Questions to ask yourself that will improve your job search strategy
Your resume is ready, and it’s time to start applying for jobs.
What strategy do you pursue?
Let’s think about the job search from a marketing perspective.
If you opened up a new pizzeria next to a subway station, what would be the most effective way of getting people's attention?
1) Passing out 1,000 flyers each morning to the commuters in a rush to get to work
2) Standing outside with a tray of samples during lunch hour – even if you can only pass out 100?
Which jobs you apply to, who you give your resume to, and how you do it can make an incredible difference in your job search.
Are you submitting your resume to as many postings as possible in hopes an interview invitation will follow?
Or are you diligently researching each position, ensuring you meet the criteria provided, and then preparing a custom cover letter to help make your case?
If you're being consistent in applying for jobs and not getting any invitations for interviews, a simple change in strategy can often make all the difference.
Before you start submitting hundreds of job applications on LinkedIn, Monster, and Glassdoor, consider the following:
Do you meet the job posting’s criteria?
Hiring managers spend a lot of time putting together lengthy and specific job descriptions for a reason.
If you clearly don't meet the criteria set out for a given role, you may want to keep looking.
If a company is going to invest time and money to hire someone, there will inevitably be a minimum set of criteria that the person must meet to even be considered.
Would you hire a chef who has never made dough from scratch or used a pizza oven before if you were opening a pizzeria?
The thought process is very much the same in the corporate world.
Let's suppose a company is looking for a Marketing Manager who has:
- 5+ years of experience in search engine optimization and pay-per-click ads
- 2+ years of experience leading a team
- International work experience
- Fluency in Spanish
You shouldn't be surprised if you don’t get a callback if you have only worked as a Marketing Analyst for 1 year, don't speak Spanish, and haven't worked abroad.
Yes – there are sometimes exceptions to the rule, and you should always strive to grow and stretch your capacity.
However, remember to keep your expectations realistic.
Are you interested in the role?
If you aren’t seriously interested in the role and are only applying to “see what happens,” stop now.
If you wouldn’t consider accepting an offer from the company, you’re wasting your time (and the hiring manager’s time).
Did you tailor your application materials?
Most people don’t take the time to prepare a custom cover letter for each position.
By doing so, you’ll be able to demonstrate your interest and instantly stand out.
If you are looking to switch industries altogether, you'll probably want to tailor your resume as well.
How large is the company?
If you’re applying for a role at a small company, see if you can find the contact information for the hiring manager – or even the president – on its website.
Most people won’t email the president to express their interest.
Most people would never think to call the president directly.
At small companies, these individuals are often quite accessible, and your initiative will not go unnoticed.
Do you – or any of your connections – know anyone at the company?
If you know someone or have a LinkedIn connection who works at the company, reach out!
Many large companies have an internal referral program, so even if your connection doesn’t know the hiring manager, he or she may be able to submit your resume through an internal portal.
That way, at least your resume will be flagged as a referral instead of getting lost in the pile of online applications.
Have you consulted your alumni network?
Check your university’s alumni network to see if there is anyone you can contact.
When reaching out to someone new, remember that it may be best to start with a simple phone call or coffee before you ask them for any favors.
If you meet the position's criteria, go out of your way to demonstrate interest, and reach out to the right people, you'll likely be much more successful in your job search.
Online applications are convenient – but if you’re consistently not hearing back, odds are high that the role went to someone who:
- Met the right criteria
- Had a connection at the company
- Put in an unusual amount of effort into perfecting their application
If you continue to have trouble securing interviews or need help preparing for an upcoming interviews, you may also consider working with a career coach.
About Resume Pilots
Resume Pilots is an award-winning executive resume writing firm and a proud member of the Professional Association of Resume Writers and Career Coaches. Our previous clients include CEOs and senior executives at the world's leading companies.
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