If you want to move on to a new role, it is critically important to narrow your job search. Otherwise you will be dropping resumes into black holes, spending too much time tweaking your resume for different positions, and become disorganized. If you’re applying and not hearing anything back or getting the dreaded auto-rejection, please read below and stop wasting your time.

Want to move up in your industry?

1) Do you know what the next logical step is? Sometimes it’s not so clear. If you want to learn more about where people go after the role you’re in, search for people with your same job title on LinkedIn, to see what they do and where they are. You will find people who have moved on from this job title as well.

2) Check out their career trajectory and see if it looks like a good fit for you. Where do people move on to after those roles? What companies do they work for? Are they hiring? What is your desired salary and where does the pay match up?

3) Delve more deeply into those roles by reading job descriptions (closely) and identifying what’s a good fit for you. Target roles where you meet 70% of the job description.

Want to switch industries/roles? You’ve got more work to get there.

1) Ask yourself why you want to switch industries or roles and what roles appeal most to you. Do you want a higher salary? More work/life balance? A new challenge? Write out your goals for the change and what difference they will make in your life.

2) The best way to decide if a path is right for you – besides working with a career coach – is with informational interviews (this means talking to people in those roles.) Identify people who will talk to you who are in the new role or industry. Ask for warm connections through people you already know, who will speak to your strengths when connecting you. 3) Give them great info about you to make the connection: “I’d love to talk to X about their role at Y company. Would you mind connecting us? I’m interested in this role because I have Z strength/expertise and want to apply it to that role.” 4) Come up with 3-4 specific questions for a short conversation or email. Only ask for and take 15 minutes of their time. Remember to send a thank you. 5) When you hit on something you want to pursue, great! Go on to step 3 above “Delve more deeply…”; match your strengths and abilities to the job description and go after the roles you want.

I’d love to answer questions about narrowing the job search in the comments. Let me know if I can be of help.