Targeting Your Job Search for Success

A successful job search isn’t about finding just any job, it’s about finding the right job. Your search focus will consist of a job title or field, an industry, and a geographic area. This video discusses  how to focus your job search for success:

This video walks you through how to target your job search

The idea of pinpointing and then refining your target market of employers is an overwhelming concept for most. A bigger universe intuitively seems more likely to result in employer interest. Many job seekers think that if they send out their resume to as many employers as they can, they will receive more interest. But the opposite is true: The more you funnel the universe of employers into a laser-focused, precise, narrow segment of those who would love to hire you, the more successful you’ll be.

Identifying Your Focus

Identifying your search focus will allow you to:

  • Focus on the best possible opportunities that are a good fit for you
  • Make the most of the time you spend on your job search
  • Help you reach your goals more quickly

Your search focus will consist of a job title or field, an industry, and a geographic area. You know you have a good search focus when it positions you well for your career goals, is within a growing market with more jobs than job seekers, is found in a location and industry that fits your needs and interests, and is not so limited that you have few options. The three main areas of your focus should be the field/job title, industry, and geographic area.

You may also want to consider these additional company parameters to help refine your focus:

  • Products and/or services
  • Mission/values
  • Annual sales
  • Number of employees (i.e., company size, also consider startup vs. established)
  • Company culture
  • Company reputation

Rate Your Search Focus

Use the following benchmarks to rate your search focus. You can also use these parameters later to assess potential opportunities. Remember, no job is going to be perfect; there will always be things that are ideal and those you choose to tolerate.

Rate each on a scale of 1 to 5 with 5 meaning very true and 1 meaning not at all true.

  • Strengths: Lets you leverage your strengths
  • Advancement: Lets you advance towards your professional and personal goals
  • Values/Priorities: Aligns with your personal values and priorities
  • Interests: Aligns with your interests
  • Time and Location: Requires a time investment both on a day-to-day basis and on a long-term basis that you are comfortable with. The job, from both a practical and emotional standpoint, will leave you energy for other priorities (family, hobbies, etc.)
  • People/Environment: Will place you around the type of people you enjoy working with and in an environment where you can thrive
  • Income and Benefits: Will allow you to afford your desired lifestyle and meet your overall financial needs

Identify Your Target Companies

After identifying your search focus, select ten companies where your target position can be found. As you work on finding target companies that are a great fit for you, try to find at least 10 to pursue, prioritizing your top picks. This list will constantly evolve, shrinking, and growing throughout your search as opportunities present themselves and others fall away. Start your company list with any organizations that come to mind; from there, think about those organizations’ competitors, affiliates, vendors, and clients.

Don’t have any target companies in mind? Try these resources:

  • Glassdoor: Search by company type and location
  • LinkedIn: Search for companies or professionals with similar job titles to see where they work
  • CNN: List of Fortune 500 organizations
  • Manta: Search for companies by type and geographic area
  • Forbes Magazine: Various company lists
  • MelissaData: Non-profit Organizations by zip code
  • Business Week: Companies List of public and private companies
  • Zoominfo: Database of company information, offers a free trial

With a bit of work upfront to define your job search focus, your job search will be much more targeted and successful.

About Dr. Sheila Boysen

Sheila M. Boysen, Ph.D., PHR, BCC, MCC is Master of Organizational Leadership Program Director and ICF ACTP Director at Lewis University

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