In today’s technologically driven job market, it’s never been easier or quicker to apply for a position. It’s easier than ever to upload a resume and apply for dozens of jobs with one click. But with all this accessibility, many job searches still last months, and qualified professionals struggle to get noticed. That’s because the old approach to the job search “numbers game” no longer adds up.
It seems like it should work: applying for as many jobs as possible should improve your chances for landing one. Well, it used to work. This “spraying and praying” method worked for a short time with the advent of Monster in the early 2000’s. For the first time, people didn’t have to pound the pavement to get an employer’s attention and, likewise, by typing in a few keywords, HR managers got an instant list of interested, potentially qualified candidates. It was a win-win situation—for a minute.
It worked back then because there were so few users. If you were one of only a few candidates, your chances of getting an interview were excellent. Within a couple of years however, the marketplace became saturated. Fast-forward to today and there are millions of professionals on a whole host of job search platforms. It’s a chaotic, frustrating mess. Not surprisingly, employers are overwhelmed and are moving away from this model. Now, it’s time for you to move on, too.
The numbers game has changed, and it’s imperative to adjust your strategy accordingly. Instead of setting goals to apply for a certain number of random jobs using generic applications, you should be setting measurable goals around the strategies that actually help you get a job you can love. Let me show you how setting smarter job search goals get the best results.
Setting The Right Numbers Goals In Your Job Search
Goal One: Stay Focused
Employers are looking for focused, resolute individuals with strong, clearly stated goals. Applying for jobs indiscriminately can come across as desperate and indecisive, especially if one company has several openings and your application appears on all of them. Start by taking time to evaluate what kind of career you really want, what you’re skilled at, and what you’re qualified for. Then apply for jobs that reflect those specific focuses.
- Example Goal: Make a list of five job titles that I want to target, including a one-paragraph job description for each.
Goal Two: Reach Out
When applying in a competitive field, standing out is difficult, especially if you’re relying solely on your resume. Go a step further—find and contact hiring managers directly and express your interest in the position. Additionally, get in touch with as many professionals as possible in your field of interest and request informational interviews. This form of networking is focused and more personal and at the same time allows you to broaden your understanding of the industry. It also puts you on the radar for when opportunities arise.
- Example Goal: Contact two individual hiring managers each week to express interest in a particular position or the company as a whole. BONUS: Request an informational interview.
Goal Three: Get Specific
With resumes, there’s no such thing as one-size-fits-all. As time consuming as it may be, it’s critical to tailor your resume to each individual position you apply for. Read the job descriptions and instructions carefully, and highlight your relevant skills and qualifications while ensuring to include any requested supplemental information. Identify keywords stated in the job position and use them in your resume to show why you’re the most qualified candidate. Tailoring your resume to each job opening reveals that you’ve done your homework and you’re confident you’ll be a good fit.
- Example Goal: Send out at least 3 tailored resumes: in a job application, in an email to a professional contact, or directly to a hiring manager.
Goal Four: Be Methodical
Once you’ve applied to a few different places, if you don’t have a clear tracking system, it can be easy to get confused where you have applied, what you sent to each employer and when you need to follow up. Create a spreadsheet list of each position you’ve applied for and track the following information:
- The date you applied
- The position’s closing date
- Name and contact information of the hiring manager
- The dates you’ve sent follow-up emails/phone calls
- Any one-on-one communication you’ve had with the hiring manager
- The date of a first interview and any follow up conversations
- Supplemental information requested and sent such as references, reports etc.
Keeping track of these key pieces of information allows you to focus on developing your professional brand, and connecting with professionals on social networks instead of spending your time wondering if you forgot to reply to an email from an HR manager.
- Example Goal: Check my contacts spreadsheet once a day and send all follow-up messages.
Goal Five: Get Involved
Lastly, spend your energy where it really matters by networking with professionals, connecting with resources and getting involved in your community. Connect with one or two professionals in your field on LinkedIn or Twitter each week. Start listening to a podcast of someone you admire or want to learn from. Find books or other resources to continue growing your knowledge base. Grow your skills by volunteering in a relevant area. Have tech experience? Consider volunteering your expertise at a local non-profit that needs help updating their website. Not only is this a highly effective way to network, it will always look good on a resume.
Being driven by goals is not a bad idea—provided they’re the right ones. Staying focused on what matters will get you closer to your goal of finding a new position that you’ll enjoy.