How to Focus and Improve Your Job Search

It’s easy to get pumped up when you’ve thought about looking for a new job. You talk to people, think about it, and start to put yourself out there. But if you haven’t created a strategy for how to go after that next job, it’s going to be rough and take a long time, unless you get lucky. And most of us are not in that boat.

Whenever a client says to me, “I’m open to anything. I’m a jack of all trades!” I get nervous for them. Why? Because if you don’t narrow down your targets, no employer is going to take the time to do it for you.  

Gone are the days where employers took a lot of time reviewing your resume to determine if you have all the characteristics and skills they need. They won’t take the time to translate what you do to what they do, or infer that you would know how to do X because you’ve done Y in the past.

When it comes to creating your job search strategy, here’s where you need to start. It’s all about refining your search.

Determine target companies. You might roll your eyes, but believe me, this will give you a lot of insight. Sure, none of us know every company located in our immediate area but once you start writing down companies you admire (near or far), you may soon discover a pattern. Think about companies you admire for their leadership, initiatives, mission, or customer service.

Take a good look at your list. Are the majority of them large companies or small companies? Startups or established? Examining it closely will give you some hints as to what you are seeking.

Identify industries. Don’t limit yourself to healthcare because you’ve worked in it for many years. There are many elements of the healthcare industry, and many industries that touch it. For example, there are medical device companies, hospitals, health-focused nonprofits, private medical practices, elder care facilities, and healthcare-focused tech firms.

There are industries galore that work with the healthcare industry as suppliers or in other capacities. Think insurance, equipment, technology, food and beverage, and more.

Review and engage with your network. There are a lot of people you know – from family and friends to former classmates (even those you don’t know who graduated in your year or different years!) to former colleagues.

Who are those people? Who works in one of your target industries and/or companies?

Don’t think of everyone as the key to get in the door. People may provide invaluable advice about your direction or give you new ideas. Others may introduce you to someone who can get you in the door. Engage with as many people as you can because building your network will get you a lot further now and later than applying blindly online. A quick, simple email exchange or phone call can lead to introductions, priceless advice, and new job opportunities.

Narrow your targets to refine your search. You will go far much quicker than if you are too broad with your strategy.