Now that you have decided on a career path and you’re ready to start searching for an internship or full-time job, creating an effective search strategy is critical to your success in finding a job that’s a good fit for you. With all the different job titles and employer languages out there, how can you discern one job description from another and decide if you should apply?
Examine the Required and Preferred Qualifications and answer the following questions:
- Can I do what the employer is requesting? Job candidates rarely fit 100% of the job description to which they apply for or are hired to do. Employers write job descriptions for their ideal employee and hope to hire someone who meets ~75% of what they list, with the hope of finding a great fit who is also teachable, so they can learn the parts of the job they don’t yet know. If you can fulfill all the Required qualifications and some of the Preferred, consider applying.
- Do I want to do what the employer is requesting? This is where it can get tricky… Sure, in many cases you CAN do the job, but you have to ask yourself if you WANT to do the job. Are the daily activities such that you will be engaged and excited about your work? Is the company one that you will be proud to say you work for? Do the company’s mission, vision, and values align with your own? These are just a few questions to ask yourself as you consider each job description. Rule of Thumb: If you aren’t excited to learn about the company, tailor your resume and cover letter, it may not be an awesome career choice.
- Do I have the technical skills to do this job? If the answer is YES, incorporate these skills into your application materials – resume and/or cover letter, writing samples, email communications with the employer, etc. If the answer is NO, ask yourself if you can learn it. With regards to the latter, be prepared to address your skill gap in the interview process by highlighting your complementary strengths, such as using behavioral evidence to tell the employer about a time when you went into a situation without a skill and quickly learned it to achieve a positive result.
- Do I have the soft skills to do this job? Same answer as above – if you have it, let them know! If you don’t, be prepared to learn it or move on to another job description.
With millions of jobs available on “monster”-sized job boards out there – like LinkedIn and Indeed – try making a few lists before you get started and revise them throughout your search, as you learn more about yourself and your desired field:
- My Top 5 Preferred Job Functions
- My Top 5 Professional Skills (Technical and Soft Skills)
- My Top 5 Industry Preferences
- Key Job Boards for My Job Search (these could be industry- or geographic region-specific)
If you’re applying for jobs on LinkedIn, check out their “How You Match Feature”, which analyzes if you’re a good fit for a job position. Utilizing your education level, skills, years of experience, and current job title, you can see where you align, and where you may fall short. No matter the job function (e.g. finance, consulting, information technology, etc.), LinkedIn provides you with real-time results.
If you meet most of the requirements, go ahead and apply with the “1-Click Apply” button. If there are some big gaps, you can either make updates to your profile or find a better job description match.