By Trevor Gamble
There’s something fundamentally backward about the mindset most people have when searching for a job. The thought process goes something like this: “To earn a role, I need to submit as many applications and resumes as possible, cover all my bases for every company that relates to my experience, and gather as many interviews as I can. Only then will I have enough opportunities and an option or two to choose from.”
Working a search like that will quickly lead to burnout and unravel even the most experienced job hunters. We’ve all heard the phrase “less is more.” This is so true, and particularly applicable to a job search. I talk with seekers who are employed and those who are unemployed. The advice I give both types of people is the same: be intentional in your search, and you will not only feel better, you’ll perform better.
I’ll be the first to raise my hand and admit that I’ve been guilty of that strategy! I’ve applied everywhere, sent countless resumes, tried to become like a magnet for interviews, and hoped for responses, most of which never came.
By working that way, I created a ton of work for myself, applying to roles, updating my resume for each, tracking email sends, coordinating phone screens and an occasional in-person interview. On and on I went, and I found myself stretching my resume to the limits of my actual skill set, in hopes that I would possibly fit the required skillset of roles I was applying to. I was over-distributed and under-performing.
The Hub and Spoke Model
So, how can a job searcher perform better? Start by narrowing the focus as much as possible. There multiple methods for this, but one great exercise is called the “hub and spoke” model.
Start by sitting down with a clear mind and a clean sheet of paper. In the middle, write down a single broad industry you have experience in, and circle it. Then, draw lines or “spokes” off the “hub” word in the middle. At the end of each line, write a related industry or a company name that connects to the previous word. This can be a vendor, a skill, a service provider, or a customer. Continue fleshing out the model with more details. Add people in your network, technologies, even geographic locations. By the end, you should have several starting points of information, including company names and specific niche areas of the “hub” industry. See an example below.
Equipped with a focused list of companies and niche targets, you’ll find it much more effective to begin a search for opportunities. Start with the most detailed information (network contacts, specific technologies, and core skills), and work with those before launching a broad industry-wide job search.
Doing this type of exercise also makes it more likely a professional recruiter can align with you and help you. We do our best work when there’s less ambiguity about what a candidate wants. More is not always better!
Stay focused, stay committed, and stay positive. Job searching and career development is always a journey, never a destination!
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