Once upon a time, there was a little girl named Goldilocks. She was unemployed so of course she went for a walk in the forest. Pretty soon, she came upon a job fair. She figured this was a great opportunity to find a job so she walked right in.
Inside the job fair she discovered there were three recruiters with three open positions. (Yes, there were only three recruiters. Gimme a break it’s a job fair in the middle of the woods. How many people did you think would show up?)
Goldilocks was excited. This could be her chance to finally get a great job. She approached the first recruiter about Company XYZ’s open position.
“You have too much experience. You’re overqualified!” the recruiter exclaimed.
So, Goldilocks went to speak to the second recruiter.
“You have too little experience. You’re not qualified for this position” the recruiter said.
So, Goldilocks, by this time frustrated with her job search, approached the last recruiter. Goldilocks took some time to speak with the recruiter about the job opening and was really excited to discover the job was a perfect match for her skills and experience.
“Ahhh, you are just the right type of candidate,” the recruiter said happily.
Goldilocks decided she liked situations that are “just right”. And she never again applied indiscriminately to jobs just to feel productive.
So, is there a moral to this story? You bet. The moral of the story is you should be applying to positions that are a perfect fit for your skills and experience. Of course there may be situations where it is appropriate to apply for a job for which you are overqualified, but as a general rule, don’t waste your time or that of the hiring manager.
Once upon a time, long, long ago it was perfectly acceptable to use the “shotgun method” of searching for employment. You know the shotgun method? Apply to 100 jobs regardless of what they are and at least you’ll get a few interviews and most likely a job. Well once upon a time men wore powdered wigs and waistcoats but that doesn’t seem like such a good idea anymore does it? Neither is the shotgun method and here’s why.
- According to various sources, the number of applicants for each job opening has reached astonishing proportions. Competition is so fierce that some companies report 70 applicants for each open position. Career coach, Phil Rosenberg’s estimate is a little higher…an average of 1000 applicants per job.
- The internet has made it simple for job seekers to distribute their resumes. Hiring companies are now swamped in a pool of generic resumes from people all over the world.
- Using the shotgun approach makes you appear desperate to the companies you interact with.
- The longer your misguided job search continues without a response, the more disillusioned and discouraged you will become.
- The longer your job search, the more difficult will be to deal with the career gap on your resume and in job interviews.
So if you shouldn’t apply to job simply because they’re hiring and you need a job what criteria should you use?
Follow Goldilocks’ example and search for a job that is “just right” for you. The Goldilocks Principle states that something must fall within certain margins, as opposed to either extreme. So look at the spectrum of potential jobs and ignore the jobs that don’t fall in that “just right” zone.
Here are some tips to help you find a job that is just right:
- Know what you want. What is your ideal job description? What does the perfect employer look like to you? Determine this upfront and then find positions that match your vision.
- Focus on positions that clearly match your skills, experience, and desired career path.
- Read Sharon Graham’s great article on why the shotgun approach will eventually backfire.
- Customize your resume and cover letter for each position you apply for. I know, I know you hear this all the time. So why are you still sending that Microsoft Word template from 1999 to HR professionals all over town?
- Research potential employers. Not just the position you’re interested in but the company culture, new products or services, and other information that can help you determine how you and your skills could fit in.
- Remember that the majority of jobs are not actually advertised. You should be focusing your efforts on relationship building and the hidden job market. Not familiar with the hidden job market? You must have missed the CBS coverage and the CNN story as well. Stop pushing paper pretending to be productive (three times fast anyone?) and talk to people. Like my good friend frequently says, “conversation is the original social media.”
I know some of this may sound counterproductive but consider this. Being selective in your job search will actually help you find a job faster. By filtering out the extreme ends of the employment spectrum you will then be applying to positions where the situation will be an ideal fit for the employer and employee.
Do you love your job because it’s “just right” Are you searching for the perfect job right now? Let us know how it’s going by leaving a comment below.Tweet