by Debra Feldman, Founder of JobWhiz job search consultancy

How to Create and Execute an Employer-Centric Job Search Strategy

Dec 04, 20078 mins

Job seekers at all levels are going about their searches all wrong. Instead of sending out ru00e9sumu00e9s willy-nilly, they need to focus their effort on the employers who will be most receptive to hiring them.

Technology, globalization and changing workforce demographics have altered the way employers recruit everyone from entry-level talent to executive staff. Yet in spite of those changes, most candidates for jobs still begin their search for a new position the old-fashioned way—by updating their résumé.


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The problem with starting a job search by updating your résumé is that it’s a case of putting the cart before the horse. Before you even consider dusting off your résumé, you need to first know the job opportunity for which you’re updating it. With your target audience in mind, you can tailor the information on your résumé to the specific job opportunity you’re pursuing. You want your résumé (and all your communications with prospective employers) to convince the hiring manager that you are uniquely positioned for his organization.

If you want to land a job quickly in this hypercompetitive market, you need to adopt an employer-centric approach to your search. That means identifying prospective employers that will want your unique skills and expertise first, then packaging yourself as a solution to their specific challenges. The most efficient and effective job search campaigns recognize the employer’s needs, reflect their priorities and zoom right in with solutions in the form of the candidate’s expertise.

With New Year’s resolutions to find a new job looming, here’s a systematic framework for creating and conducting an employer-centric job search.

Describe your ideal employer. Give some thought to the kind of company for which you’d like to work. Consider the industry, size, location and ownership model (public or private). Also come up with a short list of companies that would value your expertise. Identify the synergies between the kinds of companies you want to work for and those that would benefit from your skills, and look for jobs in those areas. Having a clear picture of your ideal job will help you focus your efforts and assess prospective opportunities. Because job searching demands extraordinary effort, discipline, resources and time, you must focus on these target areas if you want to produce results efficiently.

It is most effective to appeal to a niche market. Spreading yourself too thin weakens your brand. Trying to be everything to everyone results in being nothing to everyone.

Focus on high-potential employers. These may be organizations that compete with your current or previous employers; are going through a restructuring, merger or acquisition; are growing and need additional staff; or are known to recruit talent from your industry or for raiding your current or previous employers. In short, high-potential employers are those that are highly likely to hire you.

Pique high-potential employers’ interest in you as a candidate. Give them a reason to invest some time in getting to know you. And be specific about your needs. For instance, if you are unwilling to relocate, explain why. Give the hiring manager good reason to consider allowing you to work remotely. Show that you have successfully telecommuted in the past. If the employer says his company wants local candidates only and you’re responding from out of town, explain why you are responding to the job ad anyway: for example, that you are willing to cover your own expenses and that you grew up nearby and want to move back to be near family.

Understand the prospective employer’s needs and challenges. Once you’ve identified job opportunities suited to your background, do some research on the company in question. Check out its latest press releases, SEC filings (if public) and articles about it that may reveal the company’s strategy, goals and challenges. Find people through your network who know or work at this company and can give you additional insights. This research will help you further determine whether you’ve got the right background for the job and can help the company achieve its objectives. It will also help you zero in on how you can pitch yourself to the hiring manager in your cover letter and in subsequent interviews.

Create a positioning statement. Based on all that research you’ve done, write up a one-paragraph statement that explains why you are perfect for the company and the job. Your positioning statement should demonstrate your experience, preparation and readiness to dig in and help this employer. The goal of your positioning statement is to build the hiring manager’s confidence in you as a candidate, in your ability to excel at the work that’s required (using examples of work you’ve done in the past), and get an interview and ultimately the job. You can use this positioning statement in your cover letter, on your résumé and in interviews.

Address the hiring manager’s needs. You can attract hiring managers’ attention by showcasing your strengths and experiences in the context of their needs and pain points. They want to know you you’ve eliminated obstacles, effected change and impacted the bottom line. For example, if you know the organization where you’re applying for a job has had issues with recruiting and retaining top talent, your résumé should illustrate that you have been a successful hiring manager, that the individuals you brought into the organization were promoted and that your turnover rate is lower than the industry average.

Differentiate yourself from competitors with similar credentials. Don’t be vague about the value you bring. Showcase your niche expertise and emphasize your unique qualities. Communicate your success stories using a challenge-action-result format to illustrate your unique talents, strengths and abilities. These stories help build trust between you and the hiring manager because you’re disclosing situations that took you to the limit. These success stories and examples of your work positioned in the context of the hiring manager’s needs will help you differentiate you from competitors with similar credentials.

Be polite and positive. Good manners are always required. Respect and accommodate reasonable requests. For example, if the assistant asks that you provide your résumé as a Word document and you usually transmit it as a PDF, provide it in the format requested. If you are asked to follow up by phone, make a call and don’t send an e-mail, too. If you are told that no decisions are going to be made for two months, follow up again in two months, not one or three.

Follow up. It is the candidate’s responsibility to stay on the hiring manager’s radar until a decision is reached. Candidates should remind decision makers that they are seriously interested and that the initial contact was not made randomly.

One way to keep in touch besides phone and e-mail is to suggest attending a conference or industry event together. You can also stay top of mind without inquiring as to the status of the hiring manager’s search by making referrals and recommendations to him. For example, if you see a relevant article or website, send a copy of the piece or a link.

If your interest is not reciprocated, you should keep in touch periodically since organizations are dynamic and staffing needs change. While the job search is the candidate’s number one priority, recruiting may not be at the top of a decision maker’s daily agenda. Persist if you don’t get a timely response and don’t take delays personally. They may arise from busy travel schedules, conflicting demands, unexpected crises and personal issues.

When applying for a new job, keep in mind that employers don’t hire people because they want to give out paychecks. They hire people because they need work to get done, and they hope that the people they bring on board will provide greater value than they cost. Even though most of us work to make a living (and not because we want to), we have to put ourselves in the employers’ shoes when searching for a new job. We have to talk their talk, and we have to convince them that our experience matches their needs. By focusing on a prospective employer’s needs, you stand out from the legions of candidates who are just looking for a new job, and chances are you’ll get snatched up a lot sooner than you would have before.

Debra Feldman designs and personally implements swift, strategic and customized senior-level executive job search campaigns. Contact her through