Job Search Tip of the Week #14 (2017)


How to Conduct a More Productive Job Search

Quality over Quantity

Focus your job search!

What an unfocused job search looks like. When you apply to everything, you won’t really get anything.

Some job seekers believe that the more applications they send out, the more results they’ll receive. Then, they’re disillusioned when they don’t get any calls to schedule an interview. “What’d I do wrong,” they ask, “I should have heard back from someone.”

At the expense of their time and money (Hey, nice résumé paper ain’t cheap!), these job seekers unfortunately learned the hard way, that quantity often comes at the expense of quality.

If you want your job search to yield more positive results, you should first focus your job search. Check out niche job boards (Dice, JustTechJobs, Stack Overflow, and CrunchBoard consist exclusively of IT and technology jobs) in addition to general ones (such as Craigslist, Monster, and Indeed, and use filters and keywords to narrow the search results by required skills, job title, company, location, and employment type.

Then, determine which are the best opportunities for you using the “4-Yes Test.” With each position that piques your interest, ask yourself the following questions in the given order. Only move on to the next question if you answer “yes.” Any job that elicits a “no” is one you shouldn’t apply to.

  1. Can I fulfill the responsibilities? It’s OK not to meet every single technical skill requirement. Think of it as a hiring manager’s wish list of the ideal candidate for the position. If you can do the job, go ahead and apply – just be honest with yourself and know the difference between almost qualified and not even close.
  2. Will this job help me meet my short- and long-term professional goals? Just because you can do the job doesn’t mean you should apply. If you’re not personally invested in the job, you won’t learn or do as much, and your professional development will suffer for it in the long run.
  3. Do I want to work for this company? You’ll need to do some research on the company’s mission and values to more accurately answer this question. And remember: even if this is your dream company, don’t apply to every position they’ve posted in an attempt to find a way in. It conveys desperation, not to mention a lack of focus and awareness of what you’re qualified for.
  4. Would I fit into this organization / Would I be a good cultural fit? You can tell a lot about the work environment and atmosphere from social media posts. Cultural fit has been shown to affect your ability to successfully do your job.

Once you’ve compiled a list of job opportunities that passed the “4-Yes Test,” rank them. To start, focus on applying only to your top five so that you can better manage the follow-up on your submissions.

Finally, focus on the quality of your applications to make every second it’s in a hiring manager’s hands count:

  • Fine-tune your résumé. Customize your objective statement to reflect the job/company you’re applying for. Organize your résumé so that your security clearance (if applicable) and technical purview are clearly featured. Provide the most relevant professional experience which suggests you can successfully fulfill the responsibilities of the position you hope to attain.
  • Write a cover letter for each job that you’re applying to, unless the posting specifically asks that you not include one. If a contact name isn’t given in the job posting, use LinkedIn to find the person who’d most likely be directly supervising you should you get the job (and if that fails, simply address it to “Hiring Manager”). Remember, the cover letter is your opportunity to create a strong case as to why you’re the perfect candidate for that particular job. Tailor your skills and experience to align with the functions of that specific role to make it clear as to why they should hire you.
  • Follow all directions. Two common ones that people choose to ignore:
    • “No phone calls, please” means no phone calls. Follow up with an email a week or two after submitting your application if by then you haven’t heard back.
    • If the job posting specifies something to include in the subject or body of your email or as an attachment, do so. Otherwise your résumé and cover letter may be passed over without being looked at.

Remember: More Selection = Less Rejection! It’s erroneous to think that applying to jobs en masse will get you one faster. You’re more likely to see success if you search smarter, apply selectively, and tailor your application to fit each position and organization.

Blogging Forward,

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Photo Credit: Mikael Miettinen