Study the Market

Understand what is available in your market. What is the business and competitive landscape? Who is hiring? What type of roles and skills are in demand? How are job descriptions worded? Sign up for job posting alerts (e.g., LinkedIn, The Ladders, company websites, etc.) to monitor market activity over time. There is a wealth of information available online that can help you get a sense of the market, and just seeing what is available will help you align and target better.

Determine the Ideal

Develop a perspective of your optimal job profile. What are the ideal job characteristics? What does an average day look like? What personal differentiators or constraints do you have to consider? Think about job basics as well as cosmetics (e.g., work environment, travel requirements, ways of working, etc.). Consider how you would write your own job description. This will help you identify job characteristics that are important and help you evaluate pros and cons.

Focus your Connections

Target actual decision-makers. What is the best path to the person(s) making a hiring decision? Who are the gatekeepers? How meaningful are the interactions along the way? Seek specific professional interactions. Avoid recruiters with generic, poorly-worded, let’s-have-a-chat solicitations. A simple path is: a company recruiter with a specific role to fill connects with you through LinkedIn (based on experience match) and then screens you to the hiring manager. This gets you into the discussion quickly.

Tell the Value Story

Articulate the value you bring to the role. Why are your skills so valuable to the hiring team? What do you have that will make others’ work life easier? How will you positively impact financial performance? Polish your job profiles and social media presences, and have your experience detailed to highlight the areas of interest to you. Same for resumes or portfolios, but of course those should be customized even further to each job you consider. Focus more on the succinct stories of value you provided than the ‘label’ of prior titles or internal jargon. Consider what you would do in the role if you had no one to tell you what to do. If you’re confident with that, share it.

Make a Decision

Analyze and decide the path forward. What are your options? What are the trade-offs of each? What is most important to your work-life? Consider your gut feel in addition to any rigorous analysis. Evaluate trade-offs within and across opportunities. Remember that not making a decision is actually making a decision to continue the status quo. Just going through the evaluation process is enlightening.