Want to Fast-forward Your Job Search? Target More Positions

Even if your resume, pitch, skill set, and emails are all stellar, at the end of the day your job search is still a numbers game. To improve your odds of landing a position quickly, you’ve got to actively go for a large number of potential positions.  That is, don’t just passively wait for the search firm to call or the ad to show up (and then compete with potentially thousands of other applicants). Instead, take the active approach: 1) create a plan that casts a wide enough net to include enough suitable positions (open or currently filled), and 2) implement the plan via networking and contacting people you don’t know directly in these organizations.

Maybe you’ve heard of the “hidden job market.” Well, this “active” approach gives you access; A key to its success is to focus on #1 above: create a plan that contains enough “positions that exist” (even if filled now) so you know there’s enough potential to land a job quickly.

Here’s an example. A client came to me for help after a year of job-search frustration.  His theories about what was wrong included 1) “I’m too old” and 2) “there are no jobs.” A quick conversation, however, revealed a different issue.  In his job search he was targeting a niche industry, in a narrow geographic area— in which there were only 13 companies.  Each company had only one position that would be suitable for his skill set; all 13 positions were currently filled.

When we did this analysis, it suddenly became clear to him why things were taking so long.  First he would have to wait for one of those 13 positions to become vacant, and then he would have to compete with hundreds (or thousands) of other applicants!

To move beyond targeting just 13 positions, he created a plan that 1) expanded his search geographically to include more companies, and 2) added additional industries and job descriptions to his search.  In the end, his new plan identified roughly 200 positions (a rule of thumb that Five O’Clock Club coaches use), up from the original 13. He quickly started reaching out (directly and through networking) to his new target organizations, landing meetings, interviews, and ultimately job offers.

By the way, don’t worry about precisely identifying the exact number of positions available at a given company—this is just a back-of-the-envelop calculation.  “roughly 10” ,  “roughly 50” etc. will do fine.  The idea here is to create awareness of the potential in your job search. This way you won’t accidentally kid yourself about how small the potential really is, and how long your search will take you.