In the first article in this series, we talked about the looming recession and the importance of getting your career ready for the disruption.

We discussed that the first step in doing this was to dig deep to understand more about yourself and the job market you are interested in. Now we need to focus on finding that dream job within the market.

This material is part of our Course: Start your New Career Strategy: How to Land that Dream Job

Define your job market with a Job Market Matrix (JMM)

First, you need to divide the job market into segments. To do this, create a Job Market Matrix using the template below. This simply shows the types of jobs that you are interested in along the top and the organization types (or actual names of companies if you prefer) along the side. Examples of organization types are Global Social Media Companies, Small Law Firms, National Hotel Chains, etc. Make sure that you carefully choose the jobs and organizations that you are interested in and who will (at some point) be interested in you.

You will note that the template above also includes the Function/Area of the interviewer(s) and who the Recruitment Decision Makers are. For a local law firm, the recruiting Function/Area would probably be The Leadership Team and the Decision Makers could be the Senior Partner plus an External HR Adviser. Knowing this information will help you understand what their needs are for the ideal candidate.

An important conclusion from this template is that it shows all the critical job segments that you are interested in. Every Job-Organization box in that matrix (e.g., Job/Role 1 – Org Type A) is a different job segment.

Now you can, if you wish, play the numbers game and apply for hundreds of jobs. If you have the time, you will vary your application slightly for each job. However, I have never been keen on simply doing what everyone else is doing. In his autobiography, James Khan CBE, the successful British-Pakistani entrepreneur says one of the most important things his father taught him was to “observe the masses and do the opposite.” In many ways, this whole course is about avoiding the mass marketing, soul destroying, repetitive nature of the numbers game and being different. A key part of this difference is being focused.

So, choosing where to compete for a job is critical. In other words, we need to be very selective about which jobs on the Job Market Matrix you focus your efforts on.

Choose the best jobs area for you using a Jobs Portfolio Matrix (JPM)

To help you get the focus right, you can use a magnificent tool called the Jobs Portfolio Matrix (JPM). This tool will also help you visualize your whole career strategy on one page.

Let’s go through it.

On the vertical axis, it asks you to rate how attractive the job will be to you in the future. You need to set you own timescales for the future. If you are a student, you may want to look 10 years ahead. If you are in your 60’s you may want to look only a few years ahead until retirement. The attractiveness is scored against certain criteria. This really means, “How much do I want it?”

On the horizontal axis, it asks how competitive am I compared to other candidates for this job. This really means, “Will I get it?” This axis is scored against the Recruiter Needs. This is why it is useful to know your recruiters in the above Job Market Matrix.

We then have a classic 2 x 2 matrix. Going clockwise through it:

In the top right, we have Star Jobs. These are great future-proof jobs that are attainable to you now. So, these are great jobs for you to apply for immediately.

On the bottom right are Tactical Jobs. These are jobs that you can apply for now but that are not that attractive to you in the long-term. Maybe there are no career progression opportunities or they used to be great but now the whole industry is failing and I am stuck on a sinking ship. However, you can use these for cash or as a career entry point.

On the bottom, left are Problem Jobs. These are unattractive in the long-term and where you have major weaknesses. These are to be avoided. Now, you may already be in one of these jobs. Perhaps it used to be a great job and then a new boss arrived and the whole thing has turned sour with the boss saying you do not fit into the new future. In this case, you need a plan to exit this job and get another job at least where you are seen as competent.

On the top left, we have our Future Jobs. These are great jobs for the future but where we currently are uncompetitive against other candidates. In this case, we could invest in ourselves to improve our competitiveness and drag that job over to the right into the Dream quadrant.

Each of the bubbles is an individual job segment. I have shown just four segments for this matrix. You should include as many as you are interested in but as you can see, the more you have, the more crowded the matrix becomes. You can use the column number and row letter from the JMM as shorthand for each segment label. The size of the bubble is an estimate of how many vacancies there are in the market. Larger bubbles mean more vacancies.

Note that your dream job can sit either in the top left or the top right quadrants – dependent on your competitiveness.

This tool, therefore, asks a very useful question: How competitive am I today for the best jobs of tomorrow?

An Example: David Swift’s JPM

To help us understand how useful this is, I will use the example of David Swift (not his real name) who is an experienced sales executive looking for a new career. He has 15 years of experience working in business development roles (including several years managing big, corporate, key accounts for large firms and lastly doing management consulting work for a small consulting firm). He feels as if his career has reached a dead-end. He now wants to really understand what his purpose is on this planet and forge a new career path to get there

This is how David’s JPM looks.

For David, there are a few important conclusions from this:

First, there are no Star Jobs that he could immediately apply for.

Second, the most attractive job for him, 3C the Business Leader job, sits in the Future Jobs box. So, if he wants to achieve that, he is going to have to do some personal development to improve his competitiveness.

Third, there are two jobs that he has a reasonable chance of getting (1B and 1C), however, they are not as attractive as the 3C job.

Fourth, he can rule out the 1A job. Time and money spent on pursuing this would be wasteful and much better spent pursuing 3C.

It is important to note that the JPM works for anyone, whether you are senior, junior, employed, unemployed or a student.

Investing your time wisely

We have also touched on the very useful concept of Return on Investment (ROI). In business, ROI calculations are made all the time and there are various ways of calculating them. Here, the simple principle is that you have limited time and limited funds so need to invest them both wisely to get the best Career ROI. That means, investing your time and money wisely to increase your chances of getting the most attractive job to you.

Let us assume, for example, that you wanted to be a Famous Internet Celebrity and when you plotted it, it came out as 4D above: very attractive but not too many vacancies and your YouTube Channel only has a few hundred views. You could invest a lot of effort in developing your talent and online presence. However, there is also a big risk in going for this type of job. Very few people make it and many of those drop back into obscurity very quickly.

A better bet would be to work on social media for a big consumer brand. Let us say these jobs are represented as Jobs Segment 1A. This is a bigger job segment and where you only need a little personal development (maybe some experience or a suitable qualification) to make you quite competitive in the market. The risk here is far less.

This does not mean you need to give up on your dream of being a celebrity. What it does mean is that you should not place all your eggs in that one basket. Indeed, you should think of each of these bubbles as bets with some having longer odds than others. You can keep investing small sums in the high-risk, high-reward job segments but you should also invest elsewhere as well to ensure at least one of these bets come off.

You might even invest small sums in Jobs Segment 2B (maybe these are relatively low paid jobs) just to ensure that you can keep going in the short-term while developing your competencies for the long-term.

This is why it is called a Jobs Portfolio Matrix as, like a good stockbroker, you need to have a good portfolio of investments going on to help your career in the future.

See if you can create a Jobs Portfolio Matrix to help you decide where to focus your job hunting efforts. You may find that focusing your hidden talents in an area that really needs them, pays off big time.

In the final Step to this series, we will discuss how to beat all the other candidates to that job by getting your personal brand right.