The Executive Job Search Strategy: Targeting the Right Companies and Opportunities

The Executive Job Search Strategy: Targeting the Right Companies and Opportunities was originally published on Ivy Exec.

When you’re looking for a job, who you know often makes a significant difference.

The so-called “hidden job market” is made up of jobs that are never posted online. Instead, CNBC suggests that around 80 percent of jobs are filled through “personal and professional connections.”

How do jobseekers make these connections? 

“Individuals will need to find others who can help them get better faster- small workgroups, organizations, and broader and more diverse social networks. We are likely to see much richer and more diverse forms of collaboration emerge over time,” said Deloitte’s John Hagel and Jeff Schwartz.

In other words, professionals need to develop networks long before they look for new jobs. Even if you’re happy in your current role, you always need to play the long game in targeting the right companies and opportunities.

Then, if you know where you’d ideally like to work, you can start developing connections with people who already work there.

Over time, you never know when your contacts will clue you in to “hidden” job opportunities – and help you land them.


✴ Decide what you’re looking for in your next organization.

Targeting the right companies and organizations starts with figuring out what you’re looking for in your next role.

You might be tempted simply to make a list of the highest-profile organizations in your region without actually figuring out which work conditions suit you best. 

So, before you start researching specific companies, figure out what your ideal workplace looks like. Is there a type of mission you’d like to support? How flexible would you like your working life to be? Is there a certain salary you’d expect? 

Next, decide how important each quality is to you, giving each one a ranking. If you compile this information first, you can then assess each company more neutrally based on how closely it fits your needs.


✴ Develop a list of “dream” companies.

Once you have your “rubric,” start researching companies that interest you.

Start by exploring companies in your industry using databases like CareerOneStop Business Finder and Crunchbase, both of which let you search by industry, number of employees, and other factors. 

Once you have found at least one company that fits what you’re looking for, you can type in “companies like _____” to find similar organizations. Crunchbase also offers this type of information. 

If you’re stuck, you can figure out where your former colleagues, ideally those with similar backgrounds to yours, have ended up. 

“Run a search on LinkedIn to see where those you’ve previously worked with found employment. This is a good way to find companies in different industries that may value your background; it works especially well if you both worked in the same department or business unit,” said Amanda Augustine, CPCC & CPRW.

Another way to conduct this research is by researching individuals whose careers you admire. Then, you can identify where they work currently or worked before to find the organizations that can help you get where you want to go. 

“In my coaching programs, people have thought about their strengths, values, experiences, and the problems they love to solve. All these kinds of things. They come up with these sort of keywords, and we put these keywords and different combinations into LinkedIn,” said Rosie McCarthy, founder of Badass Careers.


✴ Reach out for informational interviews.

After you make your company list, start building connections with professionals who already work there.

Even if your contact isn’t involved with hiring, having an internal recommendation at an organization can make all the difference. 

So, how can you develop a bond with someone you don’t know? 

The best way is to ask for an informational interview. An informational interview is “an exchange that allows you to get more information about a certain person’s profession or a workplace that they’re currently working in. Or, during the job search phase, potentially a certain team or role itself,” said McCarthy.

First, identify who might be a useful connection for you at the organization. You’re probably not going to reach out to the CEO, but research on LinkedIn to find individuals in your department, ideally, someone who’s slightly further along the career ladder. 

Then, figure out what you want to ask them about. For instance, you could tell them you’re interested in Company X and want to learn more. Or you could tell them you want to inquire about their career trajectory. 

An informational interview can actually hurt you if you’re insincere or apprehensive. Instead, use your curiosity to guide the questions you want to ask. If you already have a connection to someone you want to reach out to – perhaps you went to the same university, for instance – that’s great, and you should mention it! 

However, plenty of professionals agree to informational interviews with people they have never met. 


Targeting the Right Companies and Opportunities


A significant number of open roles are filled through personal and professional connections.

While it benefits you to develop your network in several different ways, one of the most effective strategies is by targeting the right companies and opportunities long before you’re actually seeking another job. 

Start by identifying what you’re looking for in an organization before identifying companies that fit into these expectations. Once you have at least one “dream” company in mind, you can then figure out similar workplaces through research. 

Next, seek out informational interviews with folks at these organizations so you can start developing personal connections at companies where you see yourself in the future.

Want to learn more about the art of targeting companies? Read on here and here for advice from career experts. 

By Ivy Exec
Ivy Exec is your dedicated career development resource.