Wednesday, May 2, 2012

The Importance of Focus in a Job Search

I spent most of my day today at a career fair for veteran's, transitioning military members, and their family members. I looked at more than 40 resumes today and talked to many job seekers. In more than half of these conversations, when I asked them to name their career focus, they either said they were looking for anything or they named three or four different career fields that had nothing to do with each other.

I spent much of my day explaining the importance of focus in the job search, so I decided to repeat myself, one more time, here on my blog. As I explained again and again today, the job search and resume writing process is like strategic marketing. These are the three stages of strategic marketing as they relate to your potential employer being the "customer" in the job search process.

First - Identify your Customer
In order to create a compelling marketing statement, you must first clearly define your customer. Keep in mind, there is no such thing as an effective, generic resume. When we try to appeal to everyone at once with our resume, we end up appealing to no one. Clearly define your target industry and profession before you even begin writing your resume and launching your job search.

Second - Identify your Customer's Needs and Wants
In order to create a targeted marketing approach with your resume and interview answers, you have to know what your customer wants to hear. Once you know your target, you can define key words, skills, and qualifications that must be in your resume and discussed in the interview. You can also focus on the accomplishments in your past experience that will demonstrate the type of results that will appeal to your target industry.

Third - Define What you Can Do to Meet your Customer's Needs
This is the step where you define your transferable skills. Those all-important marketable skills and accomplishments that show you can add value to your potential employer's organization. In this step you think about how you will be cost-effective as an employee and the benefits your employer will receive from adding you to the team. Once again, these are determined by the specific needs, wants, and interests of the potential employer.

So you see, it is nearly impossible to complete step 2 and step 3 without successfully accomplishing that first critical step of defining your customer or your target job. Have you ever tried to aim for a target or walk in a straight line with your eyes closed? It is nearly impossible to be successful. It is just as difficult to be successful in the job search without a clearly defined goal in mind.

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