Information is power. Superior information can separate you from other candidates, it can help you brand yourself as the superior candidate, and you can use superior information to make up for other gaps in your experience (including education).
Superior information is a great way for a candidate to win at job search.
When most job seekers think of research, they think of Google, Company websites, Company financial statements, Company directories and reference books. These research sources are chock full of information that’s at least a year old.
While these sources are fine for understanding what has already happened at a company, they aren’t adequate for learning about what’s happening now and what a company is preparing for in the future.
As a job seeker, what do you think is more valuable information:
Where a company has been?
… or where a company is going?
If you want to just stick with research about where a company has been, Google and company websites will work fine for you. You’ll have about the same information as everyone else, so you’ll have to find a different way to stand out, and just hope it will be important to your target company.
For those of you who realize that past information has only limited usefulness, let’s look at the types of research can make a big difference in your job search.
Anticipatory Hiring Research
Let’s start with research that shows you which companies are hiring … before they actually start hiring.
Why would you want this information?
These are the companies that should be on your target list – companies who have strong hiring budgets, who plan on hiring many people in the coming year. How can you find anticipatory hiring organizations?
The first place many people search is Google, but Google isn’t organized in a way that makes it easy to find companies who announce hiring plans. There are far too many ways companies describe future hiring plans to make them easy to find through Google.
There’s a better alternative … job boards.
But this type of job board search is very different than the job board search you’re used to. You’re used to searching for a specific job and seeing which companies are advertising for that job. That might give you immediate company needs, but this listing is lumps you in with all of the competition that’s out there – an average 1,000 other candidates vying for the same job … really lousy odds.
In this type of job board search, your goal is to find companies who are likely to have big future hiring plans. By anticipating hiring plans, you’ll know which companies to start networking with, before the job you want is advertised.
Companies who are hiring in one area have a high likelihood that they will be hiring in other areas in the future. Organizations stagger hiring – no organization wants to absorb the cost or workload of starting all their new employees in January. Can you imagine what a nightmare that would be for HR and for management? Plus, think of what that would do to an organization’s budget if everyone was hired in January.
Staggered hiring is good news for you because you can find signals from companies who are planning to hire through job boards, before they advertise for that job.
Heavy hiring in one area shows that the company has committed to expanding, but very few companies can just expand in one area alone. For example, if a company is expanding its sales force, it’s probably trying to increase sales (duh!). If the company is planning for increased sales, they also have to plan for the following:
- Increased manufacturing: The company has to produce more products to satisfy more sales, right?
- Increased customer service: More sales will equal more customer service issues.
- Increased accounting/finance: More sales will equal more transactions, more employees will equal higher payroll.
- Increased staff roles: More sales (and profits) will allow the company to expand staff roles in areas like Marketing, Engineering, IT, HR, Planning/Administration.
If the company is expanding accounting/finance, the company is likely trying to cut costs. Companies who are trying to cut costs also tend to hire:
- Engineers: To design improvements in manufacturing processes
- IT: To design improvements in business (and manufacturing) processes
- Specialists: In other areas, with experience in cost cutting
To find these companies, you’ll want to search job boards for companies who have the greatest number of job ads listed … regardless of the job. Then take the following steps:
- Make two lists: Local and National – even if you are only looking locally, still make a national list. I’ll show you what to do with the national list below.
- Rank companies based on the total number of job ads open – I recommend listing the top 50 in your area, top 30 nationally. Don’t worry, we’ll cut that list down.
- Drop the companies that aren’t in your industry – local and national.
- If you don’t have enough local companies after you’ve screened for geography and industry, go to the national list and include local competitors to national top hiring companies. Local competitors are likely to respond to increased competition from national expansion companies.
- If you still don’t have enough local companies, expand to local vendors and service providers of companies who are expanding (Google can come in handy here).
- Goal: 40 – 50 local companies for your target list. If you’re open geographically, then your definition of local could expand to the US (or maybe the world).
- Try to gain an understanding of hiring organization’s goals, based on types of jobs being hired (now) – Goals could include increasing revenue or cutting costs. By gaining insight to goals, you can better anticipate the types of jobs that will be needed by the organization in the near future.
The keys to using job board research to anticipate hiring include being able to expand your search to competitors and vendors/suppliers.
Note: If you’re in government employee or a teacher, you’ve realized that this article doesn’t apply to you. Stay tuned for future articles in this series that will discuss anticipatory research relevant to you.-------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
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