You don’t climb the stairs to reach a higher storey when you can take a lift. You don’t walk up to the TV to flip channels when you can do so with a remote control. And you don’t visit a bank when a transaction can be completed over the Internet.
From dishwashers and washing machines to software, online reservations and ready-to-eat foods, most of the gadgets, technologies and services are aimed at a basic human quest: to minimise effort and time.
When it comes to the job market, however, the tendency to minimise effort and time can prove to be counter-productive. But, if you stay off the path of least effort during your job search, you could enjoy better prospects. Here is how it works:
The quickest way to apply for a job is to update an old resume and send it out to as many employers as possible. That is the path of least effort, often leading to not-so-favourable outcomes.
First, when you prepare a resume without spending sufficient effort and time on it, it is likely to be longer than necessary, vague, complex, unimpressive and may contain errors.
Second, when you send a standard resume to multiple employers, it fails to connect with their unique requirements and convey your true value. The likely destination of all such resumes is the rejection pile.
If you wish to open doors for interviews, make an effort to:
- tailor your resume according to each potential employer’s unique needs;
- keep it short — two or three pages is enough;
- make the information easy to grasp by using bullets and headings/sub-headings;
- use short and clear sentences;
- support your credentials with specific examples and data;
- and avoid grammatical and spelling errors.
These actions require more effort and time, but they are worth it, for recruiters pay attention to resumes that are relevant, clear and tailored to their unique needs.
The conventional way to search for a job is to look for openings in the newspaper and on the Internet. In addition, you could try two more simple but proven strategies, which require extra effort.
First, go for networking! Get in touch with all your friends, colleagues and relatives, and seek their help in guiding you to new job opportunities. Networking is like adding 40 to 50 more pairs of eyes to your own to look out for a new job.
Another powerful strategy is to get directly in touch with potential employers even if they have not advertised any vacancies. This method requires guts, but it works if you can contact the right person at the right place.
If you present yourself at an interview with a mindset that an interview is about answering questions, you are part of the crowd. Most people expect recruiters to ask probing questions to dig out relevant information and then make an assessment of their suitability.
Now, imagine a job seeker who takes the lead during an interview to not only demonstrate an understanding of the employer’s challenges, but also shows how she, with her relevant credentials, could meet those challenges. Don’t you think recruiters would be inclined to go for such a promising candidate?
The key is not to present yourself in an interview as a bundle of degrees, certificates and designations. Instead, do your homework before an interview and present yourself as the best solution to the employer’s specific challenges.
The bottom line: Remember, the tendency to go down the path of least effort is natural, but the job market is more likely to reward you if you deliberately put in extra effort at every stage of your job search process.