Do I Apply Selectively Or Broadly?


A job search can seem daunting when you start it. Like painting a picture or writing a novel, it’s that blank slate that can make it seem like a big hill to climb. To make your search seem a lot less scary, you need to have a plan of attack. When making this plan, you can either decide to make a list and apply selectively to jobs, or you can simply apply to whatever comes your way. As with any decision you make, there are positives and negatives to each way of look for a job, which we will delve into a bit deeper:

Positives to Applying Specifically

One of the big positives to applying selectively is that you give yourself more time towards personalizing your approach for each employer. It’s always a good idea to tweak your resume and cover letter to the points outlined in the job description. In addition, your job search efforts will become focused towards opportunities with the greatest likelihood of success. Because you are taking your time to look thoroughly at job descriptions before you send in your application, you can get a better feeling of whether you are truly right for the job.

Negatives to Applying Too Specifically:

When you are very focused on certain jobs you may miss the ones that are a bit on the periphery. For example, if you have experience as a web designer, when you apply selectively you may only go for jobs that are specific to being a web designer. By doing this, you may miss interesting jobs that are not specifically for a web designer, but that you are well qualified for. Also, applying specifically is going to make each rejection a bit more painful. If you took the time to find the “perfect” job it’s easy to get your hopes up and it’s more likely that not hearing back will feel like a rejection (even though there is really nothing personal about it)

Best Approach if Applying Specifically:

If you are looking to apply specifically, instead of committing to the randomness of online job boards develop a list of target companies (more info on that here). By doing this, you can better use your time, and you can network and develop customer plans to target each employer.

Positives to Applying Broadly

Applying broadly during your job search can increase your opportunities. The more you put yourself out there, the more chances you’ll have of getting a job. Also, you don’t always know which requirements on a job description are going to be deal breakers for employers. Just because they would prefer a certain type of skill doesn’t mean they are always going to find someone who has it. By applying to the job anyway, you avoid excluding yourself from opportunities where you may have been a strong candidate.

Negatives to applying too broadly

It can be hard to personalize your approach when you are replying to everything that you find on a job board. If you apply broadly you tend to send the same resume and cover letter to companies without personalizing them. It’s also important to note that employers don’t tend to like candidates who apply to every job that they put up on their website. If you apply to several positions with the same employer when you really only perfect for one of them, they may dismiss you as somebody who applies indiscriminately.

Best Approach if Applying Broadly

Automate your own process by signing up for several email agents with multiple boards that will email you new opportunities as they are added. Focus on optimizing your resume to get past Applicant Tracking Systems that may block you for not having “required” skills. Ask your Hiring Advisor for links to our Navigating the Hiring Process that includes tips for getting past Applicant Tracking Systems.

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