In this economy, just showing up no longer counts. Jobs are no longer doled out to those who meet the qualifications. Instead, they’re given to those that are the most qualified and the best prepared, and those who prove that they want it the most.
In other words, don’t start the job hunting process unless you’re willing to make it your goal to end up in a hiring manager’s short list — the top three candidates of all the people who applied for a given job — every single time. Tall order? Maybe. Achievable? Absolutely.
So what can you do today that will make an immediate and positive impact on your job hunt? Start refining the jobs you’re going to apply for.
When job candidates come into our office, we always ask what jobs they’re applying to. Nine out of ten times, the candidate has virtually no strategy around their company selection. Many can’t even remember where they’ve already applied. While this chaos and inability to focus may be caused by the ease of one-click applying, there is a better way.
Stop and seriously consider each role before you hit “Apply.” Do you really have a shot at it or is the job a mismatch with your skill set and previous experience? If it’s the latter, keep digging and networking. You want to start training your brain to focus solely on potential jobs where you know you not only have an excellent chance of securing an interview, but of being short listed for final rounds. Once you start evaluating positions based on your ability to make it onto the short list, your job search will become much more efficient.
Also, don’t get discouraged if you make it to the late rounds but don’t ultimately get the offer. Making it into the top three is a feat in itself.
Also, don’t get discouraged if you make it to the late rounds but don’t ultimately get the offer. Making it into the top three is a feat in itself. Once you’re in the final round, it’s as if a brand new interview process starts — one that’s based much more on personality, company fit, and how much you click with the hiring manager. And even if you don’t land the offer, the company will still have you on file and will likely call you if a similar position opens up.
The lesson here is that you can’t win every time, but if you interview well, you’ve done some good work that might just benefit you down the line.
In order to get laser-focused on your job search, you’ll need to create a spreadsheet to track your progress. It may sound daunting, but we’ll break it down into easy steps. Here’s how to get started.
Create a spreadsheet called “Target Companies” in Excel or Google Docs
- Column A = Target Company
- Column B = Target Title
- Column C = Date Applied
- Column D = Priority
Note: We’ll be adding to this spreadsheet throughout the program.
List the last 20 jobs you’ve applied to or have your eye on.
Only fill in columns A, B and C. This shouldn’t take more than about 30 minutes.
Go to the Priority column (“D”) and assign a rank to each job from 1 to 5, with #1 being the one you believe you have the best chance of landing based on how much your professional chops match the company’s needs. If you find any jobs on the list that you can’t legitimately see yourself landing, assign them a zero.
Sort by priority
What jobs made it to the top of your list? Are you excited about them? Do you believe that you have a better than average chance of making it onto a hiring manager’s short list based on the qualifications assigned to the role? If so, you’re in a good place to continue on. If not, you should be honest with yourself and try this exercise again with more realistic jobs. This isn’t to say that you can’t have an occasional stretch position on your list. You certainly can and should, but every job can’t be a long shot.
Over the next month, challenge yourself to re-prioritize each time you apply to a new job. Spend 80% of your time focusing on the 20% of the jobs you can land and excel at. Soon you’ll naturally begin to narrow down that enormous list of jobs from long shots to sure shots.
Do the critical prep work worthy of the “best you” and pick the roles where you know you can actually make it to the end. It’ll be a huge boost on your job hunting confidence when you start scoring interviews, time after time.
Hunting for a job on the Internet can be incredibly overwhelming. We’ll teach you how to navigate through the job sites effectively.
28 Days to a New Job is a month-long Hired Guns course designed to help you maximize your competitiveness in the current job market. Learn the secrets to getting a job from hiring managers, recruiters, negotiation experts and more. Read our our introductory post here. Or Subscribe Now to receive 28 Days to a New Job as a daily email.