How to Improve Your Job Search Focus

Like the idea of getting maximum payoff in your job search, with a minimum of wasted time and effort on your part? Read on to discover how to become laser focused in your job search to achieve fantastic results. In my experience, most job hunters understand the value of a job search that is focused and fast, as opposed to one that is broad and leisurely. To accomplish a fast-and-focused job search, it’s essential that you have a clear picture of what you’re aiming for. The following steps will help you define your focused job search goal from among a number of interesting careers. Begin by asking yourself the following:

Ask yourself, “What role am I aiming for in my next position?”

For instance, do you like to lead groups or functions, as a Supervisor, Manager, or Director? Or do you like to execute a specific task, such as an Assembler, Accountant, or Mechanic? Or how about monitoring several activities, as a Project Manager, Coordinator, or Organizer might do? Or is it more your style to create products or processes, as a Designer, Architect, or Engineer? If you’re having trouble articulating your job role, consider these clues:

What roles in interesting careers have you been in before, that you enjoyed? What were your former position titles, and would you want to find similar work?

What skills or talents do you possess that might be translated into a role, such as public speaking (Speaker), teaching (Teacher), or repairing things (Repair Specialist)?

What schooling have you received that qualifies you for a particular role? For instance, have you been trained as an Accountant, Massage Therapist, or Counselor?

Aim to identify one to three roles that would be interesting career targets for your job search, and list those here:




Panic Point! Do you feel as if I’m asking you to put yourself into a box, and you really don’t want to be boxed in? I know from experience that most job hunters don’t like to choose a role focus for their job search. They believe that by keeping their job search broad, they’ll eventually run into a position that is unique and special—one that they never would have imagined for themselves before! Yet the best positions are most often slightly hidden in the job market, and require a more strategic investigation to uncover.

By deciding on a role (or two or three) for your hunt, you’ll be better able to hone in on the opportunities that aren’t as obvious. So even if it makes you squirm a bit, do your best to choose a role or two for your search, keeping in mind that you can modify your focus areas later if you choose.

Which industries are a good fit for the job role you chose?

Let’s say, for instance, that you love to coordinate activities, projects, and people, so you’ve chosen “Coordinator” as one of your job roles. Now ask yourself “What do I like, or am I good at, coordinating?” Maybe it’s events, or newly engineered products, or marketing campaigns. For ideas on where you might want to apply your job role, flip through the yellow pages in your phone book, asking yourself, “Would I like to be a (Teacher, Manager, Accountant, Lawyer, Coordinator, etc.) in this category? Or this one?” As you flip through the directory, make a list of 10 – 20 industries that appeal to you. Have fun with this activity…it can open your mind to many possibilities that you may not have considered before!

Panic Point! If you didn’t like the idea of choosing a job role, because you felt as if it would box you in, then you may dislike the idea of choosing specific industries even more. “I could succeed in any industry,” you may be thinking. “What’s the point of limiting it to just 10 to 20?” While it’s true that you may be able to succeed at working in any industry, it’s nearly impossible to job search effectively in all of them. Do you really have the time to investigate company after company (after company after company…) from among the hundreds or thousands in your area in hopes of uncovering the one interesting career job? My guess is no, you don’t have the time or the interest to do that. By identifying 10 – 20 industries where you’d be most interested in working, you make your job search strategy much more effective and achievable. So give it a go—flip through the yellow pages and choose some categories that look interesting. You may be surprised to find several that are extremely appealing to you, and that don’t make you feel as if I’m trying to box you in when it comes to your job search.

List your 10 – 20 yellow pages industry categories here:

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Combine your chosen job search roles with your selected job search industries.

This is as easy as to adding 1 + 2 = 3. For example, let’s say that you’ve chosen the following job search roles:

Sales Specialist
Marketing Coordinator
Event Organizer

…and these industries:

Advertising Agencies
Day Care Services
Recreation Centers
Home Furnishings
Veterinary Clinics
Nail Salons
Radio Stations

To combine them, simply match a job search role with an industry, and ask yourself, “Could this combination be an effective job search focus for me?” For instance, consider this partial list of 30 potential combinations created by using the roles and industries mentioned above:

Marketing Coordinator, Racetracks
Sales Specialist, Radio Stations
Event Organizer, Advertising Agencies
Sales Specialist, Day Care Services
Marketing Coordinator, Banks
Event Organizer, Home Furnishings

By merging a job search role with industries that interest you, you can quickly create a very powerful and appealing focus—one that will help you attain fast and fabulous job search results!

As a final step, write your top three job search focus areas here:

Role                Industry




To make your chosen job search focus areas even more powerful, also define geographically where you’d like to work—such as within 30 minutes of your house, out of a home office, or in another country—as well as how much income you’re aiming to earn. Identify as many details about your ideal position as possible. Down the line, this vision will allow you to develop and execute a more successful job search plan.

Excerpted and adapted from “Career Coward’s Guide to Job Searching” by Katy Piotrowski, M.Ed.