Wednesday, April 16, 2008

Focus Your Efforts

I recently had a current graduating senior ask me this question via LinkedIn, and I thought I would share a variation of my response with you all:

"How many jobs can I expect to apply to? Many or a few?"

Getting a job is tough, especially in today's economy where jobs are far and few and entry-levels are a dime a dozen. Therefore, it's only natural for you to want to apply for as many jobs as possible in hopes to at least snag one of them. However, I believe that this philosophy will only buy you a whole lot of stress for nothing.

Focus Your Efforts
Instead of applying to 30, 40, even 50 companies, I would recommend making a list of the companies you really want to work for and putting them in order of preference. Next, take your top 5 or 6 companies and only apply to those. I know this sounds scary (by nature, we want security) but just hear me out.

After you select the top few companies you want to apply to, focus your efforts on only those companies by following some of these general tips:

  • Thoroughly research each company on your list. Visit their Web site. Familiarize yourself with their mission statement. Research their case studies and know their clients. Do an Internet search for key leadership figures and read their blogs/LinkedIn profiles/etc. Basically, spend some time learning the in and outs of each company you apply for so you are educated going into the interview.
  • Tailor your cover letters and resumes to fit each company you are applying for. This might be a no brainer, but you'd be surprised at how many people send out a generic cover letter with the classic format. Instead, try looking at some of the skills the job requires and mention in your cover letter that you would be the perfect fit for the job because you have the skills necessary, then provide examples. Companies will be impressed you took the time to do this.
  • After you send your cover letter and resume, follow up. Give HR a quick call to see if they received your information and if they are interested in bringing you in for an interview.
  • Browse LinkedIn/Personal blogs/PRSA directories or ask around to find a contact within the firm. If you find someone, e-mail this person and ask about the company. Tell them you are interested in applying and ask if they would be willing to pass your resume along to HR. This may sound odd, but many professionals remember what it was like to be in your shoes and are willing to help out. Plus, several companies offer incentives to employees who recommend job candidates who are then hired ;)

Could you imagine doing all this if you applied to 50 different companies?! If you focus your efforts, you will stand out above all of the other job candidates who do apply to 50+ companies during their internship and job searches; the job candidates who don’t take the time to do the above. And, if the worst happens and you don’t get hired by one of your top few companies, simply make a new list and start the process over.

Additionally, if you do apply to 50+ companies, you might run into the problem where you get a few job offers – number 46 and 49 on your list perhaps. But the company you really want to work for is still making a decision. Shoot, now what? If you focus your efforts on your top few prospects, hopefully this will never happen :)

1 comment:

Sara said...

Hey sister! I was wandering around the blogosphere and stumbled upon your lovely face.

I'm so glad to see that you're doing well in Portland!

As I'm sure you know, I'm graduating soon and it's so inspiring to see someone who has made it.

Keep in touch hun!