This is the second article in which I am going through the different stages of finding a job. This time I am going to write about one of the most overlooked phases of the job search: ranking the job positions you want to apply to. (if you missed the last instalment, find it here)
Click image for larger version
In fact, very few people stop and think when they get at this stage. As we normally are in a rush when looking for a job, we would like to get our first paycheck not in two months or in two weeks but right now! Let’s suppose that from the previous step of the process you got a list of 10-15 suitable jobs. Does it mean that you should send your CV to all those companies?
It’s like a party
Pretend you’re at a party: there are a lot of interesting people around, and you would like to connect with all those you find in some way appealing. You could apply two strategies: you can do something memorable or crazy that impresses everybody so that everyone will come to you, or you can approach every single person that you find interesting and start a conversation with each of them. But how long does the party last and how many minutes do you need to spend to get in touch with everyone at the level you desire?
The same goes with job applications. Since you can’t impress all the companies you like, you need to spend quality time with each of them. That quality time starts with the preparation of the CV, which is your very first approach to a company. As your time is not infinite, and to properly prepare a CV requires hours of work, you need to prioritize and choose the companies that are the best match to what you can offer and what you would like to achieve in your career.
Be focused and realistic
Two factors need to be considered to make the right ranking of the suitable job positions: how strongly you match the company’s expectations and how strongly it matches yours.
These two factors need to be considered together, otherwise you risk wasting hours of solid work and energy.
To prioritize you list, open a new spreadsheet (or take a piece of paper, as you prefer) and divide it in four columns: Job position, What I can offer, What I can receive, Ranking.
Then start filling the list with the name of each job and its pros and cons.
Every single time I have tried this, I’ve been surprised by the result. Problems that were looking very hard to solve or deep dilemmas suddenly find an answer as soon as I start to fill out the form.
Adopt the employer’s point of view
The “What I can offer” column in the sheet is the most tricky to fill in. You have to consider what skills and qualities you possess that are valuable for the employer, not for yourself! Having, for example, a PhD is not necessarily an advantage for the employer, unless they are requesting skills in the job description that make your PhD very attractive to them.
Consider every aspect
When filling in the ”What I can receive” column, remember that a job is not only about career, professional growth, training, colleagues, benefits and company culture but also other more practical things, like your commute time, for example. You can of course compromise on all these factors, but try to imagine what it will be in like in six months’ time to go to work every day: could you deal with three hours a day spent on the train?
At this point you should be able to easily fill the “Ranking” in your list. And after the ranking exercise, your are ready to start writing your targeted CVs for the jobs with the highest ranking. The strengths listed in your “What I can offer” column will greatly help you in the writing of the CV, as you will need to take in consideration the company’s needs and wishes, which I will take up the next time around.
Franco 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.