This is a critical step in the job search process. It is a three-step process.
If you have followed the career development process from the beginning, by now you have chosen the type of career you would like to have, given your interests and abilities. Now you are going to identify which companies offer the types of positions you are seeking, given your interests, qualifications, your "reward" requirements and geographic preferences. If you don’t find any "exact matches,” it is up to you to decide where there is flexibility. Can you expand your geographic preferences? Can you change your reward expectations? Are there other opportunities available that you would consider, even if they are not an exact fit? Only you can determine the answers to these questions. The mindset that will yield the most options is "targeted, yet flexible." Once you know where you stand, you can develop your "target list."
The Career Resource Center recommends a targeted approach to your job search. Select only companies and positions in which you are truly interested. Mass mailing résumés and mail merge cover letter campaigns have been proven to be costly, time-consuming and, most importantly, highly ineffective. Classified advertisements, Web-based employment sites, employment agencies and executive recruiters are among the many resources available. Keep in mind, however, that more jobs are obtained through personal contacts and networking than any other resource available. Your personal network is your key to employment opportunities. The following resources will assist you:
After developing your "target list" research the companies and positions thoroughly to evaluate your fit and narrow down your list. This usually requires a more in-depth approach than your preliminary research. Focus on matching what you seek in work style, values, rewards, etc., with the culture of the companies you have targeted. Mentors, alumni and the staff of the Career Resource Center can often provide insights on this. Company newsletters and websites can be a good source of information and will help you gauge corporate culture, but don't limit yourself to these resources. They only tell you what the company wants you to know. You will also want to check recent periodicals such as newspapers and business periodicals, The Wall Street Journal and other publications for more objective information about companies. The following resources will provide you with information that will help you narrow down your list:
In other words, go for it! Once you have narrowed down your list of companies, you may actually begin to approach them. Remember—the warmer your leads, the better your chances. Avoid sending unsolicited letters and mass-mailings "to whom it may concern." They are nearly always a waste of your time. If you have inside leads to a company (fellow alumni, a friend of a friend or even someone you met and talked with at a social or business event), they are usually a better resource that an unnamed department head. Use your contacts to get to the right person and be a "name dropper." For example, "Dear Ms. Jones: Mr. Johnson from your Marketing Department suggested that I contact you…" Be sure that your cover letter and résumé are in order and apply to your target companies.
Some additional pointers to help you through the process:
Next Step: Evaluate your results