The Job Search Strategy You Need To Try

By Lauren McGoodwin

Ringing in the new year makes us all reflect on the past twelve months and consider where we hope to be this time next year. And while some resolutions are basically made to be broken (like learning to speak Portuguese on our own… ahem), others are made because we really are ready to commit to them. One change you may find at the top of your list this year is to find a new job.

Here’s something counterintuitive to consider: you don’t have to hate your current job to make finding a new one your goal this year. Take stock of your current position and think about where you see it going over the next year. If you know you’ve grown as much as you can at your current company or are interested in switching industries, it might be time for a career change. Sometimes, liking where you work isn’t enough of a reason to stay.

Normally looking for a job goes something like this: after some soul-searching, you decide you’re ready for a new career adventure. Then every night when you go home and scour job boards like it’s your second job hoping the perfect fit pops up. But if night-after-night you come across jobs that have the right titles, but the company cultures don’t seem to fit who you are and who you want to be, it might be time to reverse your job hunting strategy. How? By targeting companies, not jobs.

*featured image via Sandra Semburg

photo by dulcet creative via the glitter guide

Find the Company You Want to Work For

Instead of passively searching through countless job postings only to find yourself inevitably disappointed by the companies that are hiring, take action by seeking out the companies you want to work for first. First, write down a list of dream companies. Is there an industry you are dying to break into? Start there. Research a few companies in your dream industry to see if they appeal to you. Do you see yourself fitting in at a small company or are you looking to grow at a larger one? Create a list of ideal companies based on your findings before you actually start your job search.

photo via the sweetest thing blog

Do Your Research

If the Devil Wears Prada taught us anything, “dream jobs” aren’t always what they’re cracked up to be. The job a million girls would kill for might not be the best fit for you. So before you jump the gun and start sending your resume to every employee at the company of your choosing, do a little research first.

If the company is big enough, even a quick Google search may be enough to reveal more about what it is like to really work there. But really, Glassdoor is one of the best resources for company reviews. Current and past employees write up their feedback, meaning the site gives you the inside scoop. Think about what your priorities are — a relaxed company culture, better than average benefits, or a place where creativity is encouraged, whatever they may be. Then start scanning the reviews for details.

Try not to narrow your focus too much when choosing which companies to research. You may find that companies you’d never considered are the ones with exactly the values and opportunities you are looking for.

photo by valerie denise via the yellow co. 

How to Connect

Now that you know where you want to go, hit the pavement. If you’re lucky, one of your chosen companies will have open positions already posted online, but if not, don’t despair. You just need to get a little creative.

It’s time to network. You’re likely more connected to your dream companies than you think. Take stock of who you know and who you’ve worked with, then see if anyone works at the companies you’re planning on targeting or, at the very least, if they someone who works there.

Don’t forget to check LinkedIn! When you look up employees who work at the company you’re researching, you can see if you have any contacts or companies in common. Once you find a link, use it to make a personal connection with the person to see if they can offer you any advice on the hiring process. They may know of jobs before they are posted or be able to tell you how to stand out in your interview. If you’re feeling unsure about how to reach out to cold contacts, check out my new job search strategy course where I share video tutorials and templates on this exact topic!

photo via the west elm blog

How to Land the Job

With all of your carefully done research and connections, you are a prime candidate to secure a job at one of your dream companies. Use your research to write a detailed, personalized cover letter that will stand out in a sea of generic applicants. Practice answering interview questions that you customize for each company and prepare a few of your own to ask them that show you are very knowledgable about the work they are doing. The more prepared you are, the more you will stand out and be able to wow your interviewer.

What companies are you dying to work for? I can help you find your target companies in my new job search strategy course.