Dream jobs rarely fall into your lap. Landing one is usually the result of persistence, patience, and lots of legwork. Here's how to launch a job search that will put you on the path to getting the career opportunity you've always wanted.
Research the companies you want to work for: Maybe you put a company on your wish list because it's newsworthy and a market leader — but you need to uncover more background before you get serious about applying for jobs there. Read the company's blog and visit its LinkedIn Company Page to get a sense of its work atmosphere, mission and goals, and plans for the future. Does their vision fit into your career plans?
You can also use the research process to find opportunities for hiring. For instance, blog posts or LinkedIn group discussions may yield information about mergers or expansion plans that may lead to discovering more job openings.
Focus your job search (but be flexible): You may have several dream companies on your list, but you'll get more out of your search and your efforts if you narrow down the list to just a few. Also keep an open mind when considering which departments or positions you'll consider applying to. For instance, if your background is in marketing, research open positions in public relations, executive communications, and sales as well as marketing.
You should also consider applying for positions that may be horizontal moves, or perhaps even a bit below your current level of experience. It's the “foot in the door” approach — once you're in, you can look for opportunities for advancement inside the business. Be flexible about the title or starting pay you are willing to accept.
Ask for advice: Join LinkedIn groups for companies in your dream list, and look for chances to take part in discussions about job opportunities. Look for active group participants who contribute frequently to discussions and who are known for providing helpful responses. Consider posting your own question about the best ways to break into the business.
Tap into your professional network: Study your LinkedIn network to find out who among your connections may have friends and colleagues at your dream companies. You can do this by searching for LinkedIn members who work at these companies, then seeing how they are connected to your own network. You can then ask your friends or colleagues in common to give you a LinkedIn introduction to the employee.
Alternately, with a premium LinkedIn Job Seeker membership, you can send InMails to people who are not in your own network. Use InMails to reach out to current employees within your targeted companies and specific departments — ask them for advice about breaking into the business, or for referrals to hiring managers and recruiters. You can also send InMails to hiring professionals, and request informational interviews or guidance on applying for open positions.
Customize your LinkedIn profile: If you have narrowed down your search to just a few dream companies — and especially if these companies are in the same industry — refine your LinkedIn profile to address this goal. For example, your profile headline, which appears under your name, is a great place to announce your goal — something like “Seeking New Opportunities in Hospital Administration.”
Or, if you need to be more subtle about your search because of your current job, create a headline along the lines of “Healthcare innovator who's shaking up the industry.” You can also rewrite your profile summary so that it emphasizes the skills and experience that you believe will help you get a job at your dream company.
Remember that if you have an action plan, and you're willing to take the slow and steady approach in your job search, you won't need luck to find a job at your dream company — you'll get there with your own smart job search strategies.