Why Doing Less Can Get You More When Searching for a New Job

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Here's a common scenario for the dedicated job seeker: In a burst of enthusiasm, you find a handful (or a few handfuls) of job openings and start sending your resume and cover letter to all of them. Maybe, if you're really detail-oriented, you'll tweak each cover letter for each job just so you don't feel totally guilty about sending the same one over and over again.

So you finish up and you feel great about how hard you're working in your job search. But then a few weeks go by and...nothing. You never hear anything back from any of the positions to which you applied. So you repeat the cycle again and again, you never hear a word back.

What's really happening here?

Why treating your job search like a numbers game is bad advice

One of the most common pieces of advice given to job seekers is to treat the search like it's a numbers game. By going for sheer volume of applications sent out, you're bound to hear back from someone, right?

As it turns out: Probably not. At least not in the way you want.

The fact of the matter is that the kind of scattershot approach from the example above is extremely inefficient and ineffective. For starters, when you're sending your resume and cover letter indiscriminately, you don't take the time to truly make sure the position and company are the perfect fit for you. What good does it do for you if the only interviews you get are for jobs that, at best, you're lukewarm toward?

In addition, when you play your job search like a numbers game, you tend to favor quantity over quality. Since you're gunning for as many applications as you can possibly send out, you miss out on some of the nuances - like a perfectly-customized cover letter - that end up being the difference between a great, standout job application and one that gets relegated to the pile with the rest of the merely good ones.

Less is more when looking for a job you'll love.Less is more when looking for a job you'll love.

Spend your time more wisely: The "less is more" mindset

If you're treating your job search like it's a full-time job, you're likely putting a considerable amount of effort and time into it. But how you spend your time should reflect a more efficient and ultimately, rewarding, job search process.

In the numbers game-style job search, most of your time is spent making small tweaks to your resume and cover letter to accommodate the large quantities of jobs to which you're applying. But as a recent article on The Muse explained, you'll get much better results by adopting a "less is more" mindset. In other words, you'll put more effort into the quality of your application than you will on going for quantity alone. By doing this, you're much more likely to land the interview of your dreams.

"Because you're sticking to a select few jobs that you know are an incredible fit for you, it's a lot easier to stay motivated when filling out applications and perfecting resumes and cover letters."

On its face, this idea sounds counterintuitive: How can you maximize your chances of getting called in for an interview by applying for fewer jobs?

But when you dig deeper, it starts to make plenty of sense. Look at it like this: In the time you spent applying to 10 jobs that may or may not be what you're truly looking for, you could have researched two companies/openings that would be perfect for you and put forth the effort to craft two extremely well-done applications customized exactly for what that recruiter is looking for.

By refocusing your job search strategy to involve fewer but better applications, you can all but eliminate the problems that get created with the quantity-over-quality tack that all too many job seekers take. You'll be doing deeper research on the companies and positions, meaning that you'll have a much clearer idea if they're right for you and your career. Your applications will stand out because you'll have taken the time to make sure they reflect exactly what the recruiter wants.

And as the Muse pointed out, because you're sticking to a select few jobs that you know are an incredible fit for you, it's a lot easier to stay motivated when filling out applications and perfecting resumes and cover letters. Your passion will come through and be readily apparent to the recruiter - something that will make you stand out over the other applicants (especially if they went for quantity over quality!).

Sure, fewer people will see your applications when your mantra is "less is more", but the ones who do see them will be the right people - the ones who absolutely need someone like you, and are offering a position that will be a promising next step for your career. Best of all, by making sure you find a job you truly want, it's unlikely that you'll have to search for a new one again for a very long time.