Job Search Tips: Defining Your Target Market

By Michaela Partridge

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One of the most important, and neglected, aspects of a job search is defining the group of organisations you plan to pursue in your job search - your Target Market.

To understand the value of defining a Target Market look at your job search project as if it were a sales and marketing endeavour.  If you were planning to introduce a new product, you would first need to identify the group of customers who would most likely need and purchase your product in order to focus your sales and marketing efforts. You would define that group using demographic factors such as age, income, gender etc.

The same is true in a job search.  Your Target Market will be defined by factors such as size, location and the culture of the organisation.  You will need to consider the following questions:-

  • Which organisations are highly regarded in my particular profession?
  • Which organisations have cultures that are most compatible with my own values?
  • Which organisations are currently working on problems and issues that are of interest to me and compatible with my skills?

Carefully defining your Target Market increases your odds of more quickly finding an organisation in which you will be happy.  Focusing on organisations you have handpicked provides the additional advantage that your authentic interest in these organisations makes you a more appealing candidate.

Here are some tips to think about when developing your Target Market …

Tip 1. Keep your Target Market big enough but manageable

Many people initially underestimate the number of targets they need for a successful search.  Data collected indicates that the average person in search talks to 20 to 30 different hiring managers.

If your Target Market is not large enough, you stand a chance of reducing your odds of success.  On the other hand, having a Target Market that is too large can also present problems.  People with hundreds of possibilities often run a search that is too diffuse and difficult to manage.

Tip 2. Where will you be happy working?

In defining your Target Market, ask yourself two questions:

1. What organisations are likely to be interested in someone like me?

2. What organisations am I most interested in joining?

Focusing your efforts on organisations that are most likely to be interested in someone like you increases your odds of landing a job more quickly.  Focusing on organisations you like increases your enthusiasm in the job search and, ultimately, the odds of you having greater satisfaction in your work.

Tip 3. Focus your target list

Once you have defined your Target Market, you need to make a list of the top 20 - 30 most desirable targets in that market.  A clearly defined target list focuses your search by helping you to organise your day-to-day activities. 

With a target list, you will always have answers to the questions:

  • What will I do this week?
  • Who will I talk to?
  • What will I talk about?

People effective in their job search are always researching, talking to and talking about their top targets.  They constantly improve and refine their target list, taking out less desirable targets and focusing energy on the most desirable ones.

Tip 4. Keep talking 

All experts in job search agree that informal conversations or simply talking to people is the single most effective way of locating appropriate new employment. 

What exactly do you say when you are talking to your contacts?  Simply telling them that you are unemployed and/or looking for new employment might limit the conversation and make your contacts uncomfortable.  However, making your target list the central topic of your conversations is not only useful to you it makes your contacts more comfortable.  Your contacts are usually happy to talk about organisations and give you their opinion, especially ones where they have personal experience.  Having conversations about your targeted industries and companies – and their issues and opportunities – can prove to be highly productive for you.  It is a very good way to augment the information you have acquired through your own research. It can also sometimes lead to introductions or referrals to new people.

If you have enjoyed reading this article, it forms part of my Home Study Course that you can download from my website at

Michaela Partridge
Careers Specialist
Work’s A Dream


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