Why you should target companies and not jobs
Over the years I have been highly fortunate to work with some incredible designers, engineers and managers, aiding them in their job searches where possible. Although my screening process has been adapted over the years to maximise value for both sides, I always try to ask probing questions that if the person is unsuccessful in getting a job through me, it at least gets them thinking more about their career, one such question is ‘what company would you like to work for, if they were hiring’.
This question is great for two reasons, firstly it gives me a clear understanding as to who the ‘benchmark’ company will be, from here I can start to understand: the type of product; environment; culture and tech someone might be interested in. Alongside this, it means I have a company I can target straight away as their recruiter, if I am connected with their hiring team a short introduction can be made, if not it is an excuse to make one.
The issue with asking this question however is that the vast majority of people cannot answer it. Either they don’t know, or they simply don’t want to share (I suspect it is the former though).
Think logically about when you are searching for a new role, what do you tend to do? Hop onto respective job boards that house your niche, you might decide to work with a recruiter (or several), you may consider asking friends or your network. The thing is, all of these activities are you searching for a job.
Sometimes this is the right way to find a new role, but it can quickly become messy and chaotic. You might duplicate applications or find yourself working in an environment that is not truly right for you. The alternative is looking for companies.
Looking for companies offers a slight difference in your searching process. Instead of targeting only companies who are actively hiring through job boards, you focus on targeting a list of companies you create from answering the two questions below:
- Which companies would I want to work for and why?
- What companies historically hire my skill set and level?
The remainder of this article will be around offering advice as to how you can answer these two questions, as well as the next steps to take once you have your target list.
Which companies would I want to work for and why?
Taking a moment to consider what companies you would actually want to work for and why will help you prioritise applications and processes later down the line. It will also help you greatly compare companies if you receive multiple offers.
For now, we would generally ask you to disregard technology stack, location and language (office language), as what you should be mostly interested in is:
- Companies vision
- Product and/or service
- Size of the business
- Growth opportunities (this can include personal, team and company)
You might have more specific wishes for your next company, therefore include them in this search. Then using LinkedIn, Xing, Twitter or any other platform of your choosing, compile a list of companies that match or at least interest you based on your requirements.
Do not limit yourself to tech, location or language for now as we will consider skill level in the next phase. If done correctly, you should have a list of varied companies across the globe.
What companies historically hire my skill set and level?
Using the list, now you can systematically filter through them to understand if they firstly hire your skillset and then secondly hire the level you are looking to enter at. Now, this doesn’t specifically refer to if the company is hiring right now, just historically, you can check by viewing their current employees on social platforms to determine if your skill set and level ‘could’ be a match.
Factor your language skills and technology skills here, discounting those in your list that are not a match (for example, if you are a Python developer and the company doesn’t work with Python, it is unlikely they could hire you).
Regarding location, if relocation is not possible from your side or fully remote not possible from the company’s side, then again, remove them from this core list.
Any company that you discount at this stage, put them in a separate list, that way you can find similar companies by simply searching their name with the word ‘competitors’ to start the process of research again.
What you are left with
If you have followed the questions correctly, you should be left with a smaller, but more actionable list of companies that you are drawn to based on factors outside of a ‘live job’, that historically hire your skills and level.
Now we want to create actions from this list, checking the companies’ careers pages you can identify if a live job matching your skills is present, if so, we would recommend creating a tailored cover letter to explain why you would want to work with them.
If no job is present, before you move on see if you can sign up for job alerts, then back to LinkedIn (or other social platforms) to connect with hiring managers within that business stating your interest to work with them. Roles might be coming up that could suit you, or an opportunity might be created for you… you never know until you ask.
The beauty of this approach is that you will open up a dialogue with senior managers within targeted companies, then it is down to you to network with them over time to stay top of their minds for when an opening comes up.
Continue adding to this list, adjust it based on your personal needs. Apply for companies first, then apply for jobs through the traditional methods. You might be surprised as to how many companies are hiring without posting jobs online. Feel free to share this with your network if you feel someone can benefit from the learnings, let’s collectively bring simplicity to the chaos of recruitment.