You’ve probably grown tired of hearing about the importance that connections play in finding a new job. It can be frustrating advice if you don’t have a robust network that delivers the leads that interest you. That’s why I recommend focusing your job-search efforts first, then building your network around your targeted job-search strategy. Here’s my simple four-step process for connecting with hiring managers and finding a new job.

1. Focus your job search on companies that need your expertise.

If you’re not bound by a noncompete agreement, choose businesses that are competitors to previous employers, where your credentials logically transfer in hiring managers’ minds and where your knowledge is viewed as an asset. Organizations that are familiar with your previous employer may be more likely to view your past affiliation as an asset and more likely to envision how you will enhance their company’s performance. You might also want to consider organizations at a tier below your most recent employer, as they will likely express interest in a candidate from a bigger firm.

2. Develop customized written and verbal communications.

To grab prospective employers’ attention, all of your communications with them—your r