Category: Networking


Limiting the Jobs You Apply to Is Healthy For Your Job Search

When looking for a job, it can be tempting to apply for a lot of open positions. After all, shouldn’t you cast your net wide, especially if you’re in a desperate situation? The answer is no, not typically. So what should you do instead? I suggest a better use of your time is to curate and apply only to jobs that make the most sense.

I’ll speak about how to determine which ones make the most sense in a moment. But first, I want to talk about why curation is both an important and necessary step in your job search.

Why you should curate job postings

There are so many jobs listed in various online job boards. You could spend an unhealthy amount of time with the online application process. This is not always time well spent. Especially given how 80% of the workforce found their jobs through networking, not applying to jobs.

This is why I tell my clients they should spend only 20% of their job search answering job ads, and 80% networking. But most job seekers have this reversed.

As a result, you should limit your job applications to a manageable amount, so your time is freed up for more networking efforts.

Also, being selective in the jobs you apply to shows focus. I’ve previously written how applying for a lot of different jobs, especially different roles within the same company, can signal to employers a lack of focus. They often view this as a huge red flag.

How many jobs should you apply to?

Allow me to use some similar language from Justin Whitmel Earley’s book, The Common Rule: Habits of Purpose for an Age of Distraction. He talks about the importance of curating the media we watch as one way to foster healthy habits. While he’s referring to media consumption, I’m going to refer to job applications.

So then, how many jobs should you apply to? It’s up to you to decide what your limit will be. “The point,” Earley says, “is to determine some kind of limit that forces curation.”

You can’t apply to every job listed in your field, but you should apply to some, perhaps even many. However, you also must curate them, instead of allowing the online job boards that care nothing about your career to curate them for you.

Earley says, “The good life doesn’t come from the ability to choose anything and everything; the good life comes from the ability to choose good things by setting limits.” You can substitute the word “career” for the word “life” in this quote, and it would still ring true.

Unlimited choices lead to “decision fatigue.” But limits, however, provide freedom. In the case of a job search, this could be the freedom to meet new people and grow your network, or discover opportunities not yet advertised.

By limiting and curating certain job ads, you improve your ability to make good career decisions.

What kind of jobs should you apply to?

Earley says, “Curation implies a sense of the good. An art gallery has limited space on the wall, so its curator creates shows to make the best use of that space according to a vision for good art.”

I recommend you develop a vision for good opportunities. The jobs it makes most sense to apply to are the ones meeting at least some of the following criteria:

1. Jobs matching at least 65 to 75% of your “must-have” requirements for a job. This will help you stay realistic without settling.

2. Ones where your skills match at least 65 to 75% of the qualifications. Remember from my previous post, “How to Know If You Should Apply for a Job You’re Not Qualified For,” job ads are written like wish lists. It’s unlikely there’s a candidate who checks every single box.

Where you might lack a particular skill, you make up for it with the ability to learn quickly, or with other assets such as emotional intelligence.

3. Jobs listed on LinkedIn or a company’s web site, instead of those listed on a big job board where the market is saturated and the postings are questionable.

4. Those your networking contacts have referred you to. This is the most effective way to apply for jobs. Therefore, you should spend much of your time building relationships with your contacts.

Conclusion

You may currently be in a situation where you feel like you have to find anything, and fast. But keep this in mind: by not being selective enough to curate a good list of job opportunities, you might find yourself right back in the same situation a year from now. This can turn into an unhealthy cycle. Is this really what you want?

It’s time to take a healthier approach so you can be more successful in your job search, and ultimately, your career.

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Do You Want to Take the Work Out of Networking? Here’s How

Networking can feel like, well, let’s just say it, work. Just the thought of it can trigger a sense of dread for a lot of people. This is especially true for introverts and job seekers currently unemployed. Because networking can often feel awkward and fake, it therefore feels like work.

But there are some ways to take the “work” out of networking so it doesn’t feel so laborious. Keep reading to find out how.

Taking the “work” out of networking

1. Change your mindset

Instead of thinking about networking as work, start thinking about it instead as “netweaving.” I heard of this term when reading an article by producer and photographer Michael Kushner.

