2013 is behind us and 2014 is ahead, with all the optimism that a new year brings. Even if last year didn’t go as planned, you have a choice about your approach to this year. Here is a concrete suggestion with an action plan to reinvigorate your search.
Dream Big. In the next week (or another reasonable timeline so this doesn’t lapse into next month), identify five companies for which you’d like to work. Be selective and don’t just focus on the name. In this recession, some of the most prestigious companies have treated employees like chattel and don’t deserve to be on your list. Assess companies based on growth opportunity, external reputation, internal reputation if you know current employees, work/life balance, industry outlook and personal fit. You will get the most traction with companies in your area as they won’t be concerned that you are seeking a relocation package.
– Identify 5 target companies. How? A few ways are to research newspaper articles, news reports, look at which companies are hiring and speak with friends. Review interests in your personal life that could cross over to an ideal fit with a company. For example, if you have an interest in foreign culture and travel, identify companies where business travel is an option.
– Once you have identified the 5 target companies, figure out who works there in two divisions: Human Resources and the division for which you are qualified to work. You can do this with a little light investigation, including Linkedin, calling the company directly and news sources such as articles or press releases. The key is to identify an employee who is a step or two above you in your anticipated division and a senior Human Resources manager. Identifying an employee at your level or below will not get you very far as they do not have hiring authority and may view you as a threat.
– Contact them. Here’s where you may have to get out of your comfort zone. Start the process with an introduction email. Tailor it to the person with as much information as you have learned about the company and them individually. Obviously, do not come across as a stalker, but in a way that creates a relationship. For example, highlight similarities in career tracks, college or affiliations. Identify the purpose of this correspondence, attach your resume, and conclude with the Action Step that you will follow up in 1 week. Giving a timeframe and following through on that will encourage them to take you seriously.
– Follow up. The squeaky wheel gets the oil. Next step, call them to have a conversation based on your introductory email. It’s not easy to pick up the phone but it is extremely effective. Call to follow up within one week and then follow up occasionally. Find reasons to reach out – for example, if the company is in the news or there is an interesting article on the industry. At the end of the day, you are building a relationship that you can hopefully leverage to get a fulfilling job.
Best wishes in 2014.