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Savvy executive job seekers know that targeting and job search research are the very first steps in landing a great-fit new job.
TARGET several employers that you feel will provide the kind of job you want.
RESEARCH each one for industry and company market intelligence.
Don’t even think of diving into updating your resume or LinkedIn profile, until you’ve done it!
Use the information below and in my worksheets (noted at the end) to determine how you will help your target employers. Can you help them increase and improve business? How will you be a valuable employee?
Next step after researching: Define your personal brand. Showcase your value-add in your resume, biography, LinkedIn profile, etc.
Job search research helps you with due diligence
When researching to prepare for interviews, Lindsay Tigar suggests in an article at The Ladders:
Look at their social media and blogs
“Nearly all businesses — no matter how large or small — have a social media presence these days. And for those companies that are savvy about search engine optimization or desire an outlet to showcase their perspective and values, a corporate blog is a must.
Take the time to dig through what they’re posting, read their articles and ask yourself some introspective questions. ‘Does it align with your own style and work culture? What is the tone or voice of the blog and social media and does it correlate with your own style?’”
Don’t forget networking for your job search research
Fred Coon of executive search firm Stewart, Cooper & Coon suggests:
“Try to get first-hand accounts on specific organizations by tapping into your current network and finding people who may currently be employed with your target companies. These can include people who previously worked with or served as independent contractors with them. Also, check the trades for more insight on industry trends as well as any information you can find on your target companies. Company competitors are also a great source of information, particularly about the industry.”
How to Conduct Your Job Search Research
Here are some of the ways and places to conduct research. Below this you’ll find information about my full worksheet for targeting and research to help you get all the company and industry info you’ll need.
Research to uncover the following:
- Company overviews and history
- Primary market
- Products and services
- Historical financials
Idealist.org suggests some criteria for your research, to confirm that an employer is a good fit for you:
- You like the culture and feel that you would be a good fit.
- Its mission aligns with your ethics and areas of interest.
- It meets your more practical requirements for a potential employer, such as size, location, and benefits.
- You have researched key leaders of the organization and are interested in working with them (even indirectly).
- You see opportunities for growth.
- You have attended (and enjoyed) an event hosted by the organization.
- You volunteered at the organization and enjoyed your experience. What made it enjoyable?
- You can identify ways in which you can bring your expertise to the table to further the organization’s mission, even if there is no job currently available.
Some places to research and find this information:
- Company websites
- Google Search – Employees, products, services
- SEC – Reports on public companies
- Yelp – Consumer ratings for various service-related companies
- Libraries – Librarians are trained research experts with access to materials you may not find elsewhere
Two excellent places for job search research
LinkedIn is loaded with information-mining potential, and since you should be there networking into jobs anyway, it makes perfect sense to dig a little deeper and do some of your research there, too.
Here are some of the ways and places to do research on LinkedIn:
- Search LinkedIn Jobs by job title, relevant skills or company
- Look at the LinkedIn (company) Pages of your target employers and study the details
- Look at the profiles of employees of your target employers
- Get salary information using LinkedIn’s database
You may feel that, since it’s the digital age, job boards are the best place to find and land a job.
But they can yield dismal results, for various reasons:
- Jobs posted may not be legitimate openings.
- Job descriptions may not truly represent the job.
- Even if jobs are no longer open, they may still linger on the job board.
- If your resume isn’t formatted or written properly, it may not make it through their Applicant Tracking System.
- You may not be able to delete your resume from their database once you land a job. This makes you forever appear as an active job-hunter and can jeopardize future jobs.
Instead, a much better way to spend your time is networking – the old-fashioned way to land a job.
Networking is the only way to tap into the goldmine of “hidden” jobs that never show up on job boards, and are not advertised anywhere.
So I don’t advise that you spend much of your job search time lingering on various job boards and responding to job postings.
But job boards are great for research.
You’ll find lots of useful info about your target employers and industry by reading relevant job descriptions.
Get My Full Proprietary Worksheet for Job Search Targeting and Research
The research suggestions above represent just a portion of the important work you need to do, as the first steps in a successful job search. The full worksheet covers it all – how and where to find information on companies/organizations, industry and people.
I’m now offering the full job search targeting and research worksheet. This is the actual proprietary worksheet I use with my clients to help them land jobs they covet and deserve.
But that’s not all. You’ll also get my Career History Worksheet to help you dig deep for metrics and benefits you’ve brought to past employers. That’s the kind of information that helps employers see what you’ll be able to do for them.
In all, you’ll get more than 15 pages, with dozens of DIY tips and advice to help you identify target employers and determine what makes you unique and valuable to them. The work you do using my worksheets will also help you network and interview better.
Along with the 2 worksheets, here’s some of the other information included:
- How today’s job search is different than before
- Why you must begin your job search with targeting and research
- The problems with job boards, including the resume Applicant Tracking System (ATS) conundrum
- How to use job boards for research and market intelligence
Get my full job search targeting and research worksheet (with all the extras noted above) . . . OR the complete package of my 4 proprietary executive job search worksheets.
Along with the Targeting & Research and Career History Worksheets, the complete worksheet package includes my 2 other proprietary worksheets and so much more:
- Personal Branding Worksheet
- Biography Worksheet
- Numerous resources and DIY tips and strategies to help you land the job you want.
Read about and purchase the worksheets here.
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Rich Marsh says
Meg, the US Department of Labor has a very powerful tool to help job seekers identify target companies. Go to careeronestop.org. Under the Job Search section, on the lower right you’ll find Business Finder. You can put in a job title, and a zip code, and it will tell you every company that reported employing someone with that job title in the previous government fiscal year. It will blow your mind how many places there are. GIve it a try.
It usually lists organization name, address, website, sometimes the HR manager’s name, phone number, and often a map to where it’s located. You can download it to a spreadsheet, and then use the list to build a target companies list. We then stress using the tools available for free, from many public libraries. For example, Data Axle’s Reference Solutions tool. That pulls together a ton of information.
Meg Guiseppi says
Rich, thanks for providing this useful information.
David Freeman says
Wonderful information, Meg. These are valuable resources to discover your Dream Job Candidates. Before you attempt to sell yourself to a specific organization or decision maker, FIRST learn specifically:
1. WHO they are.
2. WHAT they do.
3……and WHY they do it.
Thanks for the summary of connections and resources.
Meg Guiseppi says
Thank you for your kind words, David, and for your insightful comment.