If you’ve been following along thus far, my blog series is detailing the steps I took on my journey to land my dream job at iRelaunch.
As I recounted in my last post, before I even approached iRelaunch, in searching for clarity in the next stage of my career, I wrote my own job description...
“Not only was this liberating and clarifying for me on what it was I wanted to do, but it also helped me focus in on the value that I could bring to the organization since there wasn’t a job posting or description for me to apply for.”
Once I had this clarity for myself of what I now knew I wanted to do, I had to connect the dots to the business objectives that iRelaunch, the organization needed to achieve. To accomplish this, I needed to do
extensive research into the “world of iRelaunch” to understand several
important aspects: the mission, the business, the team and the external
environment. While it’s impossible to fully understand the dynamics of
each of these elements until you’re immersed and integrated into an
organization, performing thorough research is the best way to learn how you might strategically position yourself to a prospective employer.
Researching The Mission
It is one thing to read a company’s mission statement, it’s another thing entirely to have a sense of how they go about accomplishing that mission. My last post highlighted some elements of this approach: from combing through the Return to Work Roadmap, to reading blog posts (that I hoped someday I would later write!), and listening to all of the advice on the 3, 2, 1 iRelaunch podcast.
I consumed as much iRelaunch content that I could find...I signed up for the newsletter, followed press releases and updates on initiatives iRelaunch was co-leading (and actually read through the emails and links), read white papers and HBR articles, looked at resume examples from Back on the Career Track (affiliate link), followed iRelaunch on Facebook, Instagram, LinkedIn, Twitter, watched all the videos posted on the YouTube channel, attended the conference and reviewed the selected slides and resource guides provided to conference attendees.
This approach fortunately had the dual benefit that I could also
apply the advice I was receiving from iRelaunch in my quest to work for
Researching The Business
Through the lens of consuming iRelaunch content and thought leadership in the career reentry space, I began to piece together a preliminary understanding of their business model and operations. By pouring over the iRelaunch website and social media channels to stay up to date I gained an understanding of the company’s business model and the employer clients and the relauncher community iRelaunch serves. Through my thorough review of the company’s content, I also uncovered important pieces of information like what software and productivity management tools iRelaunch uses most often so I could make sure I had mastered these and they were prominently displayed on my resume.
As part of my larger strategy and unique value proposition, I also began researching iRelaunch’s presence and impact in my local market, identifying industries and prospective opportunities to develop. (Pro tip: I leveraged both my growing network and resources and databases available to me through my alma mater such as Hoovers, ABI/INFORM Complete, Business Insights: Global, Business Source Complete, Google Scholar, EBSCOhost, to facilitate some of this research.)
Finally, don’t overlook researching the board of directors or board
of advisors. I took some time to review the biographies and LinkedIn
profiles ofiRelaunch’s Advisory Boardand
became familiar with their careers, any relevant books or commentary
they authored, especially if that content was featured through one of
iRelaunch’s marketing channels.
Researching The Team
The understanding I gained of iRelaunch’s business model through my
research was important. I had to figure out how to take the results of
all of my self-reflection exercises from my career clarity stage,
analyze the goals and objectives of iRelaunch as an organization now
that I had a handle on their mission and business model and ultimately
pitch why and how I was the best person to help get the organization
there and for a job that didn’t even exist!
This required another element of research, this time with the focus on the iRelaunch team members. Out of a respect for privacy and so I didn’t set off any stalker-esque alarm bells, I limited the scope of this research only to the iRelaunch team site and each team member’s LinkedIn profile.
I became familiar with the function and responsibility of each team member as well as their background and strengths were (at least ‘on paper’) and evaluated with a critical lens what gaps might exist, or at the very least how my skill sets could be complementary or supplementary to iRelaunch’s small team. Once I determined this, it also helped me focus on what further education and certifications I should pursue to make myself an even more marketable and attractive candidate (which for my case ended up being a Senior Professional in Human Resources designation - more on that part of the journey in my next blog post!)
Researching The External Environment
While these previously outlined areas may be where most job seekers choose to focus your company research on, there are a few other dimensions that some people overlook.
It’s important to also take a step back from looking only at the company’s mission, business models and operations to look at the overall business landscape and external factors and industry trends that are at play. Spend some time doing some research on topics that may not be at the forefront of the organization’s focus but that are adjacent to or overlap only slightly with the issues they are facing. Your “outside-in” perspective and critiques may prove useful or especially insightful to draw on during an interview. Companies will appreciate your fresh set of eyes and thoughtful analysis, as well as bringing any innovative ideas to the forefront, so be prepared to over-deliver in this regard.
In a similar vein, I needed to build credibility and authority in the industry by expanding my network to like-minded people and organizations within iRelaunch’s orbit. Despite being squarely in the Millennial demographic, I had not yet adopted Twitter as a platform I needed to be on, so I created a page and while it still intimidates me to “join in,”I at least followed the conversations that were going on. I identified thought leaders I admired and other voices active in the industry through listening to podcasts and researching past iRelaunch conference speakers. I began to follow these leaders on social media, listening to their thoughts about the industry, reaching out for informational interviews or merely just to express my appreciation for their advice and guidance they had provided through iRelaunch’s channels.
My next blog post will talk about how to pull everything together: how to rely on your personal self-reflection and envisioning exercises, how to leverage the various dimensions of your research to create a unique value proposition that is reflected in your resume, LinkedIn profile and personal brand.
Books (affiliate links)
- Disrupt Yourself by Whitney Johnson (Chapter 1 - Take the Right Risks)
- Build Your Dream Network
- Remote (if your prospective employer is fully remote regardless of COVID or not)
- Work Pause Thrive (specific to my industry research for iRelaunch)