CIOs love a good analogy: an IT infrastructure is like a\n house; business is like a football game; an IT project (too\n often) is like a patient bleeding on the table. With that in\n mind, I thought I\u2019d apply a new analogy to an old\n question: Just how does one go about conducting a proactive,\n precise, effective job search?The answer: Think of the process as something akin to\n bring\u00ading a high-quality product to market.In this scenario, you, of course, are the product. You have\n been in product development for a number of years, and while\n you\u2019ve enjoyed some trial runs in the market, you are now\n ready for a full-blown launch. So what does it take to go to\n market?\n\n Step One: Define your brand.\n As any good product manager will tell you, you cannot go to\n market before you truly understand your brand. What are your\n attributes? Are you a turnaround CIO? A technology guru? A\n financial services expert? A startup CIO?Once you understand what qualities you embody (beyond simply\n CIO of ABC Corp.) and once you can articulate those qualities\n succinctly and effectively, you are ready to move to Step\n Two.\n\n Step Two: Define your market.\n Barring, perhaps, Coca-Cola, there are few companies that can\n claim their product appeals to consumers in every demographic.\n Most companies will define a particular market for their\n product: women over 40, small businesses in the Northeast,\n wealthy couples who like to dress up their dogs.So I am always amazed by how often CIOs intent on marketing\n themselves skip this essential step. When I ask them to\n describe their dream job they often neglect to specify\n industry, geography or even the job function they want. The\n more specific you can get about your goal\u2014a midsize\n retail company in the Midwest\u2014the more proactive you can\n be about building a pipeline of leads to get you there.\n\n Step Three: Develop your marketing\n materials.\n Let me say just a few words about your r\u00e9sum\u00e9:\n Limit it to three pages. Include a one-line description of each\n company you list. Emphasize the business impact of your\n technology achievements. Avoid listing specific\n technologies\u2014unless you are going for a CTO or chief\n architect role. Mention accomplishments in team building and\n leadership development. Include metrics: size of staff, budget\n and annual revenues. Pay attention to formatting: keep the font\n crisp and easy on the eyes. Finally, put dates on your\n education regardless of how long ago you received your\n degree.\n\n Step Four: Build the pipeline.\n Now that you know your market and you have your collateral,\n you\u2019re ready to build your pipeline of prospects. Take\n the general market definition you\u2019ve developed and make a\n list of every company that qualifies. Once you\u2019ve got\n that list, chances are, you know someone who knows someone who\n knows a decision-maker in every company, so pick up the phone\n and start calling your contacts.Be sure to include your vendors in an early round of calls,\n suggests Scott Hicar, who recently left his role as CIO at\n Maxtor to become CIO of Solectron.\u201cYour best salespeople are generally\n well-connected,\u201d he says. \u201cThey typically have\n better networks than you do and for them, there is nothing\n better they can do than find an old customer a new\n home.\u201dIf you are short on contacts in your dream industry or\n location, there is always the cold call. Dan Sheehan, former\n CIO of ADVO, used this tactic when he was conducting his last\n job search.\u201cI used a few databases and got a list of all of the\n companies that were over $1 billion in annual revenues in New\n England,\u201d he says. \u201cThen I went down the list and\n cold called the top HR per\u00adson in each company and inquired\n about sen\u00adior IT positions.\u201dThat tactic landed Sheehan the CIO role at Dunkin\u2019\n Brands. \u201cThey told me they were looking and they put me\n in touch with the recruiter who was doing the search,\u201d he\n says.When job hunting at the VP or C level, be sure to include\n executive recruiters on your list of contacts, suggests\n Sheehan.\u201cWhen you are working and employed, recruiters call\n you all the time,\u201d says Sheehan. \u201cEvery time a\n recruiter called me, I would update my Rolodex with notes about\n who called me and for what. When it was my turn to look, I\n brought up all of those contacts and called them with specifics\n about what we had talked about before.\u201dAll of his diligence through the years allowed Sheehan to\n tap into a network of recruiters exactly at the moment when he\n needed to utilize it.If you haven\u2019t been quite as diligent as that,\n you\u2019ll need to rely on your contacts to introduce you to\n recruiters. But as in golf, it is all in the follow-through.\n And speaking of which\u2026\n\n Step Five: Follow through.\n When Mark Goetze, former director of enterprise applications at\n ITT Industries, conducted his search for a new job, he\n contacted several recruiters who had been referred to him by a\n former col\u00adleague. After an initial contact, Goetze stayed\n on their radar screen. \u201cRecruiters essentially have this\n huge pile of r\u00e9sum\u00e9s on their desk,\u201d he\n says. \u201cThe only way to stay on top of the pile is regular\n contact.\u201dHowever, you want to stop short of being a burden to the\n recruiter, cautions Goetze, who recently landed a role as VP of\n IT for the medication delivery division of Baxter\n International. \u201cBut you want to follow up every two\n weeks,\u201d he says. \u201cIt\u2019s all about staying\n current.\u201d\n\n Step Six: Close the deal.\n Let me offer a few words about conducting a good interview.\n Obviously, you need to study up on the company. Sheehan, for\n instance, talked with Dunkin\u2019 Brands\u2019 franchisees\n about their IT needs before his interview. But during the\n interview, here are some thoughts you should keep in mind:\n Talk more about why you want the new job than about why\n you want to leave the old one.\n\n Never bring up money.\n\n Prepare five major accomplishments to discuss\u2014in\n detail, with bullet points\u2014when asked.\n\n Make eye contact with everyone in the room.\n\n Listen as much as you talk.\n\n Prepare a ton of really smart questions.\n And if you don\u2019t get the\n job, proceed immediately to...Step Seven: Convince yourself that you\n never really wanted it in the first place.Martha Heller is managing director of the IT Leadership\n Practice at ZRG, an executive recruiting firm based in Boston.\n Reach her at firstname.lastname@example.org.