I met my client, who I will call Susan, 18 months ago—and this was the start of her targeted job search.
Susan is a project manager and marketing professional. She worked for a small firm where the founding partners were in disagreement on the direction of the company. It looked like the company would be sold or close its doors.
Susan is unmarried and is very worried about her retirement. She is like many women in her position—worried about becoming a bag lady.
She decided to target institutions that could provide a pension, which meant universities and government institutions.
I explained to her the aspects of a targeted job search that she needed to understand:
- Her next position would come through a relationship
- She has absolutely no control over the timing
Step #1 – Building her target list
Susan decided to target a very large university in the area. This university had a lot of colleges that were fairly autonomous in their hiring. She targeted the colleges and departments that most attracted her.
Step #2 – Started to strategically networking
Susan created a list of everyone she knew at the university and started to reach out to those people. She regularly scheduled coffee or lunch meetings with her contacts and she followed my strategy of “Asking for AIR” (Advice, Insights and Recommendations).
Step #3 – Leveraging Employee Referrals
Employee referrals are golden. Each time she heard about a position opening up or found one listed on the university job board, she customized her resume and had someone in her network pass it along to the hiring manager before applying on-line.
Susan got some interviews and was a finalist a few times, but wasn’t offered a position. This continued for over a year. She was getting very discouraged. The situation at her current job had not gotten any better.
About a month ago, she got an e-mail from someone in her network. A position was available that was a really good fit for her. The problem was that they were already interviewing candidates. She needed to move fast! Susan’s contact passed her customized resume in to HR. Within a couple of days, the university called her to schedule an interview.
Susan was not immediately available to interview. The hiring manager was extremely patient and waited to interview her.
What was going on?
It turned out that Susan had applied for a similar position earlier in the year. The person they hired did not work out and was let go. When her resume was submitted to the hiring committee, someone immediately recognized her name from the previous application and fast tracked the resume to the right people.
A couple of rigorous interviews later, she had an offer letter.
What had Susan done right?
Susan did a lot of things right over the past year:
- She diligently and consistently worked her network.
- She attended regular meetups on digital marketing and was a regular at PMI meetings. She was up on the latest advances and, more importantly, she knew the lingo!
- She focused much of the last year on her health. She felt good and it showed!
Susan was even able to negotiate a salary at the university that was very close to her current salary. She was moving from the private to public sector. She knew she would take a pay cut, but it ended up being minimal.
The new position came through a relationship. The timing was a complete surprise.
Check out my book Repurpose Your Career – A Practical Guide for Baby Boomers