Job Search Budgeting
Published in CareersConnect, May 2012
By Peter Weddle
The job market has suddenly gotten a lot more crowded. According to the U.S. Department of Labor, half a million people came back into the market last month, lured by the news of an uptick in hiring. How can you stand out with so many others around? The answer is "search budgeting"—the strategy of focusing your job search where it does the most good for you.
We all face time constraints in a job search. There are many different ways to look for a job, but only so many hours in the day. Therefore, for many (maybe even most) people, the best strategy seems to be to do a little bit of everything. You don't know which specific tactic or set of tactics to rely on, so you cover as many bases as you can in the hopes that one of them will pay off. However, the problem with this approach is that it forces you to minimize the time and effort you invest in any one tactic. You start out doing one thing, but quickly feel as if you have to get started on something else. As a result, neither one gets the concentration of attention nor level of commitment necessary to deliver any (let alone the maximum) benefit to you.
As you race from applying to jobs posted online to an informational interview and from networking on a social media site to conducting research on prospective employers, you are constrained in two ways: 1) either you've worn yourself out and lack the energy to do your best, or 2) you do your best but can't stick with it long enough to get the best results. What's the alternative? Search budgeting. Focus your job search on a small number of high-payoff tactics and perform them in a way that captures 100 percent of their advantages for you. Do that and you'll have no problem standing out, even in an overcrowded job market.
The 100-Percent Solution
Search budgeting involves concentrating on the following three tactics in your hunt for employment.
With search budgeting, the goal of online networking isn't to increase the number of connections you have on LinkedIn or the number of friends you have on Facebook. More often than not, those are people who can't help you because they either don't work in your field or have no experience in your industry. With a search budget, therefore, the goal is to ensure that 100 percent of the people with whom you interact are in your field, your industry, or both. They are the individuals who can and most likely will help in your job search. Therefore, network online only at the discussion forum of your professional society or trade association and/or in a LinkedIn group that serves the same people. They alone put you in touch with the unique insights and access of your peers.
Research is the one sure way to put yourself in a position to succeed. It enables you to identify and avoid bad employers—those that can't or won't promote your career advancement—and the wrong employers—those with values and/or practices that preclude your doing your best work. Similarly, research also enables you to identify and select the right employers—those that provide the resources and support you need to perform at your peak and the environment that empowers you to do so. Therefore, only consider employment with organizations where you are 100-percent certain you will fit in and focus your research on finding them. They alone put you in a position to achieve real and lasting success.
The Internet has made it easy to find and respond to a large number of openings in a relatively short period of time. As a result, many people today shoot out résumés like rocket launchers, applying for jobs whether or not they can do the work or even want to. Employers, however, are much, much more picky. They will not consider, let alone select a person who isn't a perfect match with the requirements and responsibilities they've listed for their vacancies. Applying when you don't fit those criteria, therefore, is a waste of time—both yours and the recruiters'. The better tactic is to apply only to jobs where you are a 100-percent fit with the employer's specifications and thus exactly match its ideal candidate. They alone put you in genuine contention for employment.
You can't land a great job in a crowded job market by hard work alone. Instead, you have to work hard and work smart. You have to stand out from the herd by focusing on a small number of tactics and performing them in a way that delivers 100 percent of their benefits to you. That's the power and promise of search budgeting.
About the Author
Peter Weddle is the author of over two dozen employment-related books, including WEDDLE's 2011/12 Guide to Employment Sites on the Internet; The Career Activist Republic; Work Strong, Your Personal Career Fitness System; and Recognizing Richard Rabbit. Get them at Amazon.com and www.Weddles.com today.
Copyright 2012, WEDDLE's LLC. All rights reserved.