Focus on Your Target Companies

According to a survey just published by ExecuNet, 2009 Executive Job Market Intelligence Report, 73% of executives find career options from networking. This is up 3% from 2008. What do you think the percentage would be if you targeted a specific company, did your research, and found contacts at the company from your network? (See more information in the chart below.)Here’s something to keep in mind, 73% find career options from networking, while only 3% of executives find career options by researching target companies – from cold calling. How much do you think this probability improves if you find target companies, find a way to stand out from the crowd, AND use your network to find executives at that target company? It’s time to give it a try. What do you have to lose?

Following are some simple steps to help you reach out and focus on your target companies:

  1. Develop a target list. We’ve discussed this a lot but this is really important. Define the criteria for your target list. For example, my criteria is Consumer Goods industry (or Education), in Los Angeles or Orange County, greater than or equal to about $50 million in revenue. Then research and find the names and locations of your target companies. Use the database at the library, job postings, ask friends and ask your network.
  2. Start with 2-5 companies in your target list. Research these companies by looking at their website to understand their mission and values, Hoovers or yahoo finance or some other library database (like Mergent) to look up financials (if public company), read the most recent annual 10-K report (if public company) to understand their strategy and vision, check their website for PR articles and look up articles on Proquest or some other database at the library. This should give you a good understanding of the companies strengths and weaknesses so you can ask intelligent questions when you speak with an officer of the company. Set-up Google alerts on these companies so you can read any breaking news. Search them on Twitter and other social media sites to understand their social media presence.
  3. Find contacts at the company. Use LinkedIn and Face book to find past and present employees. Ask your network for contacts at these companies.
  4. Reach out. Call for an information interview. The purpose of information interviewing is to discover jobs that are not publicly posted. Tell them you would like to come in and talk with them because you are researching a new industry or tell them you are conducting research on the industry to understand current challenges and opportunities. Then be prepared with a minimum of 10 questions, starting with general questions like, “how did you get into the industry” to more specific questions that indicate you did your homework. Some examples are: What are your responsibilities? How did you develop your career? How is your sales force organized? How is your marketing department structured? In what areas do you see expansion? What has made them successful? What is happening in the industry? What are their 3 key challenges in the industry? What makes a company successful in this industry today? What changes do you foresee in this industry? What trends do you see emerging? Do you think this field is becoming more specialized? How? During the discussion, note details of the information you found so they can see you did your homework.
  5. Follow-up. Tell them you enjoyed the meeting and appreciate the time they spent with you. Ask them if you can keep in touch with them for any follow-up questions. Tell them you are writing a special report about the industry problems and ask them if they would like a copy of the report when it’s completed. Ask them if you could send them a copy of your resume for their review and suggestions. Send a follow-up thank you note. Now that you’ve made the contact, keep the contact.

Start targeting your companies so you can determine if you are a good fit for each other. This interview is as much about getting information and making an impression as it is about evaluating the company match for you. This strategy will also help you improve your communication and get more comfortable talking about your industry and problems in a low stress situation – since you are not interviewing for a specific job. In addition, you are developing your list of contacts and your self-confidence!

Try this positive and pro-active approach to your job search. Happy hunting!

Guest Expert:

Julie Abraham – Jules’ Gems… marketing tips from a proven leader passionate about helping others

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