Research Your Target Companies
In the past, you might have thought of your “job search” as vying for the attention of recruiters or applying to open positions that you happened to be qualified for. While those approaches can find you a job sooner or later, the truth is that it’s really the least effective way to make a career change.
There are many ways to get your foot in the door of a company, and yet we’re often taught to apply, wait, and hope for the best. Today, I’m going to ask you to think backwards. What if you could break the ice with companies that interest you directly—regardless of whether or not they’ve posted job ads?
Establishing direct connections gives you the benefit of learning about openings before they reach the public, allowing you to circumnavigate a pool of hundreds of competitors and get decision-makers to focus on you alone. Better yet, you can spark connections that lead you to roles that haven’t even been created yet. But in order to get to that point, you have to thoroughly understand a company.
Pick out a set of companies that align with the elements identified during your goal-setting exercise. Parse your list into big fish (dream companies) and small fish (still great, but lower-hanging fruit), limiting yourself to around 10 companies total to avoid overwhelm. From there, learn everything you can about each company’s inner workings. Dive into the guts!
Explore each organization’s strong suits. What makes it special compared to competitors? Who are their competitors (when you’re viewing the company’s profile on LinkedIn, the “Other Companies People Viewed” section should give you a few clues)? Follow each company’s news—if they’re reporting on a change publicly, it’s something you ought to know! Get a sense of the financial health and needs of your target companies, as well as the aches and pains of their customers. Finally, check out employee reviews and salary reports on sites like Glassdoor.com and PayScale.com.
Jot down questions about any red flags or points of interest you spot during your review; these will be valuable conversation fodder as you network with figures from these companies.
And perhaps more importantly, use this information to whittle down your list. Remove employers that no longer seem like a prime fit and bump those that aren’t as dreamy as you originally thought to your small fish list, because let’s face it: another “grin and bear it” role isn’t going to cut it here. With a little digging and nosiness, you can start moving toward opportunities with teams that are the perfect match for you.
Tomorrow, we’ll talk about how to foolproof your personal brand.
See you then!
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