Kushner explains:

“There is a fine line between networking and netweaving. Are you making these connections to advance yourself, or are you creating an environment where everyone can succeed? What establishes the difference is your intention.”

Networking should never be about what you can get from someone. Instead, your intention and approach should always be about making it a win-win for each party. (See my post, “How to Stop Networking for Good Contacts and How to Be One!“)

In addition, your intentions should be genuine. I’ve personally experienced people approaching me with a so-called win-win situation. But in looking closer, they weren’t being genuine.

For example, in one instance, it was obvious the other party was using empty flattery. In another, a contact was using one of her own clients as bait, to lure me into something only benefiting her other client and herself. Therefore, I declined each of these networking proposals.

In the second example, I politely and tactfully called her out on it, because I’d known her long enough to be able to do so. When I did, she admitted it, and showed appreciation for my forthrightness and said she found it refreshing. We were able to be honest and gracious with each other, which strengthened both our reputations within our network.

Not only do I encourage you to be genuine and intentional in your own “netweaving” efforts, but also to be discerning of those who aren’t. You don’t have to say yes to every meeting or proposal. If you do, this is when networking becomes work. Which brings me to my next point.

2. Use your time wisely

Take an inventory of all the different types of networking you’ve done in the past. This can include:

  • attending large networking events
  • conducting one-on-one meetings or informational interviews
  • connecting through LinkedIn
  • attending conferences or industry events
  • joining professional associations
  • volunteering
  • serving on committees
  • etc.

Ask yourself:

  • “Which ones am I more skillful at doing?”
  • “Which ones do I enjoy the most?”
  • And, “Which ones have had the most success?” (with success being defined as all parties benefiting from the connection).

Spend the majority of your efforts on those that meet the above criteria, while occasionally incorporating a couple of the others so you don’t let yourself get too comfortable. As a result, you’ll see more genuine success, and feel less overworked.

More resources:

What Are Some of the Best Networking Hacks for Your Job Search?

Everyone knows networking is the best way to find a job. But many networking efforts have been hampered the past year due to the pandemic. Now, we’re able to cautiously step back into traditional networking methods in some instances, while continuing to use virtual means when necessary. As a result, I wanted to compile some of the best networking hacks and practices, both traditional and virtual, that I’ve previously shared on the paNASH blog. Enjoy!

Best networking hacks

1. Stop overthinking networking

Why You Need to Stop Overthinking Networking

First and foremost, you need to stop psyching yourself out about networking. I see so many clients who come to me overthinking networking, to the point they feel too paralyzed to reach out to anyone.

As soon as you stop putting so much pressure on yourself, you’ll be able to have a purposeful and productive conversation with anyone who could be a potential connection. To learn how to stop overthinking networking, click here.

2. Be realistic about networking

How to Be Realistic About Networking (Re-Post)

In addition to not putting too much pressure on yourself, you also shouldn’t put too much pressure on your contacts. This requires you to be realistic about your expectations of networking.

Click here to find out what this looks like.

3. Know how to handle the question, “What do you do?” when unemployed

How to Answer, “What Do You Do?” When Unemployed

Networking is intimidating enough, but even more so if you’re currently unemployed. Especially when asked, “So, what do you do?”

To learn how to answer this question without feeling like a failure, click here.

4. Understand the etiquette specific to LinkedIn

LinkedIn Etiquette You Need to Know When Networking Remotely

To some people, LinkedIn can feel like an easier, more casual way to network. But you must remember it is still a professional setting, even though it’s in the form of a social media platform.

There is a certain etiquette which must be followed on LinkedIn. Click here to learn the rules of LinkedIn when networking remotely.

5. Write emails people will want to respond to

How to Write Networking Emails That Will Get Responses

Email is still a good way to make an initial connection. It gives the recipient the chance to respond when it’s the most convenient time for them.

To ensure you receive not just a response, but the kind of response you want, it’s important to know how to word your subject line and body of the message. To learn how to craft the best networking email, click here.

For more networking tips, check out these resources:

How to Answer, “What Do You Do?” When Unemployed

It’s the question we all get when first meeting someone. “So, what do you do?” Although it’s not specified in the question, we know the person’s asking what we do for a living. But how do we answer this when unemployed, and without feeling like a failure?

