When it comes to job hunting, its quality over quantity

quality not quantitySeveral years ago whilst between contracts I decided I would use the power of a remote virtual assistant to help me get a new job.  I’d successfully used remote workers via ODesk for several years to perform tasks including SEO, translations, testing, and even software development at lower cost than local workers, thereby allowing me to spend more of my time on ‘higher value’ work, so why I thought not use the same theory in my job hunt.

My theory was good, or at least I thought it was, here’s how it went

  • I don’t mind interviews, but getting interviews is a pain and its time-consuming
  • I have to find agencies and send them my CV / resume
  • I have to find hiring managers who are recruiting for my sorts of roles and send them my CV / resume
  • A proportion of those I send out to will get back to me (many more will not)
  • I want to spend my ‘high-value’ time speaking to those that get back to me to secure an interview
  • If I can automate the first few steps (outreach), then I can focus on the high-value bit at the end: the interview and thus secure my next job

With this in mind I got onto ODesk and hooked up with a virtual assistant I’d previously used. I equipped him with copies of my CV and a cover letter outline, I set up a gmail account for him to use in my name, I targeted him on certain geographies and job titles, and I set him off on the outreach tasks.

But, in the end my next role was not secured through this route. In fact, I struggle now to recall much useful benefit from the process.  In fact, the lasting result of all that activity was that I found myself on so many jobs mailing lists that, even to this day, many years later, I’m still getting emails about (unsuitable!) jobs from agencies I’ve never heard of.

Here’s what went wrong, and why this approach did not work

There was no problem with my VA, he was awesome, but I made a fundamental mistake.

Whilst the phrase “it’s a numbers game” has embedded itself into our language, the numbers don’t tell the whole story.  I (or my VA) was sending out the same boring old resume and boring old cover letter that everyone else in the entire job hunting universe was sending out. I was not cutting through the noise, I was not standing out, in fact I was adding to the noise (recruiting managers spend less than 6 seconds reviewing your CV).

So, whilst you do have to connect with others to find a new job, you dont need to connect with hundreds or thousands.  Though this exercise I came to realize that it’s not about quantity, its about quality.  The only reason I thought I needed a VA to do the initial work was because I wrongly assumed that it was about quantity, when in fact job hunting is far from that.

Could you get a result that way? Sure, you probably could. But, it would be more about luck and probability than design.

The lessons

So, instead of taking on a mammoth task, be more targeted in your approach, and then with your targeted audience ensure you STAND OUT from everyone else who is also connecting with them.  In fact, my next role was secured with my very first graphical CV (or “resugraphic” as I called it then), I mailed it to around 20 targeted contacts from my address book – people in business that I’d connected with at some point in my career.

The targeted approach calls for you to put in more work in the targeting stage, in order to reduce the work in the outreach stage and simultaneously increase the likelihood of striking gold.

  • Job hunting is about quality not quantity
  • Be very discriminant about who you target
  • Make a focused, personalized outreach
  • Ensure the content of your outreach – your cover letter and CV – are VERY standout

You’ll reduce the work you have to do, and your increase your likelihood of success

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