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Don't Waste Your Time

by Peter Weddle

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Peter Weddle

Peter Weddle is a recruiter, HR consultant and business CEO turned author and commentator. Described by The Washington Post as '... a man filled with ingenious ideas,'...

Time is the greatest enemy in a job search. The longer the hunt for a new job takes, the greater the frustration, futility and the possibility of making a mistake. So, the best way to conduct a job search is to use every minute of every day wisely.

Unfortunately, the Internet has caused a lot of people to adopt a quantitative approach to their job search campaign. They pour and pray. They shoot out a huge stream of applications to openings posted on job boards and employers' Web-sites and pray that at least one will yield a response.

While making such an enormous effort may feel as if you're investing your time wisely, however, the results indicate otherwise. The quantitative approach is almost always a failure. Why? Because you end up applying for a job you don't want or can't get.

Employers are risk averse and very finicky. When you apply for a job in which you aren't very interested, they will sense your indifference and focus on applicants where they have a higher chance of success. And, when you apply for a job for which you aren't qualified, they will quickly decide you're a "trash applicant" and summarily discard your resume. In either case, all you've done is waste your time.

So, what's a better approach? Use a qualitative application strategy that I call select and succeed. It involves using two screens to evaluate job postings so you only apply for those you truly want to do and can actually get. As a result, you use your time wisely and optimize your chances of being hired.

The Select and Succeed Strategy

The first screen in the select and succeed strategy will help you determine if a job is an employment opportunity you want. To perform that evaluation, ask yourself five questions:
  • What will you get to do?
  • What will you get to learn?
  • What will you get to accomplish?
  • With whom will you get to work?
  • How will your work be recognized and rewarded?
Then, assign each of your answers a value on a scale of 1 to 5, with 1 indicating a low value and 5 indicating a high value to you. If the combined score for the five questions isn't 20 or higher, you're wasting your time if you apply for that job.

The second screen in the strategy will help you evaluate your chances of hearing back from the recruiter responsible for an opening. To perform that evaluation, ask yourself these five questions:
  • Have you done the job before?
  • Have you acquired the skills to excel at the job?
  • Have you built a track record of excellence in doing the job?
  • For which organizations did you do the job?
  • What recognition did you receive for excelling at the job?
Once again, assign each of your answers a value on a scale of 1 to 5, but this time put yourself in the shoes of a very finicky recruiter. From their perspective, 1 indicates a weak application, while 5 signals a strong one. If the combined score for the five questions isn't 20 or higher, you're wasting your time if you apply for that job.

Using a pour and pray approach to job applications wastes one of your most precious resources in a job search: time. To make sure time works for you, therefore, use the select and succeed strategy. It will help you identify those jobs that you truly want to do and can actually get.

Thanks for reading,
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Peter Weddle is the author of over two dozen employment-related books, including A Multitude of Hope: A Novel About Rediscovering the American Dream, The Success Matrix: Wisdom from the Web on How to Get Hired & Not Be Fired, WEDDLE’s 2011/12 Guide to Employment Sites on the Internet, The Career Activist Republic, and The Career Fitness Workbook: How to Find, Win & Hold Onto the Job of Your Dreams. Get them at and today.