PART 2 – External Research
By Laura Sturmer
Once you have completed the first step of the job search (Part 1: “Know yourself”) you should have your “two to three hats” (positions you will be applying for) well defined. You also should have a ready to use elevator pitch for each of those positions summarizing who you are, what you do and why you’d be a perfect candidate for that.
After you have completed the first step, then its time to move the second part:
Looking for companies that have the problems you like to solve
Once you know the positions you are applying for (which have the problems you like to solve) the next step is to define your industry. Defining your industry (which typically will have companies facing the problems you like to solve), will really help you to focus your efforts and be more effective. As I mentioned in the previous article, the Canadian Labour Market is a specialized one.
Some people might have it clear and know right away what type of industry they want to specialize in, like retail, pharma, banking, startups, tech in general, etc. If you are one of them, you can skip the next few paragraphs.
Question 1: I really like startups and would love to work for any company related to that but I have no experience in this industry. Can I still pick startup as my focused industry?
Yes. At this point, you should really pick an industry that:
You really like and would love to work for.
This will make your life easier (TRUST ME!). When we do things we really love and we are passionate about, doing network, learning/reading about the industry and chatting with people about it is natural and easier.
That you like and have some previous experience on it (the previous job, have done projects for it, etc)
Question 2: I really want to start into marketing, and I defined “marketing coordinator” as one of my potential “hats” (positions I would apply). However, I don’t have one favourite industry I would love to work for.
Focusing always helps you to be more productive and effective. Each industry, you will see later, had different types of meetups and events you will attend, as well as they face different challenges.
If you can’t really narrow down to one industry, try to select a maximum of two industries (i.e I will focus my effort on startups and tech companies).
If it still hard for you, use the approach below for “companies”. What are the top 10 companies I really want to work for because I like their values, products, challenges they are facing, etc? You will then specialize on knowing everything you can about those companies and it also helps you to focus.
Some of the steps below I learned while reading the book “The 2-Hour Job Search” by Steve Dalton. This book is taught in most of the MBAs and when I read it really helped me because it offered a step-by-step framework for me to focus. I adapted some of the steps to my reality and used it when doing my job search (this is how I was able to get back to the Retail industry).
Since you have now the focused industries (if you don’t, do the favourite company approach):
1 – List in an excel spreadsheet all the companies that you have ever heard off that play in your favourite industry. (If you don’t have a focused industry, list all companies you would like to work for). This part is more a brainstorm, just list as many companies as you know.
2- If you can’t remember more names, start using Google and typing things like “largest retailers in Canada”, “top growing startups”. etc. Those will help you to find more companies to add to your list.
3- Find industry association websites and make sure the companies they list as their associates and members are included in your list as well. Sometimes those organizations do have annual awards, you can look to the organizations that have won in previous years it will give you a good glance of the type of company they are.
Once you are done with this step you should have at least 30 companies. If you were not able to find a high number, keep googling and adding a few more, unless your industry is very specific and has only a handful of employers.
The next step is to prioritize. For each of those companies, you will then search if:
They have a unit in the city or near where you live. Sometimes their head office is in another city or country, so you won’t be able to find roles in your field unless you move. This filter is an important one. How long am I willing to commute everyday? If the company’s office is a two hour driving commute from your home and you are not willing to buy a car, it’s time to remove it from your list (don’t waste your time and the employer’s time if you already know you won’t be happy working there due to the commute).
They have similar positions that you are looking for: either opened (check job postings on Linkedin, Indeed and employer’s website) or someone working there with the same job title you are aiming for (searches on Linkedin). Some companies have units spread across different cities that carry only the operations or logistics area and leaving other departments, like marketing for example, in the head office. If this is the case, remove this employer from your list.
On the remaining companies, create a second column with the title “motivation”. And then for each employer list from 1 (high motivated) to 3 (low motivated) are you to work for this organization. It will help you later again, to prioritize and allocate time accordingly to focus on your “dream job”.
After applying the filters above and ranking you should have a narrowed down list of your focus companies, so it’s time for more research:
A – Use the Follow button on Linkedin to follow employees from this company on Linkedin as well as the company page. By following them you will see the content they post and share, which will help you to learn more about the industry/company, events and meetups happening, news, job posts, etc.
B- Subscribe to Google Alerts with the name of those companies and the industry. Then you will start receiving news to be always informed about whatever is happening with the company and industry. Your ultimate goal is to become an expert on that so it’s easier to chat, network and create content on Linkedin. And again, since you focused on industry you are passionate about, this shouldn’t be a boring task 😉
C- Subscribe to newsletters and podcasts related to the industry and the company.
After doing this and making your research, you should start having some clarity of the main challenges and current situation of each of your priority companies.
Have they recently been acquired and are focusing on the merge?
Have they recently launched a new disruptive product?
In the next part of this article, we will talk about “Building your network and using it to access the “hidden job post-market”. For now, I hope the previous steps have helped you to know more about yourself and the employers you will be focusing.
If you have questions related to this step or job search in general, feel free to comment. If you have any other tips that worked on your job search, share as well 🙂
Also, share and tag friends that might benefit from this framework.
See you in Part 3 🙂
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