Many people think of their job search as being like fishing. You cast a wide net by sending your CV out to as many companies as possible and hope that you can land at least one of those slippery roles. However, this method means you’ll ultimately spend less time on each application – and employers are less likely to bite if you’re throwing out poor bait.
Thinking of your job search as more like an archery contest, where you take your time and target specific companies, is a much better tactic.
So what arrows should you keep in your job hunting quiver to make sure you hit the bullseye?
Research the company
The first thing you should do is make sure you know as much as possible about the company you’re targeting. Properly researching a potential employer will give you an edge throughout the application process, so now is not the time to cut corners.
Take a look at the company’s website, LinkedIn profile, social media and any recent news articles about them. If you don’t have a specific company in mind at first, Find A Surveyor is a great resource for learning about firms in your area.
You should get a good idea of what the company’s public image is, as well as some behind-the-scenes information. What is the work environment like? What benefits and pay can you expect? Will you have long-term career opportunities with them? Assess all of these things and make sure you still want to work there.
Now that you know all about the company, start thinking about what skills you’ll need to be successful working there. Are you already at a point where you can make a meaningful contribution, or do you need some more development first?
If you’re applying for a specific role, then the job description should provide most of what you need to know. Otherwise, you can look at roles with similar companies or previous listings and see what’s included there.
Meet the employees
A great way to get some insider insight is to meet current or former employees of the company. They can tell you about what their time was like there and whether you’d be a good fit. They can also be a valuable resource later when you make an application.
If you don’t know anyone from the company already, social media is a great place to start. Look for employees on LinkedIn or Twitter and get in touch with them. Don’t start the conversation by asking for favours right away – you don’t want to come off as rude or pestering. Let the conversation evolve naturally, and by the time an opening comes along, you’ll be doing them a favour by filling it.
Don’t wait for an opening
If there’s a vacancy at the company, by all means apply. But if you know someone who works there, ask them whether they are aware of anything that might be coming up. Even if there isn’t, making your interest known will mean they keep you in mind when there is an opening.
You can also always send a speculative CV to the HR department and request an informational interview, so they can see whether you’d be suited to any roles that may soon be available.
Above all else, you want to start getting the company’s attention so that when you do get a chance to apply people the staff already have an idea of who you are. Taking on big projects in your current role or doing extra things outside work – such as starting a blog or developing your personal brand – can go a long way towards this.
While ultimately this method can get better results, it can take some time. Don’t get discouraged, though. If you have your sights set on a company, you might have to be flexible about how and when you get your foot in the door.
Consider taking on an internship or relocating to be near a branch with more openings. There are always alternative paths, so unless they give you a definitive “no”, keep your eye on the prize and take another shot.
Image: Mark Walz