September 3, 2010
Your step-by-step guide to getting your next job
In my recent post about how to get a job in today's market, I promised I would teach you how to create a one-page marketing plan to help you stay focused, goal oriented and organized in your job search.
With today's information overload, it's too easy to get distracted and work on lots of different opportunities, yet make very little, or no progress in accomplishing your goal. If you're currently in transition in your career, your primary goal might be to get employed quickly at a company that's aligned with your values and interests. A good marketing plan can help you get there.
Our ProLango marketing director Jason Flores has put together a document that we've been using successfully with our clients in career transition. It consists of six sections: Career Search Goal, Target Companies, Approach Strategy, Marketing Materials Needed, Market Research Required and Additional Training Needed. Let's dissect each element in detail:
Career Search Goal: A successful marketing plan starts with a goal. You need to know where you're going before you can get there. A good goal is S.M.A.R.T (Specific, Measurable, Action-Oriented, Realistic and Timely). From a psychological perspective, it's also helpful to state your goal in the present tense because it makes it more believable to the brain. An example would be, "It's October 15 and I'm now working as Program Manager at Microsoft making $100,000 a year." To make sure you succeed, set a goal that's enticing and something you really want. Being laid off can be a great opportunity to reflect back and think hard about what you want your future to look like.
Target Companies: Once you have your goal set, create a list of 10 to 25 companies that fit the description of what you're looking for. Many tools are available to help you research and create this list. Some include, but are not limited to, articles and blog posts you'll find here in the NWjobs.com Career Center, the Puget Sound Business Journal Book of Lists found at your local library, Hoover's Online, LinkedIn and Glassdoor.com. You can also go to industry events and schedule informational interviews to find out which companies interest you.
Approach Strategy: In this section of your marketing plan, you have to decide how you will reach out to the companies you've targeted. Is it through job search sites, introductions through your current contacts, meeting decision makers at events or cold calls? Try out different techniques and find out which ones work best for you.
Marketing Materials Needed: Prior to approaching these companies, you'll need to be prepared. Do you have a professional resume? Can you give a positive answer to the question, "Why did you leave your last position?" (also known as your exit statement)? What is your positioning statement (how you want the market to perceive you)? Are your social media profiles updated, clean and professional? If going to events, do you have a professional business card? Jot these down on your marketing plan.
Market Research Required: Everyone has different needs when it comes to research, but I'll give you some examples:
• Salary information: You probably want to know in advance what the prospective companies pay for your type of role. This information is helpful to decide whether the companies meet your criteria and the information will come in handy during a salary negotiation process.
• Top people in your network: The best way around town is through introductions. You've worked hard to build your network over time. Now it's time to think about which people in your network can help you make the right introductions.
• Decision makers: Do you know who the hiring managers are at these firms? LinkedIn, Jigsaw, Plaxo and talking to others in your network can help you come up with the names of the people you'll need to meet.
• Events: Which events do these decision makers attend? Which events do they sponsor? Knowing this information can help you be efficient about which events you need to attend to meet the right folks.
Additional Training Needed: Last but not least, how prepared are you for this transition? Do you need to brush up on your interviewing skills? Do you need to understand how to write a resume for today's market? How good or comfortable are you at networking? Don't discount hard skills. Are you lacking any training in your field? Are there books you need or seminars to attend?
Hopefully, once you have created your marketing document, you'll have a good idea of the preparation you'll need for your job search process and you'll feel more in control. This plan will also keep you on track and focused when life throws curve balls at you. If you have questions about creating your marketing plan, post them below.
Karen Burns is the author of The Amazing Adventures of Working Girl, a career guide based on her 59 jobs over 40 years in 22 cities.
Kristen Fife is a senior recruiter, career mentor, blogger and resume consultant based in the Seattle area.
Lisa Quast is a certified career coach, mentor, business consultant, former corporate executive and author based in the Seattle area.
Randy Woods writes about job-search tools, networking techniques and other tips to help you land your dream job.
Matt Youngquist is the president of Career Horizons, a career counseling firm.
Natalie Singer is a Seattle writer, editor and small-business owner.
Michelle Goodman is the author of "My So-Called Freelance Life" and "The Anti 9-to-5 Guide."
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