It’s a job seeker’s market right now, so you might feel like you have a dazzling array of options. But that doesn’t mean you should chase down every job. In fact, narrowing down your job search early in the process will help it be more effective and efficient in the long run — and it could help you get a better job.
“It’s always better to be targeted” in your job search, says Lori Rassas, an HR consultant, employment lawyer and author of “The Perpetual Paycheck.”
Here’s how to bring some focus to your next job search.
It can be tempting to send out as many applications as possible, especially if you’re really desperate for a new job. But this “spray and pray” approach, as Rassas calls it, isn’t a good strategy. “People who do this feel good about it because they’re busy and may feel like they’ve accomplished something, but that approach isn’t targeted,” she says.
Just because you can do a job doesn’t mean you should apply for it, Rassas says. Even if you were to get it, you’ll already be on the lookout for something better — and employers can pick up on that. Instead, focus your attention on the jobs where you know your skills are a great match and you’d be excited to work at that organization.
Even in tight labor markets, employers still write job descriptions and then look for a “Cinderella” fit when the applications come in, Rassas says. They would love to find candidates who meet every specification, so part of narrowing down your search means matching the education, skills and experience on your resume to what the company is looking for as closely as possible, and discarding possibilities that aren’t a good match.
That includes researching the company’s culture to determine if you’d likely fit in, Rassas says. The more information you have, the better you can assess the likely match.
People apply to new jobs for all sorts of reasons, Rassas says: The opening is for your dream job, you have bills to pay, and so on. But when you’re trying to land a new job, it’s best not to focus on your reasons for looking — it’s about what you can do for the employer.
If you can’t make a strong case for why your skills and experiences can get results at a particular employer, that might be a sign to put that application aside for now. Instead, focus on the employers that look like a good fit for the kinds of results you’ve gotten in similar roles, and highlight those achievements in your application.
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