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Selective, but Out There

So, you're not exactly out of a job, but you're just not into your job, either. Or, you've gotten wind of an impending layoff or change in management. Maybe you have the feeling your days are numbered, but you're not necessarily on red alert. Perhaps you're contemplating a move across the country or the globe, and you'll make the change if the right job comes along. Or, you know you're hot stuff and you want to feel out your options. In other words, you know a change is around the corner—you just don't know which corner. For you, I recommend the "Selective, but Out There" technique.

This plan of action offers more flexibility and options than the "Fire Hose" technique, but still requires legwork, planning, and research. If you have time to explore your options in the job search, try these techniques as you go about finding your dream job. Heck, you might just discover along the way that to get the job you really, really want, you might have to take a class, get certified, or hone certain skills. But that's what the research is all about—finding out what it takes to get the dream job you know you deserve.

  • Start researching and reviewing the Web sites of companies you'd love to work for. (If you don't know the answer to that yet, now's the time to start figuring it out.) See whether there are current job openings posted at these sites, and if you think you're qualified and ready to make a change sooner instead of later, go ahead and send your résumé. Be sure to state your search is confidential and that you're currently employed.

  • Test the waters by posting your résumé to a small handful (two to four) of the major job sites and résumé databases, preferably ones that are candidate- controlled or have other privacy features. Better yet, I suggest posting an anonymous résumé—one that doesn't list your name or the names of companies you've worked for, but lets employers, recruiters, and headhunters know enough to nibble on your bait. Include your job-search email address and wait to see what comes your way.

  • Find industry-specific sites that accept résumés and post yours there. Also, review job postings and apply or just get a sense of what employers are looking for to start rehashing your résumé if you haven't already done so.

  • If you haven't already started networking, what are you waiting for? Oftentimes, the best jobs go unadvertised. If time is on your side, really work the networking system to get the inside scoop on job openings or future openings. It's also a good idea to have an established network before you really need a job, so get started pronto. I think one of the reasons people are uncomfortable with networking is that you face the possibility of human rejection and have to ask for favors from people you hardly know. That's why it's better to start making friends before you need their help.

  • Regularly visit your target company Web sites for job postings, and also to see what's new or whether any new press releases or new product announcements have been announced.

  • Open the channel of communication with a select few third-party recruiters or headhunters. Chapter 17 discusses the pros and cons of working with these folks, so before you send your résumé to one, be sure you know what you're getting into.

  • Stay current by reading up on industry news at online magazines that cover topics and events in your field. You can even subscribe to mailing lists or discussion forums that cover the news of the day in the industry you're fishing in.

Interview an Employee at Your Target Company

After you've done research on target companies, another way to help you figure out what your dream job might be is to ask current employees. Having someone explain their responsibilities and position might give you a more down-to-earth feel for the position, and whether you think you'd like it or not.

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