Many of our clients approach us when they’re frustrated by a long job search. They’ve been applying for months and getting no calls for interviews. Sometimes, they just need a stronger resume, and once they’ve got the right document in hand, the calls start coming in.
But often, the problem isn’t just their resume; it’s that they aren’t applying for the right jobs.
Applying for jobs isn’t a numbers game. It’s not like there’s a magic percentage of applications you can send in that result in a call for an interview. In fact, approaching the job search by resume bombing any job that’s remotely interesting is going to result in fewer interview calls and more desperation, because your documents won’t be convincing to the hiring manager! Instead, you should apply strategically for jobs that align with your career goals and interests.
How do you determine if you’re applying for the right jobs? First, make sure you identify what you actually want to do next. Are you looking to stay at the same level, or are you looking to level up? What kind of company do you want to work for? What level of work/life balance are you looking for? Do you want to work remotely, in the office, or hybrid? What skills did you enjoy utilizing from your previous jobs, and what kind of work do you never want to do again? Make sure you’re clear on the answers to these questions, so you can vet job postings against them.
Then, you need to make sure to read job postings carefully. Consider that many job titles are alike, while the duties are really different. For instance, a creative producer job at an ad agency isn’t the same as a creative producer job at a film production company, and neither job is the same as an on-air promotions producer at a broadcast network. If you apply for every “producer” role out there without reading through the listing, you’ll likely apply for jobs you’re not qualified for or don’t even want! Read each responsibility and qualification and ask yourself, “Can I do this? And do I want to do this?”
If you’re applying for a job you really want, you’re also more likely to get support from your network. Your friends and contacts will go out on a limb for you if they think you’ll be a good fit for the role, but they’re not going to put their reputations on the line to refer you for a role you might ultimately reject or not qualify for. Beyond that, hiring managers can tell the difference between a resume that was sent off willy-nilly and one that was customized for the job posting and showcases a real interest in the role. Make sure you fit into that latter category.
Spend a little extra time vetting the job posting and updating your application materials accordingly – it will pay off a lot more than taking the time to fire off 3 more resumes for jobs you wouldn’t even accept
-- Angela Silak & Cindy Kaplan
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