When thinking about searching for a job, it can be easy to get into the mindset of “I’ll apply for everything I can remotely consider myself doing.” You want a job, and you want to maximise your chances of getting one, fast, so it seems obvious that if you apply for as many as you can, you’re more likely to get a job, right?
Not exactly. We call this approach a scattergun one – you’re shooting loads of bullets hoping one hits. Sometimes this will work, but more often than not, the many applications you send out will be very similar, they won’t be researched, and they won’t stand out from all the other applications that are being sent in for that job. We often get people coming to see us who say “I’ve applied or 50 jobs and had nothing back.” When we ask about those applications, they’ve been sending the same CV to those 50 different jobs, with no cover letter. This is often a waste of time; it is far better to spend time on 10 applications than send 50 of the same application to different companies. That way, you can focus on the quality of your application – you’ll get a better response rate and more interviews, I promise. It would be even better if you focus your job search with some actually really easy tools.
The first one is the target list. You might not know exactly what sort of job you want, but hopefully, you will have an idea of the sort of company that you want to work for, or does the sort of work you are interested in. What you can do is make a list of these companies – the ones you want to work for, the local employers in that field, where they are etc. This gives you a clearer idea of what you’re aiming for, so you can tailor your applications towards those companies. You can only find what you want if you have an idea of where to look for it. Once you have this list, you can check their individual job websites, research them on LinkedIn, and find out when and how they recruit.
This might sound like a lot of work, and it used to be, but actually, now it couldn’t be easier. All you need to do is type the generic term for that employer into google. Loads of stuff, a lot of it not useful, is going to come up, but if you switch to maps, like below, then BOOM: Google writes a target list for you. Add some of the bigger companies you already know about to that list, and straight away you have a direction. Give it a go before you start looking for jobs, it can really help direct you.