In Career Discussions, job search, Job Search Tools

Is it better to be picky when applying for jobs or is the “spray and pray” method more apt to get better results?

Of course, how much effort you are required to put into a particular application process might help you decide how much you really want the job. There are exceptions to every rule and different ways of going about this for different industries and job markets. However, we hope the following tips will act as guide to help you best decide how to spend your time when applying for jobs.

Let us know if you have anything to add or if you have certain rules and criteria you use.  We always appreciate the feedback!

Resume and Cover Letter

Whether you are selective or more broad when applying for jobs, you can always count on having some competition. The more polished and professional your resume and cover letters are the better chance you have. Take advantage of our FREE resume critique and get qualified professional help in this area. It could shorten your job search by weeks or months!

Why You Should be Selective when Applying for Jobs

Before we start with the tips, keep in mind that being selective of picky does not mean that you only apply to jobs where you meet all of the requirements. This rarely happens anyway. Job descriptions are typically “wish lists” created by the employer and they aren’t expecting to find someone who fits every single one either.

Your Time is Valuable

The most obvious reason for being picky is not wasting your time. Sure, you can respond to every “we think you might be interested in this job” email that comes your way. If no lengthy application or cover letter is required it’s even easier, right? But it still takes up your time. Time you could be spending really zeroing in on the companies and positions you want.

It’s important to carefully consider companies that align with your career goals and have a culture you agree with.

Build Your Confidence

It is important to build up and maintain your confidence when working on advancing your career and searching for a new job. Researching,  applying, and interviewing is hard work. Rejection stinks. If you apply to jobs that really aren’t a good fit and don’t hear back from them, it can hurt your confidence (even if you logically know it isn’t you.) It’s better to spend your time on quality applications rather than hedging your best with quantity that don’t produce opportunities.

Focus on Specific Companies not Just Positions

If you research specific companies you would like to work for and start networking to meet people who either already work there or know people who do, you have a much better (and easier) chance of getting your foot in the door. Even if a company does not currently have a position open that you are interested in, forming relationships with people there can be invaluable to your career. You can request an informational interview as a place to start and learn more about the company. Someone there might discover you can fill a need they didn’t realize they had.

RelatedHow to Research Companies You Want to Work For

Narrow Down Your Job Alerts

If you have job alerts set up to help you when applying for jobs, you can get more specific as you narrow down your search.

When to be less picky when applying for jobs

If you are early in your career and job search it may help to broaden your requirement. By doing this it will in effect, help you narrow down as you go along. If you don’t have a lot of experience interviewing it can be really good practice to apply for a few jobs that you will be ok with not getting. Use the experience to get comfortable interviewing and receiving feedback.

Sometimes figuring out what kind of jobs you DON’T want helps you figure out the ones you DO want.

We realize that is a bit counter to the previous advice of not wasting your time on jobs that aren’t a good fit to avoid rejection. Instead, approach it as a learning experience knowing your chances are lower at getting the job.

Things to consider:

  • Avoid applying for several different openings at the same company
  • If you do get an interview be sure to research the company beforehand
  • Have your answer ready for, “Why are you interested in this position?”
  • Make a list of answers related to Common Interview Questions

Good Luck! Happy Career Hunting!

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