For the right job, focus on quality over quantity

The Local Denmark
The Local Denmark - [email protected]
For the right job, focus on quality over quantity

This week, our job search expert Franco Soldera answers an inquiry from a reader who is frustrated after applying for numerous jobs only to get nothing but rejections.


Hi Franco. I’ve read your first articles on The Local. I have applied for more than 150 jobs in last five months but I’ve only received regret letters in response. I’m beginning to lose all confidence in myself. Isn’t there any value to being highly educated? Do you have any tips to help me achieve my target?
Every once in a while I play the lottery. It’s a small amount, but I like to give it a chance. I feel like I am doing something that could suddenly change my life. Maybe this week – or next – is my lucky week! Do you think I am doing the right thing? Do you believe this is the best I can do to improve my chances of becoming a billionaire? Should I play more often? Twice a week? Maybe even every day?
All of us have experienced at some point in time this evil circle: we need a job, we send a couple of applications out - doesn’t work - then we send more - doesn’t work either - then apply for a huge quantity of jobs, hoping that at least one employer will invite us in for an interview. No luck again, but no wonder. This not a reasonable way to find a job. 
We don’t want to base our job search strategy on luck. It is better to understand the best way to apply for a job opening and use the technique only for the relevant and interesting positions. In the case that you got a job after applying to 200 different positions, the chances that you got the right job in the right company are almost ZERO! You will soon feel unhappy at work, and in few months you will be back looking for another job...
Let me show in a picture what I consider a good workflow when looking for a job to avoid the evil circle. The workflow shows the logical steps of the job search strategy and the right order of execution (click it for a larger version):
Let’s walk together through the different stages described in the boxes. Most of them have easy labels, but in fact they are quite tricky to apply to our job search strategy, so I will try to explain the boxes in a simple way, sparing you the details.
Each of the steps will be the subject of upcoming articles in which I will elaborate further and come up with examples using real job ads.
1. Assign yourself the desired “job title”
The first thing you need to be sure of is who you are. You can’t sell a company skills it doesn’t need. If your kitchen sink leaks, you need a plumber. You wouldn’t call a carpenter, would you? The same principle applies to you: put the right label to your skills, so that the company will understand what you are.
If, for example, you are an IT Project Manager with more than eight years work experience, you should write ‘Senior IT Project Manager’ on your CV and apply only for jobs asking for this specific job title. If you feel uncomfortable labelling yourself a Senior IT Project Manager, it probably means that you are not the right person for that job. Better to search for a more appropriate job and adjust the job title accordingly.
2. Find job ads with your job title
You should try to find the two to three mandatory requirements in the job ads (f. ex. degree, years of experience, specific technologies and so on) and select the job ads where you can match ALL the mandatory requirements. With a bit of practice you will quickly learn how to spot them in job ads.
3. Rank and prioritize job ads
If you have been working well in the previous two steps, you should now have a short list that is fairly easy to sort. You are already considering only jobs where you match the mandatory criteria. Now you will rank the companies based on your preferences and where you see the best match with your skills. To properly perform this task, you should research and carefully study each of the companies in the list. You might spot details that make you reprioritize the list.
4. Prepare targeted CV for each job and send it
This is the most important step, as the CV is what will give the first impression to the employer, so you will literally spend hours on it! I will dissect this box in several articles over the next weeks.
Don’t even think that making a targeted CV is only for job that requires specializations or high degrees. When you send a resume you want to ensure that the company will understand that you are writing specifically to them, not to 200 other companies. Think about your email inbox: How do you distinguish between real emails coming from friends, acquaintances, colleagues, and the ones that we mark immediately as spam?
5. Follow up
If you haven’t heard back from the company by a few weeks after the job closing date, it is fine to write or call them and politely ask for some honest feedback that you can use to adjust your job search. Sometimes the motivation of your rejection will provide new details about the job that you didn’t expect, such as skills that you don’t have but that were not specified in the job ad. This can happen quite often, as job ads normally go through a quite complex process in which hiring managers, HR departments and other employees might be asked to write or revise the advertisement. The result of this long chain of revisions is a job ad which is sometimes far from optimal.
You can see that it takes time to manage the lifecycle of a job search. However, if you learn how to focus on the few jobs that you find really appealing and which match your skills, then you will get a new and exciting job long before you ever hit the billionaire lottery’s ticket!
What do YOU want to know about finding a job in Denmark? Send us your questions and NemCV's Franco Soldera will provide the answers.
Franco SolderaFranco Soldera is the co-founder of NemCV, together with Zubair Quraishi. Since 2011 they have focused on creating the right web application that allows a superior match between companies and candidates, overcoming the common misunderstandings that affect the hiring process. They have helped more than 1,000 foreigners in Denmark get their first job interviews.
Franco is an IT consultant with more than 15 years experience and has a past as musician. He got his first job in Denmark in 2003 and moved from Italy to settle in Copenhagen. You can follow him on Twitter at @fsoldera.


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