Whilst looking for a new job, you often feel a sense of urgency — after all, once you’ve decided that you’re ready to move on, showing up day after day becomes a challenge. As a result, jobseekers typically apply to as many jobs as they possibly can, hoping that an increased number of applications will increase their odds of hearing back from an interested employer.
But the reality is, this “spray-and-pray” approach is almost always detrimental to your job search. When you use a generic application and submit it for any position that sounds relevant, you either end up applying to positions that are ill-suited for you, or your low-effort application fails to impress hiring managers and recruiters.
The solution to this conundrum? Simple — quality over quantity. Before you click apply, look into these eight factors to make sure that the job is right for you (and vice versa!).
First and foremost, you need to make sure that you meet the basic qualifications for the position. Look at the qualifications or requirements section and see how it aligns with your own set of skills and experience. It’s important to remember that you don’t have to meet every point listed — qualifications sections are typically more of a wish list than a list of must-haves — but as a rule of thumb, it’s good to fulfil about 75% or more of the given requirements. You’ll also want to keep in mind that certain skills tend to be more important than others. A Java Developer that only knows Ruby on Rails won’t be able to perform the basic requirements of the job, but a Marketing Coordinator can probably get away with applying to a position even if they don’t have prior experience with every tool or platform listed in the job description.
2. Job Responsibilities
You don’t want to flee your current job only to end up at one that you don’t care for either. Before you click submit, carefully review the job description and responsibilities. Ask yourself: Are these tasks that you enjoy (or at the very least, don’t mind) performing? Does the type of work offered in this position match up with where you want your career to go? Are there any tasks that are absolute deal-breakers for you? Reflecting on questions like these will help ensure that you don’t waste your time applying to a job you would hate.
3. Company Culture, Mission & Values
Just as important as verifying that you are a good fit for the job is verifying that the company is a good fit for you. Look at a company’s Glassdoor reviews to see what employees have to say about working there — what are the pros and cons of working there, and do those fit with what you’re looking for? Are their values compatible with your own, or at odds? What about their mission — is it one that you can truly get behind? With how much company information is available today, there’s no excuse to not research these factors beforehand.
Don’t wait to find out what an organisation is willing to offer you until the very last stages of the interview process — do as much work as you can in the beginning to verify whether or not it’s in line with your desired salary range. Some companies will explicitly list the pay range in the job description, but for those that don’t, you can turn to sources like Glassdoor for more information. Many employees anonymously submit their salary information on Glassdoor — look up salaries at the company you’re considering applying to in order to see how much somebody with your prospective job title should expect to make. If you don’t see a salary for a relevant job title at a particular company, look up how much people with your job title in your area are earning so that you have a baseline to compare job offers to. Don’t forget to look at the company’s career site or Glassdoor profile to see which benefits they provide, too!
One of the best ways to get your foot inside the door of an organisation is to be referred by someone who already works there. Employees that are in good standing at their companies have already built up a degree of trust, so their vouching for you is sure to make recruiters and hiring managers take note of your application. Look up the company you’re considering on LinkedIn to see if you have any connections that work there — if so, reach out to them and ask for a referral! If you don’t know anyone that works there, you can always reach out to a recruiter or the hiring manager to express your interest in the opportunity.
6. Commuting Distance
Don’t underestimate the importance of a hassle-free commute. When time that could be spent relaxing at home, doing errands or with friends and family becomes time spent in traffic or the tube, you often begin to resent your job, no matter how great it is otherwise. If the ease of commute is something particularly important to you, make sure to look up how far a job is located from your home and what transportation options are available. You might be surprised what a significant impact an upgraded commute can have on your quality of life!
7. Challenges & Opportunity Areas
In order to distinguish yourself from everybody else applying to an organisation, you should think about the unique value you can bring to them. Are there any challenges they’re facing that you are especially well-positioned to help them address? For example, perhaps your previous eCommerce experience would allow you to help a retail company thrive in an increasingly digital landscape. Do some digging online to see if you can identify some of the major opportunity areas currently available, then think about how you might apply your skills and background to capitalise on them. Finally, make sure to emphasise this in your cover letter!
Firing off dozens of low-quality job applications might seem efficient, but the truth is, less can be more when it comes to applying for a new job. Take the extra time to thoroughly investigate positions before you apply to them, and your success rate is almost certain to increase.