The second step of Hannah Morgan’s six step job search strategy is Research. Check the image below for reference. We’ve gone through the Assessment stage, and we have a better grasp on who we are and what would be ideal for us. We’ve spent some introspective time and we’ve been real honest with ourselves. Now it’s time to take that information and figure out what opportunities align with what we just came up with.
Research Industries and Trends: What’s going on in the world? What industries are changing (automotive –> electric cars; energy –> sustainable; technology –> cloud solutions; commerce –> online, healthcare –> ???, etc.) and what opportunities can we identify? This would be a perfect time to do a SWOT Analysis and/or a Porter’s Five Forces Analysis (google those, I learned about them in my MBA classes).
Research Alternative Job Titles: Before my job search I had been a General Manager, but my environment changed drastically and I started looking for jobs as a Business Analyst or a Project Manager. That is what I knew. As I found those jobs on job boards, I learned about a role I hadn’t heard of before, but it was a perfect fit for me: Product Manager. This is a time to expand your vision a little and be open to other titles that you would enjoy, or excel at, or be able to grow into.
Research Target Company (Identification): Now that we’ve narrowed down the industries and positions, let’s find some companies that match those. Who is hiring, growing, who has a need, who has a great culture and can provide the lifestyle and projects and opportunities? Talk to people at those companies and get an idea of what it was like there. Think: Information Interviews. Remember, a job search is not a one-sided affair, where the company has all the power. You decide if you want to spend most of your waking hours at this company… keep your eyes wide open as you do company research.
Research Key People to Know: Now we have the companies picked out… how are you going to “network in?” This concept implies who have a target inside… we’ll usually start with a department or a title. Using LinkedIn and what we learn from our informational interviews, we should easily be able to identify key people, learn about them, and even get introductions to them. Doesn’t this feel like a focused, targeted job search, instead of the “spray and pray” method that just leads to frustration and depression?
This (and the previous) step remind me of the legend about the lumber jack (or Abe Lincoln, depending on where you got your story) being asked about cutting down trees. Something along the lines of “If I had seven hours to cut down a tree, I’d spend six hours sharpening my ax.” In Steven Covey’s 7 Habits book, he saved the “sharpen your saw” for Habit #7… but notice in practice, we’re putting it up front.
The result of this step is that we will have a focused list of companies and contacts that we’ll work on approaching, networking with, etc. When another industry or company (or person) comes along, we can quickly determine if they should be on our list and proceed appropriately, instead of being distracted by every thing that comes our way and feeling like we need to give equal attention to everything. This focus helps us know where to spend our time and effort, the conversations we should have and pursue, and and really know that we are moving in the right direction (even when we are unsure of ourselves).