The fewer jobs you apply for, the better your job search.
The classic way of looking at job search is to say that it’s a “numbers game”, where if you send your resume to enough companies, you’ll eventually find an employer who will hire you.
Also called “resume blasting” because you’re shooting your resume at so many people, or “the shotgun approach,” because you’re scattering resumes in many directions like shotgun pellets, this strategy does work, otherwise it would never have become classic.
But it’s horribly inefficient and for most job seekers, it can be brutal. Maybe it should be called “the shotgun approach” because of the pain it causes.
Going down this route usually leads to dozens – even hundreds – of your resumes not being responded to, with morale and hope fading over time on one hand, while other pressures (financial, family, etc.) continue to grow on the other, to the point where you have to accept the first offer you get.
There is a much better way.
Here’s why you should focus on trying to apply to as few companies as possible:
Smart job seekers need to research companies to prepare for job interviews.
Since this research will be necessary, you can save time and get a better return by doing it earlier in your job search.
By doing it earlier in your job search, you’ll discover companies that you actually want to work for.
By focusing on companies you actually want to work for, it will be easier to motivate yourself to target them.By focusing on companies you actually want to work for, it will be easier to motivate yourselfClick To Tweet
By targeting companies aggressively – since you so want to work for them – you will learn what exactly is needed to get hired (such as by asking ex-employees on LinkedIn).
If you know what exactly is needed to get hired, you can follow that blueprint yourself, simplifying your job search.
Having a successful blueprint to follow will boost your confidence in the process and in yourself.
Having more self-confidence will impress contacts and interviewers, and it will shine through as you respond well to questions, being well-prepared as you are since you did your research early on.
Showing how well you were able to know their company from the outside, interviewers are more likely to think that you’ll fit in well on the inside.
And all these things – your decision making, research, self-confidence, targeted motivation and ability to follow the success of others – will make them want you on the inside, resulting in a job offer.
Wash, rinse and repeat to get more offers.
With multiple offers, you can comfortably negotiate from a position of power and make the best choice out of many good choices.
Grow your network as wide as you can, but when it comes to reaching out to employers, shoot as narrowly as possible.
By following the classic wide or “shotgun” approach, you will send out many resumes but ultimately take the first offer for a job you might not want.
By following the narrow or targeted approach, you will send out much fewer resumes and ultimately receive multiple great offers, taking the best offer for a job you want, at a company you want.
Steve Dalton, author of The 2 Hour Job Search, explains how to find 40 companies to work for in 40 minutes, and more. The audio-only interview focuses on MBAs but almost all the advice is relevant to other job seekers too.
Question of the article
Which approach has worked best for you so far? Tell us in the comments.
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