Before I got started with coaching, I knew a lady -- let's call her Judy -- who had recently been laid off. (After almost an entire lifetime of loyalty, working for the same company.) She was having a hard time finding a new job.
The more time passed, the harder it got. Before she knew it, she was applying to every job she saw or heard about. (Judy was one of the most hard-working and enterprising people I ever met.)
As the rejections and "no-responses" piled up though, she became increasingly more desperate and bitter.
Eventually, she could no longer bring herself to write another cover letter and send out another resume. Judy just decided to "retire early", and she devoted her life to supporting her husband and children instead.
She lost her confidence.
I was young at the time (back then I was at the University of Pennsylvania, studying psychology). Even then, though, I could see that Judy had a wealth of experience to offer, and would have been able to walk into a new team and begin solving problems and adding value right away.
Instead she was being pushed into "retiring early".
I hate telling this story, because it's more common that most folks realize.
(I could take out "Judy" and replace it with at least a dozen names.)
I know it makes many of my friends and customers angry (and me too -- I can feel my stress level rise as I write this).
And though I couldn't advise her then, the question that bugged me is:
What could Judy have done differently?
In my humble opinion -- from coaching hundreds (possibly even thousands) of men and women in the United States and around the world, who were in a similar place to Judy -- she shouldn't have burned herself out by following the "scattergun approach" to job hunting.
This is the way everyone else says you should do it, and it's WRONG.
This is not the same as having irons in the fire. Yes, it makes you feel productive at first when you apply for dozens perhaps even hundreds of jobs. And when the pressure kicks in after a few months of being jobless it's even more tempting.
Over time though, it erodes your confidence.
And it tires you out.
(Just to be clear: I'm not making Judy wrong. She worked hard, and she tried her best, and even though she offered a lot of value, she lost out because of a system that's rigged against her -- a system that makes it surprisingly hard to show talent.)
It's far better to apply to jobs selectively.
What I mean by that is, you uncover your core strengths -- and yes, that means your unique gift, which everyone I've ever worked with has, even it takes a little work to uncover -- and you carefully craft a resume, develop your story, and prepare answers to common interview questions that support your core strengths and positions you as the ideal candidate.
And, armed with these tools, you focus on the opportunities that are the right fit for you. Sometimes, there aren't jobs posted, but you can uncover or even create opportunities. When they are posted, you can invest the time in strategies that "cut the line".
This way is better than the "scatter gun" approach, because it's guaranteed to land you more interviews. (And even if some of these interviews fail to materialize into a job offer, they often lead to valuable networking opportunities you can use to get your foot into more doors.)
On top of that, you're far more likely to end up in the right job, where your talents are fully recognized and you are properly rewarded.
There's a very specific method for applying to jobs this way.
If you do it right, you can escape the "application blackhole".