January 27, 2010, 2:10 PM — What's the best way for job seekers to land a new job in this dismal market? Target specific employers and network your way into them, career experts say. It's sound job search advice. Unfortunately, most job seekers go about this the wrong way (or they don't do it at all), says Vicki Brackett, a career coach and president and CEO of Make It Happen Consulting.
Job seekers make many mistakes in their job searches, including over-relying on networking with people who can't offer much help in this job market, such as recruiters and HR managers, says Brackett. But their biggest misstep is conducting their job search backwards, she says. In other words, they start by updating their résumé, which they then send out to their network, hoping those people will pass it on.
Such a scattershot approach to networking and to the job search doesn't work when thousands of unemployed professionals are using the same approach and job opportunities are so limited, says Brackett.
Instead, she advises job seekers to think of themselves as a product and market themselves like an agency.
"If we were going to sell an energy drink, we wouldn't create the energy drink and then go to stores hoping they'll buy it," she says, adding that's the cart-before-the-horse approach job seekers take with their résumés. "We'd first do research. We'd find out who would drink the energy drink, what they're looking for in an energy drink, how it would help them, how we'd get it to market, and what the packaging looks like. Once we understand that, we perfect the beverage and go to market."
So in a job search, adds Brackett, job seekers should first identify the industries and the companies where they'd fit. If they identify any movement in a company-whether it's the stock price going up or down, talk of merger or acquisition activity, an executive resignation or a new executive hire-that signals a potential opportunity, she says.
The job seeker's next step: learn everything you can about the industry and your target employer(s). You need to know the industry's and the company's pain points and business goals so that you can communicate exactly how you're going to solve the company's problem. Employers want to hear your strategies for making the company money, saving money and minimizing risk, says Brackett.