Phase two of a job search – Who is your target audience?
Once you have been introspective about your achievements, stories that describe them and the competencies that your accomplishments align with, it’s time to turn your attention to the external world. This means identifying your target audience – who would want to talk with you, meet you, refer you to other prospects and of course hire you.
Logically, when embarking on a job search, many people will look at the industry they currently work in first. Competing companies almost always interview people who are already familiar with and experienced in their specific industry. If you are open to working for your employer’s competitors and a non-compete isn’t an obstacle then by all means create a comprehensive list of those companies and network into them.
The other two scenarios are that you really would like to switch industries however you are not familiar with what those industries may be or you find a specific industry very interesting however you may not know much about it. A word of caution for either situation: be careful not to stereotype an industry too broadly based upon something you heard from your neighbor or an article you read in the newspaper.
Look on-line for the list of NAICS (North American Industry Classification System) codes which are assigned to specific industries and review those. Make a short list of the ones that sound interesting and then start researching them on-line as well as trying to find someone who works in the industry through your LinkedIn connections or personal network.
The Internet is a wonderful way to learn about almost anything however at the end of the day, it’s much more useful to talk to people who work in the job or industry you are researching. Set up an informational interview with not just one person but a handful of people and ask each person the same questions. I have a client who has a clinical healthcare background and is interested in healthcare consulting. I was able to connect her with one of my former clients who was a nurse and became a consultant and she not only learned a lot, but my former client offered to introduce her to a few other people at her company.
Once you have identified 2-3 industries, you can focus on creating a target list of potential employers for each one and begin the networking process to meet influencers and decision makers in various companies.
Finally, you will want to set a realistic deadline for the amount of time you will dedicate to breaking into a new industry. And be sure to keep nurturing your new contacts because you never know when an opportunity will pop up in the future!