Learn from failures and celebrate successes and never stop networking.