Even if your resume, pitch, and emails are all stellar, at the end of the day your job search is still a numbers game. To improve your odds of landing a position quickly, you’ve got to actively go for a large number of potential positions.
That is, don’t just passively wait for the search firm to call or the ad to show up, since you’ll get a low return on your time investment. Instead, take the active approach. Start by creating a plan that casts a wide enough net to include enough suitable positions (open or currently filled). Your search must encompass enough “positions that exist” (even if filled now) so you know there’s enough potential to land a job quickly. Then you want to implement the plan via networking and contacting “strangers” directly in these organizations. Maybe you’ve heard of the “hidden job market.” Well, this active approach gives you access.
What’s in your “job search marketing plan”
Your plan should include:
- Your prioritized list of two to five job targets
- Your “positioning,” i.e. a statement about how you can help your employers and what differentiates you
- A prioritized list of organizations where you want to work, for each job target
- An estimate of the number of potential positions (open or filled) at each organization
- The people you know (if any) at each organization
- How you are going to reach out, e.g. % directly contacting strangers, % networking, % mass email.
Here’s an example that shows the importance of a plan that targets enough potential positions. A client came to me for help after a year of job-search frustration. His job target was “head of marketing” at a hedge fund specializing in alternative investments. His theories about why he wasn’t getting interviews included 1) “I’m too old” and 2) “there are no jobs.”
A quick conversation and analysis, however, revealed a different issue. In his job search he was targeting a niche industry, in a narrow geographic area— in which there were only 13 companies. Each company had only one position that would be suitable for him; all 13 positions were currently filled. Upon doing this analysis, it suddenly became clear to him why things were taking so long. First he would have to wait for one of those 13 positions to become vacant, and then he would have to compete with hundreds (or more) of other applicants!
To move beyond targeting just 13 positions, he created a plan that 1) expanded his search geographically to include more companies, and 2) added sectors beyond hedge funds that would be looking for a senior marketing executive. In the end, his new plan identified roughly 200 potential positions (a rule of thumb that us Five O’Clock Club coaches use that helps ensure you’ll get interviews quickly), up from the original 13, across all his job targets. He quickly started reaching out (directly and through networking) to his new target organizations, landing meetings, interviews, and ultimately job offers.
By the way, don’t worry about precisely identifying the exact number of positions available at a given company—this is just a back-of-the-envelop calculation. “roughly 10,” “roughly 50” etc. will do fine. The idea here is to create awareness of the potential in your job search. This way you won’t accidentally kid yourself into thinking you’ll have a quick search, when the lack of potential positions means you’re in for a long haul.
To learn more about how to implement your marketing plan with an interview-getting resume and LinkedIn profile, check out my webinar Your Resume vs. Your LinkedIn Profile.