The Importance of Targets in Your Job Search

I see a lot of new job-hunters who are unfocused about their job targets. They feel that their background allows them to do many things (e.g. I can be a project manager, marketing director, or a corporate trainer). So their whole approach to the search is to position themselves as generally as possible, in the hope that others (recruiters, network contacts, etc.) will decide for them.

This approach doesn’t work for a couple of reasons. First off, you need to make it as easy as possible for people to help you, and that means pitching yourself appropriately for a specific position. Don’t ask them to do the work to translate your varied background into specific targets– do this for them! Second, targeting is all about the benefits that accrue through focus vs. a less successful “scattershot” approach. You increase efficiency and momentum by focusing on a target, because you get to know the players and the issues specific to that target, you learn to speak the “language”, and you essentially become an “insider”. People want to hire insiders!

So what is a target? At the Five O’Clock Club we consider a target to be a combination of three items– 1) Job description/title, 2) Industry or company type, and 3) Geography. By varying any one of these, you change the target. Why? Because changing any one of these parameters will require different knowledge, conversations and positioning. For example, systems development in the Health Care industry vs. the Banking industry means different positioning (and networking), particularly because the business end-users could have very different needs. You want to ensure that your pitch, cover letters, and resume speak the language of the industry you are approaching.

Make sure you are specific with your target description, so that you create the most effective positioning in your resume, cover letters, and pitch. For example “finance, regional banks, NYC metro-area” is not specific enough, but “CFO, regional banks, NYC metro-area” is. Have 3 to 5 targets that you engage one at a time in priority order.

As you build momentum in one target you start to focus on the next. This way, if a target doesn’t work out, your job search is still moving forward because you’ve already started on the next target. If you need help researching targets, check out the industry/company research links on my website, as well as the job descriptions listed in job boards. And then consider setting up informational meetings with people in the targets you are pursuing to further validate the target.