Six Tips to Hit Your Job-Target Bullseye

bullseyeAfter a recent consultation with a job seeker, I was inspired to post the following on Twitter (via @ValueIntoWords): Often hear re: job target, “I don’t know what I want to be when I grow up.” Take a stand, be somebody~focus on a bullseye.

Harry Urschel, also a Twitterer via @eExecutives and founder of the recruiting company under the same name, followed with this value-add post: No one can help you find a job if you can’t tell them what you’re looking for! Make a decision and go after it!

As a resume writer, I’m often a sounding board for job searchers who have catapulted their careers from undergrad to high-performing executives, yet when asked their job target to focus their resume they stutter and stumble, unable to articulate a concrete, concise snapshot of their go-forward goal.

Oftentimes, they ask me, “Where do YOU see the market opening? Where do YOU see my skills a fit? What do YOU think?” The answer is never within ME … it is tucked under layers of the job seeker’s fear–a fear that they will be aiming at too narrow of a target and missing the 100s of other perceived opportunities outside of their target.

This simply is NOT true. By sharpening and meticulously aiming your arrow, you will be the one who hits the job-search bullseye, versus the 100s of other job seekers who commoditize and water-down their message to the point of hitting the outer perimeters of the job-search dartboard, thus, removing them from the winners’ circle.

Six tips to aiming your arrow:

1. Take initial stock of your achievements, bottom-lining your overall value to your recent company. How did you achieve results? What skills and abilities did you tap to accomplish those results? Write those down! (This tip is the first of 2 written assignments, the second of which is more in-depth career archaeology, later on in the prep process, below. Initially, in tip 1, simply sketch out your overall results and skills/abilities, then move on to tip 2).

2. Research target jobs that have the look and feel of a job you would be excited to apply for. Use, (membership-driven site I urge all executives to join), SixFigureJobs.Com, etc. and copy/paste those jobs into a Word document. Either print the jobs out and grab a yellow highlighter or use MS Word’s highlight feature to highlight key phrases and language that describe requirements that map to your experience.

3. Review position titles and make a list of those titles.

4. Make a list of requirements that you see ‘repeating’ themselves from one job posting to the next.

5. Google several of the companies you wish to target and unearth intelligence news stories, reports and content that helps you construct a visual snapshot of their current situation, their areas of pain, their future needs, etc. Get intimate with your target companies’ stories. Network with individuals at these companies live/in-person/telephone or via LinkedIn, Twitter and other social media venues.

6. Write down (yes, this is hard, tangible work – you must write, not just ‘think’ about these things), 7-10 of your own CAR (challenge, action and results) stories. Create a funnel based on your target goal, your target companies’ needs and target companies’ pain points; then filter your stories through this funnel.

The so-what factor applies. Your decisions about resume content must meaningfully answer the resume readers’ question, “So what?” — the “What’s in it for me?” question.

Bottom line, to hit your career search bullseye, your value proposition statements must be sharpened and aimed at your target audience’s needs.

For further reading on how to sift through your career past and present to prove your future marketability (personal marketability) via your resume, you may visit my article at Your Resume as a Job Search Marketability Tool.

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8 Comments on “Six Tips to Hit Your Job-Target Bullseye”

  1. Very well said Jacqui!

    Particularly in this job market, a clear understanding of what you do well and what your specific target is makes you much more effective in your search. Trying to ‘keep your options open’ usually results in NO options because there are plenty of others that are willing to do a variety of things.

    Only the candidate that knows themselves well and targets what they want looks to be better focused, more driven, and thus much more appealing.

    Do the hard work of figuring that out, then craft your message to make it clear to as many people as you can.

    Thanks for a valuable contribution Jaqui!

    Harry Urschel

    • careertrend Says:

      Your pointing out that, particularly in ‘this’ market, it is critical to be intimate with one’s own value and target goal is important enough to be read twice.

      From your recruiter vantage point, I imagine you receive many resumes and other career communications from candidates who are trying to be jacks of all trades and masters of none, thus diluting their impact. Being intimate with one’s value proposition and targeting one’s message indeed ‘is’ more appealing to a recruiter or hiring decision-maker.

      I appreciate your candid feedback, Harry!


  2. Important topic Jacqui!

    Self-assessment where life intersects career is key. It’s a gift career seekers give themselves. (It’s really not a pointless navel-gazing exercise 🙂 )

    The CAR stories are particularly useful once a commitment to the process of writing down personal brand attributes on paper occurs. It is very important for job seekers to be honest with themselves about their skills. A bull’s-eye approach is possible once the real “work” of assessing + branding is accomplished.

    It’s an ongoing process-why not transform it into a fun + creative project?

  3. careertrend Says:

    Always love your comments, Meghan! (particularly re: navel-gazing 🙂 and the idea of ‘life intersecting career.’

    “Process” is a keyword that you and I seem to both value. I particularly like your idea of framing the ongoing process of self-assessment and introspection as a ‘fun + creative’ project.

    Thank you for taking time for an artfully crafted comment!


  4. Jacqui, this is a fantastic post. What is so critical is the ability of candidates to identify their own gifts, talents and passions. If they accept anything less, they may be employed in the short-term, but will be unhappily employed long-term. You are so right – there are many similarities between job search and entrepreneurialism.


    • careertrend Says:

      Your comments are so true, Alicia!

      We must ALL (as job candidates or business entrepreneurs) ferret out our unique differentiators to achieve sustained satisfaction and happiness!

      Thank you for taking time to thoughtfully comment!


  5. Jacqui,

    What a wonderful article! You raise some very important issues. In my work, I hear from people over 50 who wish they had been more focused in their careers. Who wish they had taken the time to know themselves better and to learn how to communicate what they have to offer.

    Like Alicia said in an earlier comment, when people’s work is not a good fit for who they are, they may have a job for a while, but at what cost in the long run?

    Seems it’s more important then ever to be in charge of your own career choices and decisions.

    Thanks for the article!


    • careertrend Says:

      Very good point (re: people you hear from over 50).

      Yesterday, I spoke to a 50+ executive who admitted he felt refining his approach to his next career goal seemed a bit late in the game. At the same time, he possessed a sense of urgency and exhilaration at the thought of his next (and perhaps career-defining) ‘big gig’ being more ‘on point’ and in synchronicity with his personal/professional longings and passions.

      Thanks for taking time to comment, Janet!


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