Benefits of a Targeted Job Search and How to Get Started

job search

Telling a job seeker to pinpoint and then refine his or her target market of employers is a scary prospect for most. A bigger universe intuitively seems more likely to result in employer interest. “If I send out my resume to as many employers as I can,” the mentality goes, “surely some of them will be interested in me.” But the opposite is true: The more you funnel the universe of employers into a laser-focused, precise, narrow segment of those who would love to hire you, the more successful you’ll be.

Years ago, marketers cast a wide net to attract customers. Newspaper and broadcast advertising went out to virtually everyone. More recently, though, marketers began to understand that virtually no products are universally appealing to all consumers. Similarly, no universal job seeker appeals to all employers. Neither jobs nor employers are one-size-fits-all. Savvy job seekers survey the universe of employers to determine how to break the market down into a more manageable subset of employers that will be keenly attracted to what the job seeker has to offer.

The proven strategy of target marketing enables the marketer or job seeker to reach the employers whose needs are most likely to be filled by the entity being marketed. That’s a big reason to use target marketing in the job search – but just a few of the other reasons include:

  • It’s more efficient. Yes, target marketing requires a big investment in front-end research. But that investment pays off when the job seeker is productively going on interviews instead of sitting on his or her posterior by the computer uploading resumes to employers who might be interested and waiting for hiring managers to call.
  • It targets the portion of the job market most likely to hire. Huge number of jobs aren’t advertised. Employers hold back on publicizing vacancies for all kinds of reasons, but if you can get in on the pipeline of an unpublicized opening, you’ll have a huge advantage over the vast hordes responding to job postings and want ads.
  • Through target marketing, you’ll be a better fit and happier with the employer at which you land than if you took your chances with answering ads. Since you’ve carefully vetted each employer in your target market, you know you’re a good match and you fit the organizational culture. 

To mount a targeted job search, start with a list of about 40 targeted employers. In this initial step of generating leads, it’s best to start with a bigger list that you will optimize and qualify. You’ll narrow this list down later.

Initial criteria to look at are:

  • A specific geographic area (city, county, state, etc.). In the life-science field, be sure to consider Hotbeds.
  • Specific industry sector of life sciences.
  • Job function/title.

You may be open to more than one locale, industry, and job function, but start with your top preference in each category.

Many job seekers already have a pretty good idea of the employers they’d like to work for, so this first list-development step is pretty easy. If you’re new to the job market, though, or are a career-changer new to your prospective career field, list-making may be a bit more challenging. If you have no idea of what companies might be best for you, consider starting with media-generated lists of “bests” ... best companies for women, best private companies, best employee-owned companies, and more.

Here are some additional methods for scoping out employers that meet your criteria:

  • Ask Your Network. Ask people in your network for suggestions on good places to work.
  • Attend Job/Career Fairs: Ask questions to learn more about employers at the event. Typically, you can pick up company literature from the employers’ tables.
  • Check Out Online Job Sites/Job Boards like BioSpace. You’re not applying for jobs at this stage (unless you see an opportunity you can’t pass up), but you can often get a good feel the types of positions an employer offers by scanning job boards.
  • Ask Recruiters/Headhunters. Ask these practitioners the same kinds of questions you would ask members of your network – suggestions on good places to work.
  • Keep Your Eye on the News: Watch for companies that may be expanding, undergoing a merger or acquisition, relocating, changing leadership at the top, or experiencing dramatic stock-price fluctuations. Be on the lookout, too, for public news reports about problems and challenges an employer may be facing – perhaps problems you can solve.

Refining the List by Researching Employers

The concept of employer research straddles both the list-development and list-refinement steps in job-search target marketing and is one of the most important skills a job seeker can learn during a job-search. You’ll mostly employ hard-core research during the list-optimization and refinement phase. Begin to narrow down your list based on what your research tells you about such factors as organizational culture (do you fit the culture?), needs and challenges (do you have the qualifications to fill the needs, meet the challenges?), likelihood to hire employees with the features and benefits you offer, compensation package likely to be offered. Learn more about how to research employers [LINK].  

See a case study of how a targeted job search unfolds from career expert Marc Miller, who offers additional targeted-search resources on his site.

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