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The Professional’s Job Search Creed – 5 of 10

November 27th, 2006

This is part of a series where I’ll introduce 10 points of a creed, and comment on them. The series is summarized as we go (see bottom of post) and you can link back to the commentary on any of the 10 in that summary.

Here’s number five – common sense but one of the hardest things to do, in my opinion (I’ll comment why down below):

5. I will identify and understand the needs of my target market – looking for industry gaps, problems and trends – and will target my best prospects within that market. I will do the same for each target company I am pursuing.

Why do I think this is one of the hardest things to do in a job search? Probably because I only have x hours a day to dedicate to a job search (mine early on was 60 hours a week – lots of time on job boards :() – and I’m continually reminded that it is “a numbers game.” So I need to make sure that I keep pounding the numbers (the “work hard” strategy, as opposed to the “work smart” strategy). But I also realize that I need to study and understand the industry, and further, the needs of the industry. And I can spend a lot of time doing that :) Its much easier to study and learn about an industry that I’m interested in than it is to, well, do the things that I need to do in order to find that next job!

So I submit that the reason this may be the hardest thing to do is because it can get out of hand, and take away from other important activities that I should be doing.

Now, having said that, I think that this is an excellent time to go back and read some of those magazines and articles, conference speeches, white papers, etc. Shoot, go read stuff from other industries and see what can transfer back to “your” industry! This is a great time to “sharpen the saw.” I would suggest that the time that you used to spend in a commute should be spent to sharpen your saw. Even further, if possible, this might be a great time to publish a paper (which you can distribute to your old contacts, magazine editors or through an article distribution service) – this will help with your personal brand and allow you to keep your mind within your expertise.

How about some “out of the box” ways to identify and understand the needs of your target market or company that you are targeting? Sure, read stuff, go online, etc. But invite people to lunches or breakfasts and pick their brains. I just had a 2 hour breakfast this morning with Devon Thorpe, who’s blog I’ve been following, and found it to be a rich discussion on various things – and I came back refreshed, encouraged and more knowledgeable about a great deal of things that I’ve been needing to catch up on. Not only did I learn about a variety of things, I was able to figure out where Devon stands on these things. To know what opinions and perceptions of the experts are, and perhaps contrast them to what I read, is super-valuable.

So, if you are targeting a specific industry or company the best way to get real juicy information is to get familiar with what you can read but then go ask some insiders and experts. One funny side-benefit that I didn’t expect from this morning was that Devon mentioned some folks that I now want to get to know… further building my network!

One final note on the “research” thing. When I was getting my MBA I remember someone summing up the difference between an undergraduate student vs. a graduate student. The undergrad reads the book and marvels in the wisdom and knowledge (in other words, they accept what is written), where the graduate student challenges most of what is written! Make sure that, as you learn about things, you drill deeper and ask “why,” which should help you think about some alternative solutions that may not be so apparent to those that are deep into the problem.

Ok – so to wrap up this point – think of how knowledgeable and current you can be in an interview situation (formal or informal) having sharpened your saw (or axe, as Abe Lincoln said) in this way, knowing not just what everyone else knows but what the experts think. Very powerful stuff.


Running List:

  1. I will get a job coach (not my spouse) to hold me accountable for my job search efforts. I will encourange him or her to be honest and indicate that feedback is the greatest gift that I could receive. I will ask for at least weekly contact. (read the post here)
  2. I will network for contacts, opportunities and more market knowledge; making at least 10 networking contacts each day and working towards at least 10 interviews each week; with at least five of those with decision makers. (read the post here)
  3. I will attend the Professional Career Workshop and attend at least one Professional Networking Group each week. (read the post here)
  4. I will define and continually refine my professional brand and unique value-added proposition. (read the post here)
  5. I will identify and understand the needs of my target market – looking for industry gaps, problems and trends – and will target my best prospects within that market. I will do the same for each target company I am pursuing.
  6. (haven’t done yet)
  7. (haven’t done yet)
  8. (haven’t done yet)
  9. (haven’t done yet)
  10. (haven’t done yet)

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One response to “The Professional’s Job Search Creed – 5 of 10”

  1. Jason, great series. I think informational interviews with experts from your target market are a great way to gather intel that you can use to help you be more effective in marketing yourself. Always remember, companies hire you because you can make them money. Don’t be afraid to show them that you can do that during one of those ‘informational’ interviews. Even if you give something away for free… like a great idea.

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