How to Target Your Job Search

June 1, 2010 at 2:08 am Leave a comment

Job hunters receive a lot of conflicting information. Be hopeful and optimistic, yet be realistic and don’t expect too much. Be yourself in interviews — though rein it in. Don’t spend too much time online yet use social networking sites as a way to market your job search. And my favorite mixed message — stay open to opportunities but focus your search in specific areas.

It’s no wonder that it’s confusing out there on the hunt. Yet I have little quarrel with this last piece of mixed advice. While it’s true — and I’ve seen the evidence again and again — that career opportunities sometimes come from unexpected directions, one needs a great deal of  focus in their search. You only have so much time and energy — and ability to deal with rejection — for a search, so it’s imperative to narrow it in ways that will give you your best chance of a good return: a job offer.

Some effective ways to narrow your job search are by:

*Geography. Many job hunters must do this anyway, especially at mid-career, as they have mortgages and kids in school and can’t up and leave. For those who can relocate, there may appear to be more opportunities elsewhere just by the sheer number of openings in other cities for someone with your skills and experience. Yet even if you are open to moving elsewhere, be careful not to look too broadly and at too many areas or regions. First, it’s expensive. Very few organizations — and especially those in journalism — are paying any relocation costs these days. Not many are even footing the bill to bring in candidates for job interviews, especially if it’s an expensive cross-country plane ticket. So you’d likely be shelling out some money to look elsewhere. (See Feb. 9 post, “Trying to find a job in D.C. — or another city — when you live elsewhere.”) It’s also easier to get in the door locally, especially for informational interviews.  And be careful to conduct a lot of research before you target a geographic area — remember that the D.C. area in the past few years has consistently ranked as one of the top cities for U.S. job hunters, because of the range of jobs available in government, associations, non-profits and companies.

*Job description. This may sound obvious but job hunters — especially when they are thinking about moving on from their industry or field — often cast too wide a net for the kind of job openings they’ll consider. Broad fields like communications, public relations or public affairs could mean a lot of things. Early in a search is a good time to study job descriptions, even for positions you’re not that interested in pursuing. What you want to do is figure out what types of jobs match your interests, skills, experience (even when you’re transitioning — you have to make the case that your experience could translate to this type of work) and aptitude. When you start to see some patterns in the type of positions that seem right for you, those are the type of jobs to go target in a focused way.

*Type of organization. Another mistake job hunters make is to figure that they’ll take a certain kind of job — say, Web producer or magazine editor — at any type of organization. Yet a Web editor at a trade association performs many different kind of duties in a much different atmosphere than if they were supporting a non-profit advocacy group or were part of a corporate PR team. Study an organization’s history, mission, corporate culture, what sorts of people they hire with what sorts of skills and background and their financial underpinnings and relationships. After you figure out what they’re about, you’re much more likely to determine if this is an organization — and it is in a larger realm — that makes sense for you.

*Margaret Riley Dikel’s terrific site, “The Riley Guide,” recently posted a piece by a manager surviving his second job transition in a year. Lots of pearls of wisdom — and humanity — in these words:

The Riley Guide

*And now, a batch of fresh leads to check out:

*National Geographic in D.C. has an opening for a marketing and communications director:

Director, Marketing and Communications
National Geographic – Washington, DC
seeking a Marketing and Communications Director with… research panel. Serving as editor and “voice” for all marketing communications, including print catalogs…

*A transitioning journalist or other professional with a public policy (and health care) background might be interested in this opportunity — Humana has an opening in D.C. for a government relations policy director:

Government Relations Policy Director
Humana – Washington, DC
content to support Public Affairs Strategic communications. * Leads multi-disciplinary work groups to… distribution and communication of organizational…
From Humana

*Capital Hospice in Falls Church is looking for a director of digital communications:

Director of Digital Communications- Falls Chu
Capital Hospice – Falls Church, VA
required in Communications, Journalism, Information Science or related field. Masters degree preferred. Seven-10 years as Online Communications manager in…

*A trade association in Alexandria is looking for an associate editor:

Trade Association seeks full-time associate editor for monthly magazine, weekly e-newsletter & other print/online publications.
Successful candidate is a detail-oriented team player with strong writing, editing and reporting skills—plus customer service. BA in journalism, English, or related field, plus two or more years’ experience in journalism or pr/communications; AP style helpful.
Metro/Alexandria. Competitive pay/benefits: medical, dental, pension and 401(k).
E-mail resume/cover letter to

*George Mason University in Fairfax is seeking a part-time (25-30 hours a week) writer in the dean’s office at the College of Humanities and Social Sciences (CHSS):

*And last but certainly not least today,  a Hill opening:

Rep. Donald Payne, D-N.J., has an opening in his office for a speechwriter/public relations staffer. If interested, contact LaVerne Alexander, Payne’s chief of staff — 202-225-3436.

Happy hunting in this new month!



Entry filed under: Uncategorized.

Summer’s coming: Better step up your job hunt now Do This, Not That for Networking Success

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