Why Your Run-of-the-Mill Job-Search Strategy is Getting You Nowhere
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If you’re limiting your search to major job boards like Monster and Indeed, you probably aren’t making much progress. If you’ve filled out more than 25 job applications or if you can’t keep track of how many applications you’ve submitted, which companies you’ve applied to or who you need to follow up with, you probably also suck at applying for jobs.
Lucky for you, we’ve compiled some tips to help you improve your current job search strategy:
1. Do your research
Most industries and cities have niche job boards and communities dedicated to certain areas of the market. For example, the Public Relations Society of America (PRSA) has a job board dedicated to each city where companies looking to hire PR professionals can post their openings. Sometimes these openings are also posted on major job boards like Monster, but sometimes they aren’t.
By researching and finding these niche communities, you can stay tapped into what’s going on in your industry. You’ll have access to different, more targeted job posts and be able to make valuable connections in your specific market. You’ll also have a leg up on the competition by seeing job postings with a more limited audience.
Ask your professional contacts for suggestions if you’re having trouble finding these niche communities. You can also ask if they know of any job opportunities that would be a good fit for you.
2. Slow your roll
While it can be tempting—especially with form applications and fill-in-the-blank fields—to apply for each and every job you come across that seems like a decent fit, don’t do it.
Although it seems like casting a wide net would be a good job-search strategy, what you’re really doing is akin to “spraying and praying.” You can’t possibly keep track of all of those applications, follow up with every hiring manager or do enough research to impress every single company you’ve applied to if your net is 100 companies wide. Instead, you should…
3. Do more research. Yes, MORE
Take the time to look up each company before you apply for their position. See if they have a company culture that you would work well in. Research the name of the hiring manager and look at his or her Twitter feed. Check out client reviews and testimonials. Click around on the website and make sure you like what you see. Look at your social networks and see if you have any connections who work at the organization.
Not only will this give you a better idea of what it would be like to work there; you’ll also be able to write a much better and more individualized cover letter explaining to the hiring manager exactly what it was that attracted you to the company. Once you’ve done your research and identified companies and opportunities that seem valuable and desirable, you’re ready to move on.
4. Rank your opportunities
Take a look at the jobs and the research you’ve compiled. Rank the opportunities in terms of companies you’d most like to work for, jobs you’d most like to have and positions for which you’re the most qualified. Pick your top 10. These are the jobs you should apply for, not all 50 of the opportunities you found.
5. Track your applications and follow up
The nice part about niche job sites and learning about openings through your network is that you can learn more about the position than you might on the typical job board. Often, major job boards don’t offer any unique information, like the hiring manager’s name or sometimes even the name of the company.
Because you’re using niche boards and doing extra research, you have access to the information necessary to follow up and track your applications. Once you’ve applied to a job, make sure to note the name and contact information for each hiring manager, what date you submitted the application and what date you told them you would follow up. Mark those dates on your calendar—and then follow through. Keep track of all your communications with a particular manager or company to ensure you’re doing all that you can.
By casting a narrower net, you can focus your time and energy on each job. While your resume is great and shows your work experience, you need to show the employer all sides of you to land the position. This includes follow-through, research and initiative—all of which are possible if you use niche communities and job boards to find your opportunities and really dedicate the time and energy to each application.
Follow these tips, and before you know it, you won’t suck at applying for jobs!
Are you doing enough with each job application? What could you do to follow through after you apply for a job?
Amit De is the CEO and Co-Founder of CareerLeaf, a platform that helps job seekers showcase their skills and talents, search for jobs and track and organize communications all from one place. Connect with Amit and CareerLeaf on Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn.
Brazen powers real-time, online events for leading organizations around the world. Our lifestyle and career blog, Brazen Life, offers fun and edgy ideas for ambitious professionals navigating the changing world of work.