The best thing you can do to increase your chances of employment is being intentional about your search.
When we’re deliberate and purposeful in our actions, we get what we want faster, and are far more likely to avoid missteps and wasted time.
So why don’t we automatically do it?
Because it takes more effort!
But in all honestly, half-assing it isn’t going to cut it when it comes to job searching.
To prove just how potent intentionality is when finding a job, I’ll tell you a little story.
I once knew an editorial manager—let’s call her Sarah—looking to hire a new editor in scientific kid’s publishing.
Sarah put out the job ad and BAM around 150 people applied. That’s a HECK of a lot of applications to sift through.
How do you think she picked the applicants who moved into the next round?
First, she used a ruthless elimination process. One single typo, and they were disqualified.
Next, she looked for people who clearly wanted to work in a role like the one she was offering.
They had relevant skills and experience and spoke well about their accomplishments. After reading their applications, she wasn’t left scratching her head about why they wanted this role.
But, STELLAR, stand-out applications were from people who knew what they could uniquely offer Sarah and the publishing company, and also shared the company’s mission and philosophy.
Simply put, the applicants at the top of the “yes” pile have been intentional about getting this job because it was obviously in alignment with their strengths, qualifications, interests, and values.
These were only a fraction of the resumes received—less than 10%—which means that when you become intentional about your job search, you’re way ahead of the pack.
So how exactly can you be intentional in a job search?
1. Do some soul-digging to find out what you value
Take the time to get to know what YOU want and what YOU value in a job.
Many people enjoy having a sense of purpose through their jobs. Is this you? What makes you feel good after a day at work? Do you value flexible work schedules, or do you want more of a routine 9-to-5 role? Do you mind travelling for work?
For example, if you truly prefer working with numbers and formulas over people, then maybe it’s time to re-evaluate your current client services trajectory.
All of these considerations can help guide your career search.
2. Focus on what you want and avoid distractions
When you know what you want, stick with it and avoid distractions.
For example, if you know you want to work for a top tier food and drink magazine, stop applying for big box catalogue work (unless, of course, you think it will get you closer to your ideal job).
When I was looking for work it was SO easy to get distracted by jobs that would pop up on job search sites that really weren’t what I was looking for.
It could be a matter of minutes searching for “marketing assistant” before I was tumbling down the rabbit hole of completely unrelated careers. (*I can make the transition to cruise boat performer still… right? I’ll just have a quick look*…)
This is why I always recommend researching companies and roles outside of job banks.
And just like that, you’re wildly off track, and the day has been a job hunt write-off.
To know what’s out there, research your industry by looking up news articles, company websites, social media pages, and LinkedIn profiles.
3. Identify and promote your unique skill set
No two workers are ever alike. We all have unique skills and abilities.
Figure out what it is that makes you great at your work, and what unique skills you want to continue developing.
Of course, you also want to make sure that these skills are in alignment with whatever industry you want to work in.
If you’re drawing a blank when it comes to your best skills, ask co-workers, ex co-workers, teachers, or people who have worked on projects with you in the past. It often helps to get outside perspective what others’ perceive your strengths to be.
If you already know your general skill set, try narrowing things down to fit your prospective industry, and the challenges your potential employers face.
For example, look at the difference between these two sentences. If you were a medical agency looking for a new marketing manager to manage large events, who sounds more appealing?
- “I’m a marketing manager specializing in conference coordination.”
- “I’m a marketing manager specializing in managing medical device showcases, designing healthcare conference booth layouts, and running live audience product demonstrations.”
4. Search like a laser-focused hawk
Too often I work with people who desperately want a new job, but who are exclusively looking on job sites to find work.
They find job ads that vaguely interest them so they apply, but they don’t put a lot of effort into the application. And they don’t hear anything back.
When I ask them “Why did you want that particular job?” they rarely have a good answer.
Because they didn’t really want that job.
They were going for what was easy instead of what they truly want.
Sure, it takes a bit more effort to be intentional, but it pays off a lot faster and in far, far better returns.
Don’t just apply to any old jobs that cross your path. Research industries, companies and departments that sound intriguing to you and only focus on these in your job search efforts.
And like I always say, don’t ever think that job banks are the only way to find a job. Cold- and warm-emailing are much more likely to get you results.
What does this look like in practical terms?
- Email friends and family to let them know you’re looking for work, but DON’T just send them a vague “I need a job” email. Consider these emails professional pitch emails, and give specifics on what you can offer, and what you want. Ask for introductions if they work at a company you have your sights on.
- Make a strategic master list of 20 companies you want to work for. Research the heck out of them. Contact them one-by-one and pitch yourself via cold email.
- Use LinkedIn, Twitter, and Instagram to research companies and individuals (if appropriate) and see who might be hiring. Make introductions via these platforms, them send them a warm email, with super impressive reasons why they should give you an interview.
Good luck, job hunters.
Until next time!