Focusing efforts on one company vs sending your CV everywhere

Why none of these job search approaches is ideal and what you can do instead.

Unlocking tech talent stories

April 22, 2021

The problem is that just because you find one of these companies, it does not mean that they will hire you. It may be because of bad timing, stronger candidates applying or a mismatch of expectations regarding compensation. Whatever the reason is, if you apply for only one job it is more likely than not that you will get rejected.

Mark is a software engineer whose dream is to work at Microsoft. He knows everything about the company: from the names of employees to the working methods of some teams. He did a specific major because he knew they recruit a lot from that faculty. After finishing his degree he spent 6 months practising for the interviews. He passed through the CV screening and landed an interview. By the time of the interview, he was so nervous that he froze and made a terrible impression on the recruiter, despite having a great resume.

Had he applied for other companies in the meantime, he might have gotten other interesting offers and managed to be more relaxed in the interview. Focusing all efforts on one company can do more harm than good sometimes. You should definitely apply to companies that interest you, but experiencing multiple recruiting processes can have several pros. For instance, having more than one offer can give you an important advantage when negotiating compensation.

Now let me introduce you to Molly, a full-stack developer who has recently graduated from university, just like Mark. She wants to work in a big tech company, but she’s not sure what companies would suit her best. She decides to send her resume everywhere and wait to see which companies reply back. After creating a list of 100 tech companies, she sent her standard CV to all of them. She didn’t hear back from most of them, but she still managed to get called for a couple of interviews.

The problem was that the companies that called her back were far from her ideal ones and she didn’t manage to impress the recruiters since she was not particularly interested in their products or culture and, to be honest, didn’t know much about them. It’s good to make more than one application, but when your application is not tailored to the company and when you don’t have a particular connection with the position you’re applying to, it’s difficult to land a job that you’re actually interested in.

As you could see from the two examples, none of these strategies is ideal. Success lies in the balance between these two approaches. You should definitely apply to more than one position, but you should carefully choose what companies to apply for and tailor all your applications. Now let’s get more specific about the steps you can follow to ensure that your job search strategy is smooth and leads to success.

1. Understand your interests and define goals

Job search is not the first step in finding your dream job. The career development process starts way earlier. You have been making career decisions since you were a kid. From what you decide to study to what leisure activities you engage in, it is all part of a career exploration process. You should explore different options and understand, deep down, what your personal goals are.

If you are reading this article, you probably already have an idea of what areas interest you and what you are capable of. Despite that, it’s never too late to go back to the roots and ask yourself “what do I want to achieve?” or “what do I want to tell my grandkids my job was?”. Start with just a blank piece of paper and a pen and start writing down your answers to these kinds of questions.

If you are struggling with thinking this through on your own, don’t worry, it’s normal that this process feels overwhelming. There are plenty of tools such as interest tests, coaching programs or a Career Clarity session to help you navigate the turbulent waters of career exploration.

2. Having the skills and experience

Typically, you won’t become a senior software engineer without being a junior first. Some positions will require you some previous experience or some specific certifications, such as a university diploma. More innovative and disruptive companies will require you to have the skills to do the job, instead of some fancy diploma or extensive work experience.

In any case, most job positions will have prerequisites. Now, you have 2 approaches here: apply for jobs that require the skills and qualifications you already have, or get the skills and experience required before applying. This can mean getting an internship, a more junior role, or going back to school.

The great thing about going back to school nowadays is that you don’t have to move to a faraway place or spend thousands of euros. From single workshops to intensive bootcamps, from reputable universities to young startups, the online offer for learning is endless.

3. Learn how to “sell” yourself

Most of the time when you are applying for jobs it is more about showcasing your skills than anything else. Let me be clear: if you don’t have a particular skill, you shouldn’t pretend that you do. Recruiters have an eye for that and they’ll likely smell an impostor. Plus, even if you get the job, it will come back to haunt you sooner or later.

So what I’m suggesting is that you learn how to communicate your skills effectively. You don’t have to be a great public speaker or a super confident person to impress the recruiter. You just have to be able to effectively communicate your strengths and be aware of your weaknesses. You are not expected to excel at everything to get a job.

If you feel like you don’t have enough confidence in your skills or that you can’t explain to someone what you are capable of, you should definitely try to work on it. Public speaking or communication training can be an interesting option. Other possibilities include career coaching, reading about the subject, and extensively practicing interviews.

4. Network and build relationships

More than 50% of hires are made through networking and not online job posts. Some job openings are only open internally and some others are filled through referrals. This means that the more people know about your skills and interests, the more likely you are to be recommended for an open position.

Everyone knows that a strong network is an important factor contributing to career fulfilment, but strong doesn’t mean extensive. You should strive to have deep and meaningful connections with your peers, whether you are working, studying or doing something else. Some of these people may even become friends, but the main point is that they will appreciate having you around.

When you are looking for a job, you should think about everyone you met or worked with and consider reaching out. If they are in a relevant company/position for you or in the same industry as you want to get into, you should definitely not be afraid to get in touch and catch up. Maybe they won’t be able to help you, but they may also be (or know someone who will be) the entrance door to your future career.

5. Define a clear (enough) strategy before starting

Careers have many different shapes, colours and flavours, just like an elaborate dish. You shouldn’t follow someone else’s recipe, but rather create your own masterpiece. As I suggested above, think about your favourite flavours, look carefully at your ingredients, learn how to make a beautiful plating and talk with other chefs about what you’re about to cook.

But when you get to the point of searching for a particular job, I’ll give you 6 bullet points that may help you:

  1. Write down your career/life goals and the main requisites for your next job
  2. Write down your strengths and weaknesses
  3. Create a strong CV (which you will later adapt to each position you’re applying for), improve your LinkedIn profile and put together a portfolio
  4. Create a list of companies that you are interested in and try to find some connection in each of them (friends of friends, someone from your university, some previous colleague…)
  5. Check the job boards of the companies, check job search platforms, such as Landing.Jobs, and ask your connections about open positions in your area
  6. Start sending your personalised applications and learn with the feedback you will get from recruiters

Remember that more than looking for the best job in the world, you should look for the right job for you!

Let’s make your future better together!

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