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Job Search Plan

A well-crafted job search plan is key to ensuring that you focus on priority actions and avoid wasting time and energy on unproductive activities. As with any project, a good plan helps you organize and prioritize your work and keeps your productivity high.

Your plan defines where you want to go and how you plan to get there. It also helps you target the types of organizations you plan to pursue. So, take your time and give careful consideration to all the options.

There are 5 parts to creating a job search plan.

1. Your Professional objective with preferred function

What’s your objective?

To get your job search plan off to a good start, begin by asking a simple question: What is my objective?

Your professional objective is a concise phrase or sentence that describes the kind of work you are seeking. It should reflect your skills, interests, experience and expertise in a way that is clearly understood by people inside and outside of your profession.

2. Target roles

After your professional objective, you will want to list your target roles – the role or areas of work that fit your experience and interest. These are the roles you’re targeting based on your skills, expertise, and salary requirements.

Here are some examples:

    • Executive Director
    • Engineering project manager
    • Marketing Manager

Your branding or positioning statement

Your branding statement is used in conversations throughout your search. You’ll use it in networking meetings, emails, phone calls, and of course, on interviews. It is the response to: “Tell me about yourself.”

3. Your branding statement contains these four basic elements:

    1. Profession: State your professional identity in the present tense. “I am a marketing executive.”
    2. Expertise: State the competencies and skills that qualify you for that kind of work.
    3. Types of organizations: Summarize the environments or organizations in which you have worked, such as Fortune 100 company, a small consulting firm, not-for-profit organization.  You might also mention other types of activities, such as teaching, participation on boards, or other leadership roles.
    4. Unique strengths: Articulate the qualities that help you stand out from others in your fields, such as exceptional problem-solving skills, unique technical knowledge, or specialties.

An example of a good branding statement is:

I’m an IT Systems Technician best known for my deep product knowledge and understanding of online technology, so I’m highly responsive to consumer inquiries. I’m in the lucky position of loving my work so I’ve held top quality scores throughout my career.

Check out more tips for brand-building here:

Now you can craft a brief statement that conveys your professional objective, key qualifications, and uniqueness for use in conversations. Refine it as you go. This is a living, breathing process. Practice out loud so that it’s an easy answer anytime you’re asked.

4. Target market

Your target market defines the sector, industry, and types of organizations you plan to pursue. Your criteria for defining your target market needs to include the following four elements:

Geographic location: The first criterion in identifying your target market is geographic location. Will you pursue all relevant companies in the country of your choice? Or are you limiting yourself to within a commuting distance of your current residence? Location is determined by personal preferences and by market demand. Define your geographic preference in a way that it can be drawn on a map, like a sales territory.

Industry or type of organization: The second criterion is the industry or type of organization. This is usually a combination of personal preference and previous experience.  It’s important to assess how much your past experience determines whether you’ll be seen as a strong candidate. The rule of thumb is to match 75% of the job requirements and use your track record and accomplishments to make up for the specific experience you may lack.

Size of organization: The size of an organization is usually defined either in terms of annual revenue or number of employees. Size is a matter of personal preference, and it can be a critical factor. Below a certain size, a company may not have the position you are seeking. For example, a company with only 200 employees is not likely to hire an HR director for six figures.

Organizational culture: Organizational culture is sometimes a factor in determining a target market. Generally, however, it is not used to determine the initial list, but to help prioritize the target companies once you get a better sense of what their different cultures look like.

How large should your target market be?

The size of your target market will vary with the above criteria. To check on the size, scope, and likelihood of landing in your target market, consider these elements:

The geographic location of the organization: Stated precisely enough that you could draw it on a map, like a sales territory.

Industry or type of organization: Identified by the Standard Industrial Classification (SIC) or North American Industry Classification System (NAICS) codes.

Size of organization: Stated in annual revenue, number of employees or other measures appropriate to your industry or profession.

Organizational culture: Stated concretely enough to research targets (e.g. an organization with more than 20% women at all levels of an organization that routinely uses cross-functional teams).

5. Target company list

What are your top 20-50 target organizations?

Don’t just guess – identify your target organizations using your criteria. Research and stay informed about them. Read, ask questions, and listen. Use the research to build your initial list of 20-50 organizations. Then refine your target list and interview for information.

When is your target market large enough? This is the critical question because when a target market is too small, it can make your search longer. Once you have estimated the number of openings that might be available, the questions are: How many openings a month are enough? When is the target market large enough? When does it need to be expanded?

These are questions without simple answers because there are many considerations that must be factored into the equation.

If the number of openings per month is:

    • 10 or less: Seriously consider expanding your target market.
    • 10 to 50: Your target market is probably large enough.
    • Over 50: You have defined a target market that is large enough and you may need to select a smaller segment for a starting point.

Consider, though, that you should do your best to compare the volume of these openings with the number of applicants per opening or per month.

Once you’ve completed your job search plan, you’re ready to implement it, and Career Storybook is here to help!

Next Steps:

Once you have completed this lesson, you are ready to go. Do it on your own if you like, but we think you’ll go farther with better outcomes if you work with one of our Professional Coaches in our success groups and group courses.

If you’re struggling emotionally or with motivation, explore our Keystones on-demand course for some basic self-care.

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