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Caroline Wakelin Profile Image

Caroline Wakelin

SFU Staff
Beedie School of Business
Co-operative Education

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Take five minutes and think about people in your life who work in the field or industry in which you are interested. You’d be amazed at the contacts you already have once you really start thinking about it.

Step One: Make a List of Dream Employers

You’ve graduated and you don’t have a job lined up. Every time well-meaning friends and family members ask you “now what?” you get a panicky feeling and don’t know what to say. When you Google search “how to find a job” 60 million results come back and the advice is an overwhelming, jumble of vague truisms such as: “focus your job search”, “make contacts in your field”, “make sure you have a LinkedIn profile”, and “be persistent”. This type of information leads to more panic as you are left wondering how to focus your job search, who to contact when you don’t know anyone, what to put in your LinkedIn profile and how persistent should you be without being annoying?

A recent book titled The 2-hour Job Search by Steve Dalton, Senior Career Consultant and Associate Director of Duke University’s Fuqua School of Business sets out to answer these questions as he lays out a systematic and efficient formula for securing an interview with your dream employer. His humour, knowledge of human behaviour and creative use of technology are what make this book a fun, fast, useful read for any job seeker.  Dalton’s method combined with other job search strategy tips. I will share will give you the tools you need to get you the job you want. The strategies can be broken into three steps:

Step 1: Make a List of Dream Employers

Step 2: How to Contact your Employers

Step 3: The Informational Interview

But before you start Steps 1-3 you’ll need to know what skills you have and whether they match the skills your employers are looking for. If there are gaps then identify ways you can improve your skillset and your employability. For example, you might be able to close your skill gaps by picking up some volunteer work or taking a night course in a software program you don’t have.  

Step 1: Make a List of Dream Employers

Take five minutes and think about people in your life who work in the field or industry in which you are interested. You’d be amazed at the contacts you already have once you really start thinking about it. Your friends, your friends’ parents, friends of friends, family members, professors, TA’s, Co-op employers, people with whom you volunteer – these are all potential leads for your job search.

Once you have thought about all the people you know then you need to organize this information as this is material you will be referring to often as you move towards securing your dream job. This is where Dalton’s strategies come into play.

Dalton talks about creating a list of 40 employers using what he calls the LAMP method. LAMP stands for List, Alumni, Motivation and Posting. Dalton tells job seekers to break down these 40 employers into 10 dream employers, 10 alumni employers, 10 employers with available job openings, and 10 employers that are “trending”. To find employers that are “trending” all you do is Google the industry or job position you want with the word “trends”. What will come up is a series of articles on companies that are doing new or interesting things. You’ll learn which sectors are hiring, where and how the market is changing and other important information that can be very helpful not only for finding up and coming employers, but can make for good conversation starters at networking events and during an interview.

Once you have your 40 employers you list them in a table like this (ignore the numbers for now):







Proctor and Gamble



















With your list complete your next step is to search LinkedIn for alumni at each of your chosen organizations and write either a “Y” for yes or an “N” for No in the Alumni column. I have added Friends/Family to this column as a friend or family member is even more valuable than an alumnus to your job search.

If you don’t have a LinkedIn profile yet, or if you want to make the best use of this powerful social media tool learn how to make the most of your online presence.

Once you’ve completed the Friends/Family/Alumni column you move on to the Motivation column. Here you assign a score of 1-5 assessing your motivation to approach each employer. Award a “5” to your most desirable (“dream employer”) and a "1" for a company in which you are completely unfamiliar. To complete the Posting column, search job websites such as and see if the company is currently hiring. Score this column by using a scale of "1" (no employer job postings) to 3 (the employer has a job posting and in a position you want).

After you have rated all your employers using the criteria above you sort your LAMP List in this order:

  • Motivation (largest to smallest)
  • Posting (largest to smallest)
  • Alumni (reverse alphabetically, or Z-A)

With Step 1 completed, you can move on to Step 2: How to Contact your Employers. Step 2 looks at how to reach out to potential contacts and land an informational interview.

  • Caroline Wakelin Jun 18, 2013
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Caroline Wakelin Profile Image

Caroline Wakelin

SFU Staff
Beedie School of Business
Co-operative Education

Posts by Author

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