Brushing up your resume, scanning job boards, and submitting applications leaves you waiting and hoping. It’s time to take control.
It was a game to him.
Adjust the resume. Click apply. Repeat–a hundred times.
For what, he wasn’t sure.
He knew, in the back of his head, the job application process probably needed more than passive job-board scanning and half-hearted resume uploads.
Maybe he needed to find something better.
But these activities were the only ones he knew in this game.
The more applications he filled out, the more opportunities he’d find.
Or so he’d thought.
Instead, as his resume sank deeper and deeper into more and more stacks, he realized the job hunt isn’t a numbers game. And he saw that not all job-hunting activities are equal.
It’s Not a Numbers Game
Going after a hundred job postings with your resume is less valuable than going after five with something better.
Instead, make career moves with purpose. Intent.
Take time to identify companies that interest you. Research what they do, their culture, values, history. Who are their customers? Find out their target markets, products, business models. Do they have competitors? What are the roles in the organization?
Then discover what your interests and abilities might be able to do for them. Create a tailored project and a tailored pitch, expressing what you like about them and what you want to do for them.
Even if they have no open job postings, you’ll get better results doing this five times than shooting out a resume a hundred times. It’s even better if you do it publicly–other people at other companies might see it and be impressed and come seeking you!
Not All Activities Are Equal
Adjusting your resume and clicking apply are activities. Inserting “Company Name” into your cover letter is an activity. Perusing a jobs board is an activity.
Say you spend ten hours on these activities over a two-week period. Those ten hours won’t help you make progress on your next career step. In fact, you could probably get ten times the return on those same ten hours by choosing different activities.
Building a single landing page for a single company might take ten hours. That project would likely yield far greater results than spray-and-pray methods of job-board resume-blasting. Check out Nina4AirBnB. Check out this designer’s pitch for Apple Music. You can do that, too. If you do, you’ll not only increase the odds of success with the target company–and get attention from other companies who see it and are impressed–but you’ll actually learn valuable skills, gain confidence, and build a reputation as a doer and creative thinker.
Don’t follow rules and pretend the economy or bad luck or lack of a fancy degree are to blame when no one calls. Experiment. Get creative. Choose high-value activities for well-chosen targets.
Proof of work
Years ago, I thought the advice “just personalize *1* sentence in your cold emails” was dumb. Wouldn’t smart ppl see through that?— Leo Polovets (@lpolovets) April 9, 2019
Well, people do see through that, but it’s still valuable. 90% of the cold emails I get these days are generic.
That one sentence is Proof of Work.
This Tweet isn’t just about cold emails for salespeople. The concept of proof of work applies to you and your career launch, too.
What’s it mean? The term comes from cryptocurrency, and in simple terms, it means something that is very hard to fake. “Dear Acme Co., I am very excited about your company” is very easy to fake. It took no work at all for you to copy and paste that into every email to every other company.
“Hey Acme, I love your newest product. I’ve been using it for the last two weeks, and I made this short tutorial video on how to optimize it. I shared it on Twitter and got a great discussion going. I would love the chance to interview for your open content marketing position! Check out some of my other work here.”
That is hard to fake. You can’t copy and paste a unique video for each product or company. That proves you put in work, just for my company. That speaks volumes to the receiver of the message.
Do Something For Them
I know, you want to do the least possible work for the best possible return. We all do. That’s rational. But you end up doing more work in the end if you send out a ton of weak, flimsy resumes and cover letters vs. diving deep into a few real, genuine, meaty, hard-to-fake projects that show your hustle and skill.
Don’t leave your next career move to fate. Don’t spray and pray. Instead, dig deep. Experiment. Do something cool for one specific company. Then repeat, and do it again. Build a digital body of work, a reputation, and a relentless curiosity and hunger to learn.
You’re in the driver’s seat.