Why Your Job Search is Failing

If you’re feeling discouraged and overwhelmed by the online job search process, you’re not alone.

I often hear that very sentiment from applicants who have applied to hundreds of jobs without landing a single interview. I also hear from candidates who know they’re qualified for positions but can’t seem to get the attention of hiring managers.

What’s the most common problem I see with these applicants? They’re not being targeted enough in their job search.

Think of it like this. A job search is similar to taking a trip. You probably don’t just hop in the car and embark on an elaborate vacation with nary a thought about what you’re doing, do you?

Of course not.

Instead, you develop a plan and take steps to ensure you arrive at your desired destination in a timely, (mostly) enjoyable fashion. You choose where you’re going to stay, how you want to travel, and what you might do when you get there.

Likewise, if you want to land a job you love, you need to focus your attention, intention, and time on specific actions with specific results in mind.

And that is exactly what you do in a targeted job search. You select the industry, positions, and companies where you want to work, formulate a strategy, and then implement a plan that puts you in control of where you’re going.

The Pain of an Untargeted Job Search 

In contrast to a targeted job search, an untargeted search doesn’t really work that well for job seekers and usually goes something like this:

  • You comb through advertisements on job boards, find open positions that interest you, tailor your resumé just a bit, apply online, and Then maybe you apply to a few other places, only to endure more waiting.
  • The longer your inbox stays devoid of interview offers, the more frustrated and worried you become. So, you kick things up a notch. You apply to 10 more jobs. Then 10 more. Then another 10.
  • By this point, you’ve moved from “positions that interest me” to “positions that might actually pay me in packing peanuts ” And the worst part is, you’re still left waiting without any response!

This type of job search strategy is basically akin to wandering around the countryside in a car that’s low on gas, without any cell service for your GPS. You’re exhausted, lost, and have no idea how to get to a place where you want to be.

Why a Targeted Job Search is a Better Option

Targeted actions—instead of meandering with no real plan—are much more likely to result in you reaching the destination you want rather than just any destination.

It’s a much better option, and you absolutely want to apply targeting principles to your job search. Why?

Because you’ll be able to appeal more effectively to recruiters and hiring managers. Most of these decision-makers conduct very targeted searches, and if you don’t fit the mold, they move on. Because having a specific goal in mind means you can tell others how they can help you with your search.

You can say, “Hey, can you introduce me to this person?” instead of, “Do you know anyone who can help me?”

Because you will show up differently. You’ll feel more focused and less reliant on factors you can’t control. Not only does that kind of attitude help you uncover new opportunities, it also boosts your confidence.

Ultimately, a targeted job search allows you to craft a resumé and cover letter that sell you as uniquely and exceptionally qualified for specific positions. A targeted job search also enables you to focus on networking into the companies you want to work for—rather than just hoping you’ll miraculously wind up at a destination that’s appealing.

How to Create a Targeted Job Search That Gets Results 

If you’re stalled in your search and not getting the results you want, I recommend following these four steps:

Get focused. Get really clear with yourself about your skills and abilities so that you can sell them when the time comes. Then, choose specific companies and roles based on your strengths, accomplishments, values, and preferences.

Get branded. Tailor your messaging to appeal to your target employer. (Attempting to be everything to everyone means not resonating with anyone). Customize your resumé, LinkedIn profile, and conversations to show where you’re going and what type of work you’d like to do.

Get noticed. Build and leverage your network. Engage with family, friends, and other industry professionals by creating value through meaningful interactions. This kind of cultivation will enable you to actually get in front of hiring managers instead of just endlessly applying online.

Get hired. Give yourself and the process time. Job searching in today’s market can take longer than you’d like, especially if you’re making a career pivot. Sticking with your plan and the targeted search process will keep you on track, even if you feel discouraged.

Following these steps will help you stand out among other applicants by enabling you to connect the dots for prospective employers. The targeted search will also allow you to showcase the unique value you offer, which is just what you need to do to land more interviews and receive job offers you’ll love.