The need to get back to work is very real and dire. But what should you apply to?
This question seems very basic on the surface, but even in times of low unemployment it can be challenging. Job descriptions are made to attract applicants. On the surface this is a good thing. However, attracting the right applicant is more challenging than it may appear.
The right applicant
Recruiters often have a very broad understanding of general requirements. Good candidates will have a firm understanding of the business we support as well as the critical needs around background and experience. Recruiters are often tasked with working on multiple job openings at the same time, so we must prioritize what is important when evaluating a candidate. The first cut we often make is based on what we see on a resume. It is critical that the resume is in alignment with the job you are applying to.
It is also not uncommon for candidates to have multiple resumes to submit to varying positions. Catering your resume to the job requirements is a great idea to get a phone screen with a recruiter. However, there are some dangers to this. If you cater your resume to pass the eyeball test, at some point in an interview process you will likely be required to back up what you have stated on your resume.
Therefore, it is critical to be honest with yourself as to whether you align with the requirements of a job description. If it is a stretch, it may be better to seek something else more closely related to your specific skills.
The right fit
Often, recruiters can see which jobs applicants have applied to. If you have applied to 20 different roles in varying parts of a single company, there is a better than average chance you are not a fit for the majority of the roles you have applied to, nor have you taken the time to really understand the different positions you applied to. It’s rare to see an accountant who is also a cloud architect.
There is sometimes a natural inclination towards the idea of applying to as many roles as possible because eventually something will land. Think of how this may look to an employer though.
If you are willing to take something that you may not be a fit for, you are probably more likely to leave when the right role comes along. This also comes off as desperate. And while times may very well be tough, it is still important to step back and see the big picture.
Instead, apply to the right role and give yourself the best shot of getting the right job. Recruiters understand that the perfect candidate may never exist, especially in niche positions. In fact, most hiring manages understand this as well. But the reality is that we want to see as much of a fit on paper as possible. Given the volume of applicants and time constraints we all have, we must make cuts to manage our days. Passing the eyeball test is critical to getting noticed.
Employers are also looking for honesty. As I mentioned earlier, really being able to detail how you align with a role is critical. Some recruiters may be able to ascertain whether someone is a fit early in their conversations. More technical screenings and role specific screenings will certainly unearth this.
Again, to save time for yourself and interviewers, focus on those roles where you can basically do the job on day one and make sure you can demonstrate this through the interview process. If you find yourself having to convince someone you are a fit for a position, chances are that you not a fit.
The right time
Given the current state of unemployment, it is important to be patient. Things will get better. You improve your chances of landing a great career opportunity by focusing and narrowing your search to roles you are a fit for. There are things you can do for short term financial gain while you search and get your career jumpstarted.
When it comes to the long-term role you are seeking, it is best to look for those roles that make the most sense based on your skills and experience.