Once you have performed a self-evaluation and have your concise narrative developed, you can begin the process of targeting opportunities. This is an exciting stage of job hunting because the self-evaluation will make you feel in control of your destiny for the first time. You now have a legitimate weapon to hunt with and your natural energy level is high. This is great! You are going to need all the energy you can find for tracking down opportunities, as there is a tremendous amount of research involved.
Your guiding principle is to pursue targeted opportunities. You are targeting very specific opportunities that fit your personal narrative extremely well. This is a big change for most people. Here’s why:
- Limited Opportunities – You must not exceed 10 opportunities to pursue, and as you move toward the latter stages of the interview process this number needs to be trimmed down to five.
- Continued Narrative – Your personal narrative will be extended to connect to the opportunity’s narrative, i.e. who you are will have to link strongly to what the hiring company needs in a particular position.
- Relative Dominance – You will prioritize your pursuit of opportunities based on how much further ahead you are of your competition for the job.
This approach is counterintuitive to most people, especially in the unfavorable job market we have had for the past four years. The most common approach for job hunters is to pursue 50 – 75 opportunities, and it is not uncommon for 100+ applications to be submitted by one person over a seven-day period. It is quite evident that high quantities of submissions do not yield results, though, and the reason is simple: employers want the very best fit for their investment. They will leave positions open for months rather than fill it with a mediocre candidate. The more high-level the position, the more this is true. Getting hiring right is a big deal for employers. There can be similar openings at 10 companies and 10 candidates each applying for all of them, but the 10 companies are going to fight over just the best one candidate.
You want to be that one candidate. This is the candidate who has taken their personal narrative and tied it strongly to the specific position based on what the hiring company needs. This is the candidate who has spent a lot of focused time on a few opportunities, not a small amount of time on many opportunities. The other nine candidates? They are the ones who splattered job listings with their résumé and generic cover letters, could not articulate why their skill set is the strongest fit for the position and who had no idea what their relative level of strength was against the competition.
To get to the point where you are ready to contact companies about opportunities, you first have to research the marketplace to find your top 10 strongest fits. This is not conducted by browsing job postings, but rather a variety of other ways that are far more productive. These will be discussed in more detail in the next job hunting article. Until then, prepare to limit your focus, continue your narrative and evaluate your relative dominance to get the best results out of your targeted opportunities.