Does this sound like you? Each morning you log onto your computer, check your email, search the internet for new jobs on the job boards, submit a few resumes, write a few emails and then sit back and wait, only to do the exact same thing the following day? Have months gone by without many leads and you just cave into the negative feelings that bombard you from the press?
I believe there are jobs out there. I believe that if you have a solid resume with a solid background then you can and will find a job. But think about that sentence for a minute. Are you finding a job or hoping the job will find you? Why not get proactive and target your job search toward the exact job you desire?
First, you'll need to know what the perfect job for you looks like. Start by writing down all the things you loved about your last position. Next write down everything that either wasn't perfect or you disliked greatly about it...was the commute too long? Did you have to share an office? Did you love the free coffee? Think of everything you can and put it either in the "Things I loved" or "Things That I didn't Love" list. This could take a few days to complete.
Then take out a fresh piece of paper and write down everything you feel would be ideal in your next job. Perhaps you'd love to work from home three days per week, want to bring your dog to work, need to leave the office by three every day and have to be able to ride your bike. Ok. Write it down. All of it...from the environment, people, benefits, job content, upward mobility, industry, salary, bonuses, commute, company philosophy - all of it.
Second, do your research. You can utilize the tools on the internet to learn more about the companies in your area. Hoovers (the website) is a good place to do this research. You can also take a look at the financial websites for more information about company performance, number of employees, etc. Ask your friends if they know of any companies that match your ideal list too and research them. Find the companies which best fit your list of the ideal situation.
Third, write your list. Determine your top ten companies and then the next ten as backup. These companies will be your primary focus to which you will market yourself. And before you make one call, submit your resume to each of these companies via their websites.
Fourth, figure out the players. Which department could best utilize your skills and experience? Do you know anyone currently employed there? Who is in charge of hiring? Who in HR can you contact? By utilizing www.linkedin.com for this information, you should be able to find out how to get connected with the correct players.
Fifth, reach out. If you're having a difficult time finding out who to contact at the company, pick the name on LinkedIn that is the closest and give them a call. Introduce yourself by saying that you saw them on linkedin (which means they are in your network somewhere) and that you're looking for a referral into X department. Ask for a name. If they give you the HR department, so be it. Call HR and ask them for the name of the hiring manager. Keep calling until you find out exactly whom you need to contact.
Sixth, start building a rapport. The company may not have any openings right now that are a fit for you. Don't let that discourage you, especially if they are on your top ten target companies list. Know that every conversation, every email and every bit of follow up you do is building rapport. If you continue to approach them proactively and with a positive demeanor, they'll think of you first when they DO have a job opening.
Also keep in mind that somewhere behind the scenes they could be planning their headcount or budgeting for upcoming projects. Make sure you're at the top of their list for when the position opens by networking with the right people.
Here are a couple of additional things to think about:
- As you are getting to know the players at your target companies, ask them what you can do for them. Just say "what can I do to help you out today?" You might be surprised at the answers you receive. Even if they say "nothing", they will appreciate that you asked.
- Volunteer for a project to show them what you can do. Give them an opportunity to see you in action - volunteer to help them with a current project, proofread a whitepaper, promote something to your network, help them with a technical problem, work at their booth at the expo...whatever it is, offer yourself up and they will see that you are an enthusiastic team player!
- Get connected on LinkedIn and send them an email once in a while. Look for interesting articles that may be helpful to the folks with whom you are networking.
- Last, remember, you are being proactive here, but don't miss out on the job postings from other companies - keep doing your passive job searching even while you're targeting your ideal companies.