“I have applied for hundreds of jobs and have gotten few or no interviews!”
Tell me if this sounds like you: You troll job boards like LinkedIn, Indeed, or Glassdoor and sign up for their job alerts so you can pounce on any posting you are qualified for. Then you spend your free time filling out long and tedious applications through company portals. You have your resume which details all of your work history and you’ve crafted dozens if not hundreds of cover letters, tweaking them slightly for each role. And yet … crickets.
How can you not get a hit after applying for so many jobs?! The answer is simple: You are not focused enough. This is a great example of where less is more. Instead of applying to everything you’re qualified for (with a job market coming back and content marketing on fire, there will be a lot, I promise!), choose roles where you are specifically and uniquely qualified. And ideally where you are also a specialist or an enthusiast in the subject matter. Your cover letter, your resume, and your Linked In profile should be hyper focused to the type of job, type of industry and subject matter you want to work in*.
Why applying to fewer jobs is smarter:
- You will be less reactive and more proactive. We have all been trained by modern job boards and their algorithms to let the job postings come to our inboxes or be served to us by keyword searches. The problem? These sites suck you down their job-board rabbit holes where you get distracted and start applying for tons of roles that you’re qualified for but not uniquely qualified for. All of your energy is going into one application after another. Meanwhile: the reality is that 85% of people get jobs through networking or people that they know. Read that again, please.
- You’ll be more empowered. Apply, wait, followup, wait. Apply wait, followup, wait. Break that cycle! Take your search in your own hands: Think first about where you want to work. What are you uniquely qualified to do? (SEO writing? Long-form? Investigative reporting? Service journalism? Social media? Podcasting?) What subject areas are most passionate about? (Beauty? Wellness? Sports? Science?) What types of work environments fit you best? (Startups? Legacy corporations? Non-profits?) Start stalking the brands you love. Study and bookmark their career pages; set Google alerts and follow them on social media, so you are up on what’s going on: Are they launching a new vertical? Starting a content marketing division? Merging with another website? Then use that LinkedIn algorithm to find friends and former colleagues at those brands — and reach out. Your response rate will be better, you’ll gain more inside intel, and you will get closer to your goal.
- It’s crazy time consuming. You know the saying: Looking for a job is a full-time job. It doesn’t have to be! Spend less time by applying to a handful of jobs that you are uniquely qualified for. Sometimes that means (gasp) you won’t apply for a job that week — instead you’ll use that time reaching out to former colleagues, joining networking organizations (ask me about joining WMG!), and researching brands and companies you are psyched about working for. You’ll also have more creative energy to write tailored, specific cover letters and seek out humans to send them to (ideally humans you are connected with in some way).
- You will feel less overwhelmed. If you are a writer, editor, or other content creator who has even a few years experience, chances are you are qualified for a lot of jobs: in publishing, at corporations, at agencies, at brands, at startups. You may even have covered a variety of subject areas and dabbled in a bunch of different types of content creation. All of that is fabulous! But shaping your personal brand story so you’re focused on one industry, one subject matter, and one role type at a time will keep you from going insane and feeling schizophrenic during the job application process. (Today am I an SEO writer? Or a social media manager? A health editor? Or a fashion editor?) Besides, you can only have one Linked In profile.
- They will want you more. Companies want specialists and enthusiasts. Publishers do. Brands do. Startups especially do. I have yet to have a hiring manager come to me and say, I need someone who can write about anything, any audience, and on any platform. Doesn’t happen. They want someone who is a fan of their brand, an expert (or at least an enthusiast) in their subject matter, and is uniquely skilled to build content on the platforms they are on or want to be on. If your resume, online presence, and cover letter is tailored to what they are looking for, they will bite.
- You are more likely to land happy. Don’t forget: This job search is about YOU — about where you will spend a good chunk of your waking hours. So you might as well focus your search on a brand and a subject matter you’re excited about, and doing the thing that you most love doing. It also makes you that much more attractive to hiring managers. They want candidates who “get” their mission, their culture, and thrive at creating content for their audience naturally and authentically. It’s a win-win: You get to do you and they get to pay you for it.
Chandra Turner is founder and CEO of Ed2010 and Talent Fairy. She is a talent recruiter specializing in the content and media space. She also offers personalized career coaching for media professionals at all stages of their career.
* Don’t know where or how to focus? Maybe you need a career coach!🧚