Targeting Life Sciences Employers Based on Their Needs

A successful targeted job search is not a scattershot approach like my spammer’s. It is narrowly focused on a finite list of employers that you’ve generated and qualified.

The other day, I received an email that began: “Dear Sir/Ma’am, Is your new product out? If yes, then read on.” That email is the opposite of target marketing. The sender had not researched my name or even my gender. The sender had no idea if I even sell any products (I don’t). The sender probably blasted out the same email to thousands, maybe even millions, in hopes that a few strands of spaghetti might stick to the wall.

A successful targeted job search is not a scattershot approach like my spammer’s. It is narrowly focused on a finite list of employers that you’ve generated and qualified. See our article Benefits of a Targeted Job Search and How to Get Started for more about constructing your list. Now, it’s time to approach employers and probe their needs (so you can convince them you are the person to address those needs). You will be well prepared with information to sell yourself to employers before going on job interviews.

Sleuthing Out Names

To approach employers, you need the names of hiring managers. To be truly effective in your targeted search, you can’t approach employers by titles; instead, target specifically named individuals on your employer list. It’s not easy to identify the names of hiring managers. They are rarely revealed in job postings because employers are typically inundated with hundreds – even thousands – of resumes for a single opening. Hiring managers don’t want to also be bombarded with time-consuming phone calls from job-seekers. Still, most – not all – hiring managers respond well to contacts from qualified, resourceful job-seekers who show their enthusiasm for joining the manager’s organization.

How does the job-seeker find out who the hiring manager is? It’s challenging but sometimes just takes some plucky and persistent detective work. You can try simply calling the company and asking for the name of the hiring manager you want to target. Ask members of your network who work in that organization for names. You may be able to find the name on the company web site or through social media.

Probing and Analyzing Employer Needs

To make the strongest case for why an employer should hire you, learn as much as possible about the employer’s needs so you can present yourself as the candidate who can meet those needs. One of the best ways to discover needs before you ever go on a job interview is through informational interviewing.

Every need discovered is an opportunity. During your informational interviewing, be alert to company weaknesses, problems you could solve, gaps you could fill, situations you could improve. In seeking members of their workforce, after all, employers look for those who can fulfill their needs. Informational interviewing is a priceless technique because you not only describe yourself as the perfect person to meet the need, but you make yourself a shining star in the employer’s eyes for showing concern for the firm’s well-being. You put yourself on the team. Learn more about informational interviews.

You can then use your new-found knowledge of the employer’s needs to pave the way to an actual job interview. Here is a cover letter sample that shows how to use the needs-fulfillment approach of conducting employer research using informational interviews:

Sample Informational Interviewing Needs-Fulfillment Letter

Dear Mr. Zwanger: I enjoyed chatting with you last week during our informational interview. I recall our discussion about the difficulties you’ve been having in meeting your production schedules. I’ve given considerable thought to your dilemma and have come up with some ideas. I wondered if we might be able to get together again so I can share my thoughts with you.

As you know, I am foreman at Supplee and Co. I’ve developed a highly effective scheduling system; we have not missed a deadline in seven years. I’d really like to bring the scheduling success I’ve developed there to Eastwood.

I’ll give you a call next week to see if we can arrange a time to continue our conversation.


Sid Ross

Informational interviews are the best way to learn about employer needs, but they’re not the only way. Here are others:

  • Typically, in a targeted search, you are not responding to job postings, but you can still scrutinize the organization’s job postings for clues to employer needs.
  • Get a handle on the competitive nature of the industry (or industries) that your list of companies operate within. You might be able to spot trends that are either opportunities or threats for your prospective employers.
  • Scan news items online and in print about the companies on your list, especially the larger organizations.
  • Ask members of your network, especially organizational insiders who work for your target employers, what problems, challenges, and needs they observe. Ask them what kinds of positions the employer could fill or create to address its challenges.

The proven strategy of target marketing enables the marketer – in this case, the job-seeker – to reach the employers whose needs are most likely to be filled by the entity being marketed. 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 waiting for hiring managers to call and uploading resumes to employers who might be interested.