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Levett Career Center

Flip your Search

Take a Strategic Approach: Flip your Search

Are you trying to find a job from a distance or in a field that doesn't offer many postings? Generally, the more specific your skill set and interests are, the more necessary it is to take a strategic approach to your job search. If the type of job you are seeking isn't typically posted widely, you might find scanning job boards frustrating and fruitless. (Of course, lightning can strike through a job board so you should still give that approach a little time each day, using sites like www.indeed.com).

Instead, I recommend that you "flip your search," by first targeting specific organizations that match your goals and interests, then by finding networking contacts who can help you learn about job openings at those sites. Rather than starting by focusing on whatever current openings are posted at the moment, first take some time to:

  • step back and see who the employers are in your targeted career field and location,
  • research them,
  • select the top 5-10 whom you'd like to work for, then
  • identify people you have a connection with or who are at the organization in order both to learn about jobs that aren't posted widely and to find out what is most valued there so you can prove you're a match.

Here's what this would look like in practice: let's say that you are searching for an economic development position in Austin, TX. Using my steps above,

  • Identify the major employers concerned with economic development, such as the City of Austin and the Austin Chamber of Commerce.
  • Research each: among other things, you need to learn what matters to the City of Austin in order to decide if their mission and activities attract you to want to work for them. What are their priorities, new initiatives, measures of success, potential areas of future growth, key industries, etc.? Of course, you can also learn about what matters to the City of Austin from the Austin Chamber of Commerce. Continue your research to identify who else can shed light for you about the City of Austin, immersing yourself in the concerns that matter to economic developers in Austin, always with an eye to how you might have skills and passions that could serve as a solution to their problems or contribute to improvements in Austin.
  • Select your top 5- 10 employers who best match your interests and skills.
  • Find connections: start searching for networking contacts into your top organizations. In addition to your personal network, use LinkedIn for this purpose by searching for the organizations, finding who is working for them and joining relevant groups they participate in. In a previous Job Search Tip, I wrote about how to Use LinkedIn like an Expert, spelling this out more clearly. You should also follow the organizations on Facebook and Twitter. Ask potential contacts if they would be willing to tell you how openings are posted and to let you know about openings you might be qualified for, find out from them what an ideal employee is like in their organization, request that they critique your resume for themes that matter, and ask their advice about joining the organization.

Best of luck with your search.  Let me know if you have questions!

Margaret Krantz