I read regularly on one of my social media feeds, someone venting because they have applied for “XXX” positions and have not had an interview or offer yet. This frustration also comes up regularly when I engage with job seekers regarding their search. For some reason, there are people who view finding a new job as a volume exercise. The more that you apply to then, by sheer odds, you have to improve your chances of landing a new job.

Unfortunately for a job seeker, things don’t work quite that way. The thought from most job seekers, when you probe them regarding their rationale, is that looking for a job is like sales – the more leads you pursue, the better chance you have of finding a job. Actually, the opposite is really true, as a good salesperson knows their marketplace and how they can add value, while focusing on specific companies that they are confident they can be successful in. As a job seeker, you should consider following the same methodology.

This strategy seems to have its roots in a previous generation, perhaps when most positions where similar in nature (i.e., manufacturing), skills were very transferable (you were mechanically inclined), and other factors such as culture and your supervisor were not really relevant. Now in 2022, you owe it to yourself (and your job search), however, to take a more focus approach that better aligns with what you really want and what you are qualified to do.

Mass applying can also weigh on you mentally and impact your self-confidence. The more positions you apply for (especially those you have little chance of hearing from), then the more rejections or silence you will receive. This can place major challenges on your psyche, at a time when you most need to stay confident and positive. Now I reference my example from above, where people sadly are at wits end in their search because they have run a scattershot, unfocused one. It becomes less and less likely that they will perform well when needed in an interview, because of the rejection that they have absorbed.

There are a few keys to having a more focused job search and avoiding mass applying for positions. Let’s review what you can do to help yourself in your search.

• Know Your Place In Marketplace: Do a self-evaluation and honestly outline your strongest skills. Positions that focus on a need for these skills are the openings that you are most likely to hear back on. If you do wish to expand your search out strategically, the next area to evaluate would be the transferable skills that you possess. Transferable skills are things that you can do that can apply to more than just the specific positions or industries that you have worked in. If you are applying for positions outside of your main skills or your easily recognized transferable skills, then you are unlikely to receive a positive response from this inquiry. Even in today’s tight labor market there is only so much training that an employer is willing to do for most positions.

• Know What You Want: OK…once you know where you fit in the marketplace, then you have to figure out what you want. What is the point of applying for positions with companies that are not of real interest to you? While it is nice to receive a call informing you that the prospective employer is interested in speaking to you, but if they do not have a position, you truly want, then this is just wasting your valuable time. Even more so if this is a company that is not on your preferred list. You should also know what you want regarding compensation, benefits, work/life balance, commute, etc., so that you can abort the pursuit of a position as quickly as possible, if you find that it won’t likely be a good match.

• Place Yourself In the Most Optimal Position: Quite honestly, desperation is what often drives someone taking the mass approach to their job search. Someone who is out of work and needs to find employment quickly, often can be as particular with the job search as someone who is not in this situation. To assist you in this area, try to start your job search when you are already employed. Do what you can to avoid quitting a job without having another position lined up. Don’t forget to build up your referral network in anticipation of a job search. A job lead referral from someone you trust is the exact opposite of mass applying, and probably brings the best odds of success for you.

While it may give you a sense of accomplishment to apply for a bunch of positions at a time, if the openings are not aligned with your skill set and interest level, then it is really just wasted activity on your part. Instead, decide upon what you really want to do, where you think you place in the marketplace, and what companies are of interest to you and focus on them in your job search. You will most likely find a position just as quickly (if not quicker) and with a lot more overall satisfaction.

As always, best of luck in your job search.

The following has been prepared for the general information of RochesterJobs readers. It is not meant to provide advice with respect to any specific legal or policy matter and should not be acted upon without verification by the reader.

Joe Stein
WNY Human Resources Professional

Feel free to contact Joe Stein regarding questions or comments at:
Joe Stein


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