With so many job seekers losing unemployment benefits this fall, it’s a good time to review the principles of career development and job search — particularly for those in transition to a new field.
Last week’s column discussed the fundamentals of developing a career plan. Today’s looks at choosing a job target. The following weeks will explore steps for building skills, revising your resume and conducting a job search outreach.
If you feel as if you’ve been hitting your head against the wall in your job search, you may be right.
Job searches that rely on online postings are doomed almost from the beginning by one of these two failings: Either you know exactly what you want and you’re being very selective, or you’re very open and you’re responding to everything.
Isn’t there any middle ground where it’s effective to use online job boards? Not in my book, and here’s why: Most jobs that are open are not posted, and some that are posted will go to an inside candidate.
But just because there’s been no formal posting doesn’t mean a particular manager doesn’t need help.
The secret to connecting with the managers who are not posting their open positions is to know what kind of work you want to do next. From there you can identify the kinds of companies, and then the managers who could likely use your help.
This is called the “targeted job search” and it is considered the key to opening the so-called “hidden job market.” Here are three steps to get you started:
● Identify a job title or area. If you have a professional degree or license, this may be relatively easy. People with broader, less defined skill sets will find it more challenging and more important to choose a targeted job area. Look at the skills you most enjoy using at work and the job areas that use those skills. Or choose a target by identifying a career that has always interested you, or by looking at the fields or companies you believe are thriving.
● Research your job area. Use networking and research to learn everything you can about this work. What are the likely entry points for the field? How much training is needed? Career paths? Salaries?
● Create a target list of employers. Based on your research, you should be able to list employers who would potentially use a person in the job area you’ve identified. In urban areas, if I don’t see at least 50 organizations on this list, I conclude that the choice of a field may be too narrow.
Amy Lindgren owns Prototype Career Service, a career consulting firm in St. Paul. She can be reached at alindgren@prototype careerservice.com, or at 626 Armstrong Ave., St. Paul, MN 55102.