This is “Three Elements of a Well-Defined Target”, section 3.1 from the book Job Searching in Six Steps (v. 1.0).
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If you glance at a job boardA place where jobs are posted. Most jobs boards are now online, such as Monster, Hotjobs, and Indeed. or classified ad section, you will see hundreds, if not thousands, of job possibilities. Even similar ads, such as job postings for accountants, can list very different descriptions for the job responsibilities, as well as qualifications to get the job. If you don’t have a structure to categorize this very broad job market, you will dilute your efforts wading through too many jobs that are of no interest to you or for which you are not qualified.
Instead, you need a structure that cuts across all of the jobs and is representative of how the employer thinks of the job (since the employer is the one advertising the job). This way, you know what job postings to research. For the searchable online job databases, you can filter specifically with the structure in mind. As you move through the six steps of the job search process, you can tailor each step to the target structure to ensure that you are always keeping the employer’s point of view at the heart of your search.
A well-defined job target includes three elements:
Continuing the example of accounting from the first section, accounting is a function. It is what the person in the job is doing. However, this accountant can be working for a government agency, for a hospital, for an insurance company, for a toy manufacturer, or for a host of other types of companies and organizations. Therefore, accounting is not specific enough—we also need to know the industry (whether government, health care, insurance, etc.). Finally, because people might relocate for a job, we also need to know the geography of our job targets. Are you looking at a specific city only, surrounding suburbs, surrounding cities, multiple states, or even multiple countries?
The industryThe type of business. you target is the type of business in which you want to work. Industries include the following examples:
These are just some examples, and they are of very broad industry categories. You can specify even further into subcategories. You will want to subcategorize because if you pick too broad an industry, you will have the same dilution-of-efforts problem as if you haven’t specified an industry at all.
If you look at the arts, subcategories include the following examples:
It is not enough to say, “I want a job in the arts.” Do you mean visual arts, as in painting or sculpting? Do you mean you’d like to work in a venue, such as a museum or a theater? Do you want to work for educational programs that focus on the arts? Do you want to work in support of artists—at a foundation that gives grants for creative projects, or at an artists’ union? Do you want to be in and around artists, selling or manufacturing art supplies? Finally, you can be in the arts and work for a nonprofit, a private company, or a government agency. Each of these sectors is very different.
In a later section of this chapter, we will give ideas for how to explore different industries and the different subcategories of your industry choices to see what might be right for you. In Chapter 6 on research, we will talk about how to research industries for specific organizations and company names and other information that will help you find the jobs you want. You can see already how useful it can be to focus on being specific. Being specific in describing the jobs you want is necessary to find where those jobs are.
Let’s take another example from the list so you can get more ideas on how to break an industry down. If you look at energy, the following subcategories are included:
If you are interested in energy, you could work for a private company that is involved in many types of energy and at many stages, from exploration to delivery. You could research energy-related issues for a nonprofit. You could be focused on regulations for a government agency. There are multiple, different possibilities for that single energy industry choice.
Finally, let’s look at sports as a possible interest. Perhaps you have been a longtime athlete or a diehard fan. Can you take a personal interest and make it into a career?
If you are interested in sports, you might focus on a specific team or sport and look at different organizations involved with that team. Or you might focus on sports in general—perhaps take on the mission of expanding the spectator base, increasing participation among youth, or determining the impact of sports on culture.
Here is a list of possible subcategories for common industries:
Table 3.1 List of Industry with Examples of Subcategories for Each
|Health care, pharmaceuticals, biotech||
|Hospitality and leisure||
|Media and entertainment||
|Transportation, aerospace, and automotive||
The functionDay-to-day role and responsibilities. of a job refers to your overall responsibility and what you are doing day to day. Examples of job functions follow:
In both of the industry examples for arts and energy, you could be doing many different things within any of the subcategories. If your industry choice leads you to an art museum as a possibility, you might do several things:
In a later section of this chapter, we will give ideas for how to explore different functional areas to see what might be right for you. In Chapter 6 on research, we will talk about how to research functions for information that will help you position yourself appropriately for these jobs. Function and industry build on each other. Knowing one but the not the other is incomplete.
Finally, even if you know what you are doing (function) and who you are doing it for (industry), you need to know where you’ll physically be. Geography is the third element of a well-defined target. How many potential art museums are located in your desired area? If your desired location has few or no art museums, then your search is unrealistic, and you have to expand your industry (to include other types of museums or other types of art-related organizations) or change your geography. If there are art museums in your desired location, but they are all small and do not need the fundraising skills you have, then you need to expand your function (do something else within the art museums) or change your geography. Geography gives you another critical point of focus for your job search.
Aside from physical location, some jobs have another type of geography consideration. You might be targeting a job whose customers, research subjects, or constituents are of a specific geography:
Your job interest may be related to a specific geography, and this definitely should factor in your search. You also must then factor in your physical location.