(2-minute read)

The job market was tough this summer. If you have been looking for work, this will not be surprising. The good news is that the indicators show the job market will return this fall, tan, rested and ready for job seekers.

Over the past four months, I spoke with many employers and job seekers. There was a fair amount of frustration on both sides – employers seeking unicorn candidates with the perfect combination of skills, competencies and ambition – and job seekers who were led on unnecessarily long and involved multi-interview processes. The result was time that could have been better spent for all.

Fortunately, there appears to be learning. Many employers I’ve spoken with are working to streamline hiring practices to make the interview process more efficient and effective. Job seekers are going into the fall more savvy and better prepared.

If you are looking for new work, what follows is the distillation of conversations from the past few months presented as a game plan for getting organized and out ahead of the fall hiring surge.

If you want to land a job this fall and take away only one thing from this article, there are more effective options than the strategy of pray and spray*. Applying randomly to an open position because it’s open has little chance of success. Targeted research and outreach and a clear networking strategy are more effective uses of your time.


Research like you’re writing a paper

Be curious. Read annual reports, CEO speeches, PR statements, and news coverage of companies that interest you.

If you want to work at an organization, you must read as much as possible to develop a compelling and thoughtful point of view on its overall business. Develop a target list of exciting companies and have a point of view on each, not just the open position.


Position yourself as an asset worth acquiring

The cost of money is high, and companies want to ensure they are making prudent investments. This holds true up and down the company spending line, from procurement to the People team. If you’re going to work at a company on your target list, you’ll need a clear and articulated value proposition about why you are a good investment. The skills you bring, the culture you’ll enhance and how the work you will perform will contribute to a company’s bottom line. The closer you can connect your function to revenue generation, the more valuable you will be. Connect your why with their need.


Strategize like you’re a general

In addition to a value proposition, develop a frontal strategy for the organizations on your target list. That means connecting with company officers on LinkedIn, writing LinkedIn posts about your point of view for your chosen field and becoming a known entity. We’ll talk more about this in the networking section.

But don’t just rely on your target list. Develop contingency plans for expanding your search to the fields adjacent to your initial search. For example, if you’ve been working in fintech, consider expanding your search to vendors, other SaaS companies or even the capitalization side of the business.

The time spent developing your strategy will keep you on track and open to spotting opportunities.


Network like a born connector

Many people don’t like to network; they are shy or feel they bother the other person. Other people are born connectors, those who love connecting with people.

Two things separate connectors from the rest of us: curiosity and a willingness to offer help.

If you approach networking as a collaborative conversation, people will want to talk with you repeatedly and help you. You’ll also be more memorable, making it easier for your connection to pass you along to a colleague. Using your target list of organizations as a guide, sort your network from highest to lowest potential and set up meetings.


Communicate from your heart

If you don’t love the company with an open position, don’t waste your time and theirs by applying.

Employers know who is passionate and who is not; one glaring indicator is a Chat GPT-generated cover letter. If you can’t articulate specifically why you are the right candidate and why you’re excited about the role in your own words, you’re not.

The bottom line is that this is a time to be thoughtful, strategic and clear. Job seeking is stressful enough. Take the time to do the prep work so you can control the process and find a place to call home for a long time.



Thank you for Reading!

If this was helpful, sign up here for a monthly read.