Friday, November 29, 2013


Targeting companies of special interest to you is the most effective strategy for job search. This is particularly true when you are looking for a senior level position.

This strategy begins with research into your target industry, and leads to the identification of companies that interest you based on size, growth potential, location and other factors important to you.

You will need to regularly update your target list based on research and your contacts with these companies. This process will also yield information about the names and titles of persons you need to approach in each company. You can find the list of companies by going to the yellow pages of the local phone directories, business directories available in public libraries, as well as online directories. Once you have a list of potential employers, you can research them by going to the employer websites, reading employer’s annual reports, and searching for outside profiles of employers such as those available at Some of the online business directories also include links to company websites. Another element in this research is to go to a search engine such as  and find additional information about the company’s products, customers, and senior officers, which will enable you to network your way into those companies, or make direct contact with hiring managers. This approach requires a clear understanding of your skills and interests, and the ability to conduct extensive research of possible employers. It requires deciding what kind of companies to research, what to look for, and how to prioritize the companies you have picked.

When you have researched your target companies, you will know their operations, and the type of opportunities available with them that match your skills and experiences. You should send a personalized letter to the hiring manager at each company explaining how your background and experiences match the company’s requirements, and attach a copy of your resume. You should state in your letter when you will call the hiring manager to set up an appointment for interview. In addition to approaching target companies by mail, you could call the hiring manager on the phone, briefly describe your qualifications and job interest, and try to get an appointment for a face-to-face interview. Remember to prepare a written outline of what you are going to say before you make that phone call. You should be able to set up some job interviews using this approach. Another possible approach is to go to the employer location, and try to meet with the hiring manager without an appointment. If you are not able to see the hiring manager, try to get a date and time when you could come back for an interview. If you are told there are no job openings, express your interest in future vacancies, and still try to get an interview. A personal visit to the job location can help you to establish contacts. Also, this is an opportunity to pick up some literature about the employer that could help you when you come back for an interview.

While large companies remain excellent places to work, many small to medium size companies are offering wonderful career opportunities.

Small companies give you the opportunity to be a big fish in a small pond. You can have broader responsibility and more impact on the company’s operation in a short time. When preparing a list of your target companies, do not limit yourself to just large corporations. There is often big opportunity in small companies. If you are planning to target small companies, you can often find opportunities by contacting venture capital firms, private equity firms, small business services, and corporate attorneys who maintain a roster of small to medium sized clients. By going to people who work closely with smaller companies, you can often get a warm introduction into several companies at once. Many firms that work with small and medium businesses are happy to make introductions to senior management at their client companies because it demonstrates additional value that they provide to the small and medium business owner.

Targeting companies of special interest is the most effective job search method. But it does not always lead to a successful job search for all candidates who rely upon it exclusively. You must plan to use three to four different job search methods for successful completion of your job search.

Sunday, November 17, 2013


This is a statement of the kind of job you want based on a clear understanding of your skills and interests. It tells your prospective employers what you are looking for. You may define it by picking a job title such as “Sales Representative” or by selecting a range of job titles such as “Marketing Management”. This would help you in putting together your resume and cover letters. By focusing on jobs that match your skills and interests, you improve the chances of finding a suitable position.

In addition, you need to develop the key message you are going to convey to prospective employers and to those in your network. This message describes how you are a good candidate for the position you are pursuing. You will put your key message in your resume and repeat it again and again in job interviews. That means going beyond determining a job title or cluster of jobs that will suit you. You have to prepare a key statement that describes you to prospective employers.

Prepare yourself to answer the question that often comes up in job interviews: “Why should we hire you?”  This question is a test of your ability to select the relevant portions of your background to show how you meet the job requirements, and present that information clearly in a two-minute presentation. You should write such a statement, practice how you will deliver it in a job interview, and review it carefully to use in your resume.

To prepare your key message, you need to go to your list of accomplishments and skills and then describe your strengths to do the job you want. You need to focus on your desired job when preparing your key message. It should provide evidence that you can effectively handle the job you want to do. You should state your skills, personal qualities, experience and accomplishments that support the cluster of jobs that you are seeking. Your key message will guide your communications including resume preparation, conversations with contacts in your network, and job interviews.

Preparing a list of your skills and linking your skills with stories of accomplishments is a good way to begin to develop your key message. As you proceed with your job search and share your key message in your conversations and written communications, you will certainly find ways to refine your message and present stories of your accomplishments. Keep your target audience uppermost in your mind when you prepare and revise your key message. Discuss your key message with some friends, and particularly with two to three professionals in your field, who can give you an objective assessment.
Most people underestimate their value. They do not realize the skills and experience they bring to the table.