A lot of people are currently unemployed due to the pandemic. They dread this question. Maybe you also dread it, even if you’re not unemployed.

Being unemployed doesn’t define you

First, we have to let go of the false idea that our worth is based in our work. Our careers and jobs don’t define us.

And while our worth also doesn’t come from our skills and talents, we can better answer this question by looking back to see which God-given skills are the common thread in our past experience, including paid work, volunteer work, and what I call “fun work.”

A personal example of “fun work” is when I filled in at the local paddle board shop when they were short-staffed. This job was fun because I got to be on my paddle board, and I got to be outside on the water. Plus, it was a nice way to add some variety to my regular career coaching schedule. But it was also fun because I got to use my gifts of teaching and encouragement when training new paddlers.

These God-given talents in encouraging and teaching others have been a common thread throughout my experience. Not only do I currently use them in my career coaching, I’ve used them in my past work in higher education while advising college students, and when working with aspiring recording artists in the Nashville music industry. I’ve also used them when volunteering in organizations like Project Connect. I’ve even seen how these talents have been used in my personal relationships to help friends and family.

I love encouraging others. It’s a natural, God-given gift and talent I can use whether I’m employed or not.

A new answer

After looking back and realizing this, I now answer the question “What do you do?” differently from my previous usual answer of, “I do career coaching.” Instead, I now say, “I encourage others.” This response  leads to more meaningful conversations.

What about you? What natural gift or talent have you used throughout your past experience and other areas of your life? You can use this to answer the question, “What do you do?”, both when your employed and unemployed.

If you need encouragement, or if you’d like to discover new and creative ways to use your own talents in helping others, let’s talk. I’d be happy to schedule a complimentary initial consultation with you. Click here to get started.

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How to Avoid an Epic Fail When Networking

Networking often feels awkward, and can sometimes backfire, even with the best of intentions. Add to it the awkwardness and limitations of a pandemic, and you’ve got yourself a potential epic fail.

We’ve all failed at least once in our networking strategies. This week, I want to provide some tips to help you try some new and different approaches to avoid an epic fail.

Stay tuned for next week when I share some out-of-the-box interview tips!

Successful networking strategies

One of the most successful strategies is to spend more time doing it! Job seekers should spend 80% of their job search networking and only 20% actually applying to job ads. However, most job seekers have this reversed.

But to be successful, you also have to understand the etiquette involved in networking. Check out these previous posts for five tips most people fail to implement.

1. Avoid appearing desperate on LinkedIn

Every job seeker knows it’s important to be on LinkedIn, but they don’t know how to keep from looking desperate. Recruiters can detect desperation just from a job seeker’s profile, and will steer clear.

Click here to learn how to avoid looking desperate on LinkedIn.

How to Stop Looking Desperate on LinkedIn

2. Create a more inviting elevator pitch

An elevator pitch, created from the same old cookie-cutter approach, will make your listener want to pitch themselves down an elevator shaft!

Instead, click here to try a more inviting and less annoying approach.

The Best Way to Write a Successful Elevator Speech

3. Don’t ask, “Can I pick your brain?”

Leading your networking conversation with this common question can quickly result in an epic fail.

For a lot of professionals, this question is a trigger. To them, it’s code for, “I want to take from you your years of knowledge, advice, or contacts, without giving anything in return.”

This is not a good way to start off on the right foot.

But good news! There are appropriate ways to start a conversation with a potential new contact. Click here to learn how to do so using proper etiquette.

Why “Can I Pick Your Brain?” Is the Wrong Approach

4. Become a good networking contact yourself

Instead of just trying to find good networking contacts, you might also have better luck by serving as a good contact yourself.

To learn five ways you can give back and contribute more to your networking relationships, click here.

How to Stop Networking for Good Contacts and How to Be One!

5. Protect yourself from toxic professional relationships

You’ve probably heard the popular networking advice, “Never burn a bridge.” But I also say, “Never stay standing on a bridge someone else has lit a match to.”

While it’s important to maintain good networking relationships, you should also protect yourself from the toxic ones. Especially if they could hurt your other professional relationships.

Click here to learn how to recognize toxic relationships in your professional circles.

Never Say Never: How to Know When You Should Let a Bridge Burn

Related resources