Job Search: Target Organisations, Not Just Vacancies

One of the simplest things many people overlook about career coaching and clarifying what they want to do with their career is; that all it’s really about is preference. Knowing your individual preferences. Each and everyone of us has very specific likes and dislikes in everything and finding where you’ll be most satisfied, is as simple as breaking down what your preferences are.

Just stand in a Starbucks, Costa or Pret a Manger queue, and you’ll notice, everyone’s pretty specific about their preferences of coffee, tea, lunch, juices and exactly the same about every other aspect of their lives. We just don’t always realise and in relation to jobs, career and work, we’re more often socially conditioned to believe work ‘should’ be a certain way and to just shut up and accept it.

Some people prefer open plan offices to segregated offices, others prefer buzzy environments to still ones, many like seeing tangible results of their work rather than working abstractly, want to be surrounded by creative types as opposed to academic types or in large, stable institutions as opposed to new, unstructured start-ups. One of the biggest mistakes people make when looking for a new job, a new career or whatever, is focusing on what’s advertised, what the vacancies are and being passively ‘led’ as opposed to proactively leading their own way. I always recommend to our clients to do both – cover as many bases as you can, ultimately, success is a number’s game, so just keep going until you hit the right door, inevitably one will open.

Common Mistake – Most people focus on searching for advertised roles only. The research shows that working in the kind of organisation that aligns with your values, is key to job satisfaction. It’s why all of our clients start off with clarifying what their top core values are, these are the guiding principles for everything in our lives. Organisational culture, history, mission, community, and impact are often critical to our happiness. Additionally, getting a clear vision of the organisations where you will thrive makes it easier to tailor your job search and networking efforts, and helps in making a good decision regarding your acceptance of a job offer. The key is to have a clear brief of what types of organisations you want to work for and understand why and proactively target those. Success is all about suitability. Instructions: Understand what suits you, go towards that = success.

1. Your Top 5
I always ask our clients to start with a top 5 dream company list. Just simple, easy to start with, a list of the top 5 dream companies you would love to work for. It doesn’t even need to be companies you can work for, geographically, they may be located elsewhere. Initially, the first step is where would you like to work.

2. Spot the Trends
Once you have your top 5, for some it’s top 5 entrepreneurs, or all start-ups, for one client I worked with, it was all free-lance, portfolio careerists. Just find what excites and inspires you most, if there’s a clear trend, then all the better, if it’s a real mix, doesn’t matter.

Ask Questions like:

  • What do they make / provide / do? Services, products, software? Why do you find the interesting / exciting / inspiring?
  • Who are their key leaders?
  • What type of culture do they promote?
  • How do they make the world better? – what types of charities do they champion?
  • What types of industries are they in?
  • What sizes are they?
  • What type of people work there?
  • What are their company values and mission?
  • Why would you love to work there? Make sure to have 3 key reasons for each one.

To really thoroughly do your research, if the companies are large or well-known enough, use website like GlassDoor to learn what their existing or previous employees or interviewees have to say about working / interviewing for them. FREE TOOL – Use the Taregted Employers spreadsheet to organise and keep track of your research.

3. Answer your own Organisation Brief
Once you go through the initial list of 5 and find the commonalities – detailed in the spreadsheet – then pick out your 10 -15 key points, sort of like a checklist – and find other companies who match this brief. If you even start with the competitors of your top 5 or find which companies they have partnerships with and go from there. Use LinkedIN of course to find out more.

4. Build Relationships online or off.
Once you have a well-developed Targeted Employer List, begin building relationships with people who work there, stay on top of the organization’s work, and regularly search for job opportunities (both online and via your networks). If you don’t know anyone there, mine through your LinkedIN, Facebook, Twitter and any other social media accounts to see if you have links and find an in-route.

If you don’t, find events they run or attend and sign-up, get creative and find reasons to contact them, even just directly by asking if they are recruiting if they’re quite small. Some of our clients have simply called the companies on a smaller scale directly and other’s have attended industry and organisation events and targeted their key people of interest. For other’s they set up blogs and used an ‘interview’ as a way to reach out and make contacts and of course, informational interviews are another great way we suggest going.

If you want more specific advice on your career change or finding a new career opportunity, get in contact with one of our career coaches today.