So many resumes, so few jobs. Let’s face it, job search sucks. Tons of competition, ads for jobs that don’t exist and endless “rabbit holes“. If you’ve leveraged any of the countless online job search sites and submitted your resume for a specific job you are not alone. In fact, there are upwards of several hundred applications for each job posted on a job search site (this is not a misprint). It’s just way too easy to submit your resume even if you are only marginally qualified for the job (tell me you’ve never done this).
So how do you cut through all of the worthless garbage to get to the real jobs? How do you maximize the time you spend looking for a job and minimize the time it takes to land a job? Well I’d be the first to tell you that there is no secret “fast track” to finding a job, but there are lots of things you can do to make your job search more efficient.
Maximize Your Job Applications/Submissions
There are some basic tips you can follow that will help you target your search. Planning and targeting your search should be on the top of your list:
- Leverage your job search plan and focus on your target companies first. No job search plan? Take a look here first: Job Search Planning.
- Only apply for jobs that closely match your experience and/or education. While there will be an urge to apply for jobs that loosely fit your background, this is not the best way to spend your time.
- Don’t waste your time responding to older job listings. Any listing older than two weeks (and possibly even one week) has probably had dozens (and maybe even hundreds) of applications submitted. Focus on all relatively new listings. If you run out of new listings, you can revisit the older listings.
Minimize Your Use of Job Search Boards
-There are hundreds of job search boards/engines on the Internet. Quite a few are useless and there is generally huge overlap across similar sites:
- Use no more than 3-5 job search engines. Any more than that yields a diminishing return. A quick list of top sites to consider can be found here:
- At least one of the sites you use should be career focused (such as a finance or medical job search site).
- Leverage email alerts on the job search sites. Use alternate days or time frames across the sites and create specific targeted searches.
Launch a Marketing Campaign – It’s Not What You Know, It’s What People Think You Know
If you don’t have a job search marketing plan then now is the time to get started. While you will need to put in a little time at the start, a job search marketing plan will help you find your dream job in a shorter period of time:
- What should your plan include? In addition to your resume and cover letter, you should have a list of your targeted companies (where you would like to work).
- A good marketing plan includes an “advertising” campaign. While I’m not suggesting that you place a full page ad in the NY Times, you should ensure that everyone who can help you find a job knows you are looking.
- Take a look at these links and resources to get started: Job Search Marketing Toolkit.
Focus Your Search with Research
You should have a very good idea of where you would like to work prior to starting your search. This includes:
- A list of your dream companies. If you could pick the top 10 companies where you would like to work, which ones would be on your list?
- A list is great, but knowing which companies offer the best career opportunities for you should be one of your core criteria.
- Who wants to work for a crappy company? Make sure you also do research on companies you should avoid and companies that have a great reputation (7 Links to the Best Places to Work – Period)
Maximize Your Network
I’m sure you’ve heard it before, but your network is your best tool in your job search. These are people who know who you are, what you do and how you do it. You should focus at least 25%-50% of your time on leveraging your network in your job search and targeting your time as follows:
- Focus on those in your network who are in your field and can provide introductions and leads
- “Friend of a friend” works really well in job search. Who in your network knows someone that can help you? Find out and cultivate those relationships
- Remember your list of dream companies from the topic above? Now is the time to leverage those in your network who can help you land a job at your dream company
Like everything else, job search is a process. Remain focused and follow the tips above to maximize your search.
Good luck in your search.