Develop a Targeted Job Search Strategy

Mitchell_targeted job search August 17, 2021 By: Barbara Mitchell

Thinking about moving on to your next career opportunity? Rather than taking a more passive approach, you may find actively targeting organizations where you’d like to work leads to long-term job satisfaction.

Q: I have been thinking about my career and believe it’s time for me to make a change. I read somewhere that a good way to look for a new opportunity is to target organizations where I’d like to work, but I don’t have the first idea of how to do that. Can you give me some initial steps for getting started?

A: I agree that this is a great way to do a job search. While most people post their resume on Indeed or LinkedIn (you should do that, too) and then wait for employers or recruiting firms to find them, when you target the places where you think you’d like to work, you have more control. Plus, I think it is a more strategic approach to job hunting.

Start by being clear on what it is that’s important to you in your next organization. For example, if the organization’s values are your top driver, start there. Spend time on their website researching their values. But don’t just look at and read their list of values—check to see if you can find ways that they actually live their values.

Here’s an example: If one of their expressed values is diversity and inclusion, but when you look at their website, staff and board diversity seems nonexistent and there is no DEI statement to be found, it’s likely a sign that they’re not following through on their values.

Start by being clear on what it is that’s important to you in your next organization. 

After doing this initial online research, the next step is to make a list of organizations you admire and begin following them on social media. Your list can be as long as you’d like, but I recommend you divide it up into weekly targets and focus on your first 10 one week and go from there.

In addition to following these organizations on social media, read their press releases, get to know how they market themselves, study the bios of the leadership, and spend a lot of time on their jobs or careers page to see what you can learn about their culture.

From there, look at your LinkedIn connections and see who you know who already works there. Contact those people and ask if you can pick their brains on what it is like to work at that organization. If you don’t have a direct contact there, use your LinkedIn contacts to find one.

Then, when you see a job open at that organization that fits your skills, see if one of your contacts who already works there is willing to put in a good word for you. However, apply through the channels the organization requested.

While this may seem like a lot of work, remember that the payoff can be great. Good luck.

Barbara Mitchell

Barbara Mitchell is a human resources and management consultant and author of The Big Book of HR, The Essential Workplace Conflict Handbook, The Conflict Resolution Phrase Book, and her latest The Decisive Manager. Do you have a question you'd like her to answer? Send it to