By Peter Weddle
Bingeing is a hot topic these days. Our waistlines are expanding, our consciousness is shrinking and our eyes are glazing over as more and more of us eat, drink and watch TV series in excess. Now, we're also binging on job search.
As with most activities, eating, drinking and TV watching aren't inherently bad for us. It's when they're done to an extreme that their impact is harmful. As most of us have learned the hard way, too much of even a good thing can have negative consequences.
How does that apply to those of us in transition? How can someone binge on looking for a job? And, just what does the alternative - moderation - look like in a job search?
Too Much of a Good Thing
Job search binging occurs when we fire off applications like shells from an assault weapon. It's easy enough to do, thanks to all those job postings on all those job boards out there on the Internet. As Maverick describes it in Top Gun, the online job market is a "target rich environment."
We see an opening that looks interesting and BANG, we shoot off our resume. It doesn't matter if we're only partially (or not al all) qualified for the opening or that we're not really interested in the work, it's an open job and we're hunting for one, so why not?
Well, there's at least two negative consequences:
The Moderate Alternative
The best way to job search is moderately and the best way to job search moderately is to practice the Application Three-Step. It's an online strategy anyone can learn and everyone can use to their benefit.
Step 1: Instead of applying for lots of jobs that barely interest us, we should invest our time and effort in uncovering those jobs that meet both of two criteria: we find them truly interesting and worthwhile and we are truly qualified to excel at them. In other words, we focus on locating the handful of (what we would consider) dream jobs posted out there on the Internet, not blasting off resumes to hundreds of openings that are likely to be nightmares.
Step 2: Instead of viewing our application as an administrative process that involves nothing more than the transmission of a resume, we should treat it as a two-part test. In the first part, we must show we are an irresistible candidate by tailoring our resume to the requirements and responsibilities listed for the opening. And, in the second part, we must prove that we can follow directions by sending in our resume exactly as specified in the job posting.
Step 3: Instead of thinking we're done when we submit our resume, we should embark on a parallel "employee referral search." We should search through every contact we have, both online and off, to see if we can find any of the following connections at the employer where the opening exists: (a) a person we know well, (a) a person we've met but don't know well, or (c) a person we don't know but with whom we share an affinity (e.g., both graduates of the same school or former employees of the same organization).
Once we located one or more of these connections, we should ask them to refer us to the recruiter who's working on filling our dream job. That's the single best way to move our resume from the middle of the pile to the top, where we are much more likely to get the consideration we deserve.
Job search binging may make us feel as if we're working hard on our transition, but it's likely to harm rather than help us find work. An excess of applications can actually interfere with our ability to land the best job for us. A better approach is a moderate one that focuses our efforts on the quality of our applications rather than the quantity.
Formerly the Chairman and CEO of Job Bank USA, Peter Weddle is an HR consultant, recruiter, author and commentator with an international reputation. He has authored or edited more than two dozen books, including "Recognizing Richard Rabbit: A Fable About Being True to Yourself", "Work Strong: Your Personal Career Fitness System" and "WEDDLE's 2009/10 Guide to Employment Sites on the Internet". In addition, he oversees WEDDLE's, a print publisher specializing in the field of human resources. WEDDLE's annual Guides and Directory to job boards are recognized for their accuracy and helpfulness, leading the American Staffing Association to call Weddle the "Zagat of the online employment industry." Peter Weddle is also CEO of the International Association of Employment Websites.