The job search process is challenging and can become difficult if you don’t have a plan and specific systems in place to help you. Using a systematic approach with repeatable steps makes the process much easier and more effective.
After you’ve done a self assessment to understand what your career objectives are and have determined your job search goal, the next step in the job search process is to begin researching potential employers. This task becomes easier if you have a template to follow. The purpose of an Account Profile Template is to provide some structure for researching a potential employer in order to put together a strategy to pursue them. Using the same structure and process for each employer will make this process more efficient and effective.
The first step in the account planning process is researching the account. This will enable you to communicate to the account that you know their business and enable you to position your talents, skills and experience in the context of their business initiatives and priorities. This in itself will increase your chances to get the job.
The second and most important step in the account planning process is to develop the account strategy and action plan. This will guide you through the job application process and enable you to work the plan in a systematic manner. It will also help you to recognize when the application process is stalled and when you need to take action to move it to the next step. Finally, it will act as a gauge to keep you on track toward getting the job.
Finally, you will need to execute the plan. Having a plan in place will make it easier to move the potential employer through the hiring process. It will also help you to assemble the resources you need to get the job. These resources include customizing your resume’ and cover letter to match the job requirements, lining up references pertinent to the position you are applying for and collecting other pieces of information the employer may request. You will be able to be more pro-active in assembling these resources and presenting them to the employer at the right time rather than reactive and waiting for the customer to request the information.
The key to using this template is that you don’t need to follow it line-by-line. Only gather the information you’ll need to engage the employer and develop the account plan. Spending too much time researching the account is as harmful as not spending enough time. You can always go back and collect any missing information when it becomes apparent that you need it to move to the next action item. Conversely, don’t skip the research portion or minimize it. You’ll need this in order to develop a successful account plan.
Some of the resources you’ll need are provided as hyperlinks within the Account Planning Template. There are many more available. As you discover additional resources you may want to save them somewhere in the template.
The purpose of this section is to develop a general understanding of the account, the industry it is a part of and its relative position in the industry. This information can be obtained from the company’s web site, its annual report (if it is a public company) Wikipedia and other sites like Yahoo or Google. You can find information about smaller or private companies using the Better Business Bureau’s web site or the local Chamber of Commerce site.
Overview (1-2 sentences which describe the company)
Industry & Position
Years in Business
Locations (You’re interested in working at)
Annual Revenue & Trends (expanding, contracting, etc…)
Number of Employees
Products & Services They Provide
Customers (Key customers for them and ones that we may currently work with)
Competition (Do you know any of them?)
This section will help you understand how the company is doing and what actions it may be taking to improve its performance. Pay special attention to what aspects of its financial performance it emphasizes (revenue, income, cash flow, etc.) This will help you position SMS offerings in a context that is meaningful to them. Sources for this information include the company’s financial reports and some of the sources noted in the previous section.
Growing or Contracting?
The information you uncover in this part of the profile will help you discover what they are focused on and what is important to the company. This will help you discover who you should target and what your messaging should be. For example, if the company is focused on growth, demonstrate how your services can help them reach this goal. Sources for this information include financial publications such as BusinessWeek and industry specific trade journals.
Market Initiatives (What do they say about how they’re approaching the market?)
Financial Objectives (Sales, Revenue, Profits, ROI, Share Holder Equity, etc…)
Corporate Culture (What is important to them?)
Once you have completed the previous sections of the profile, you should already have been able to identify who these people are. Additionally, you should be able to identify which of these you’ll need to target in your job search. If you have no contacts at the account, you may be able to leverage contacts you have who may know the people you are trying to reach in the target account. This information is available on the company web sites, in the financial reports, social media sites such as LinkedIn or Plaxo or by simply Googling the individual. Finally, you should collect information about each of the individuals you plan to target which you can use to customize your message to them, bring up in your communication with them or leverage to get in touch with them.Finally, you should collect information about each of the individuals you plan to target which you can use to customize your message to them, bring up in your communication with them or leverage to get in touch with them. Key individuals include:
Hiring Managers in the Departments You’re Interested in Working For