Many jobseekers aspire to get well-paid work doing what they love. In part 1 of this series, I talked about how any interest is a viable job target, regardless of how non-career related it may seem. Step 1 of translating your interests into job search targets is to believe your interests matter. In part 2, I advised that you take the job market’s point of view and learn how business gets done. Step 2 is to know what prospective employers truly need so you know what real opportunities for anybody, including you. Finally, in part 3 of this series, I talk about the overlap between step 1 and step 2 and the one ingredient that jobseekers must do to ensure all this preparation yields actual results.
Step 1 is about you and your interests. Step 2 is about the employers and their needs. Step 3 is about matching your interests to their needs, and the key ingredient is specificity. Most jobseekers are not specific enough: Oh, I’d love to turn my passion for Barbie into a job (step 1 complete). I know Mattel makes Barbie and is a big company with needs (step 2 complete). I’m gong to post my resume on Mattel’s website…This isn’t specific enough. What is this person going to do there?
- You need to identify a specific functional area (e.g., marketing, sales, production)
- Then you need the specific department name and structure (does marketing work on specific lines like Barbie, or is it dolls in general or is toys for girls or toys for a certain age)
- Then you need names of people working in that department so you know their backgrounds, what they do, and who you need to network with
- Having a genuine interest and understanding their business will enable you to position yourself as a great hire;
- Still you need to repeat this exercise for at least 10 more companies because one company is not a broad enough search. They may have no openings, or you may not be able to speak to anyone in a timely way. Regardless, you need more than one lead. In the case of our Barbie lover, she needs to think about how else she can satisfy her interest in Barbie outside of the one company who happens to make Barbie (this is why I gave the examples of eBay, fashion companies and women’s leadership non-profits in the first part of the series)
Many jobseekers will not get specific about where they will work, what exactly they will do, and who runs the area (and therefore makes the hiring decisions around the job they want to do). Having defined an interest, the typical jobseeker then looks at job boards for openings, hoping that their passion is somehow advertised that particular moment they are looking. This is too reactive. Get specific company names. Get specific departments. Find the people working there.
Most jobs are not posted – this is what is called the “hidden job market.” By the time employers need to hire, they are too busy to search broadly. They may want someone exactly like you but if someone in their network is close enough, they will hire that other person who happens to be front of mind. So get front of mind with the specific employers in the specific departments that have the specific jobs you care about. You now know what you want. You know how business works. Get specific and go match your wants to business needs.