Don’t Apply for That Job, Yet

I’ve recently been working with a couple of very distraught folks.  People who were looking for jobs. Desperately looking.  “What the Hell am I gonna do?” looking.  Guys with babies to feed, wives to comfort, mortgages to pay for, parents needing care.  Not having a job can be worse than terrifying.  It can feel suffocating, humiliating, life-threatening, even.  The lack of control, the uncertainty, the expectations, all put a huge burden on your soul.dont-apply-for-job

Most people in Telecoms have been “between jobs” at one time or another.  It is one of the facts of life.  It is the way things are.  It’s a rough patch for sure, but you must have faith that it will pass.  As much pressure as you feel, as much stress as you are under, as bleak as things seem now, try to maintain perspective.   The desperateness of your situation and the job you seek are not the same thing.  Allowing your desperation to show in a job application can hurt your chances.

Recruiters and hiring managers will respond to people that can be hired.  You’ll get your next job because you are competent, confident and likable.  If you show the desperation you feel it will detract from your confidence and make you seem, well, desperate.  That won’t be good.  Here is what you should do instead.

Step 1: Begin Before You Need

Managing your career is a full-time job, a job you have to do even when you are already working.  Part of managing your career is to prepare yourself and your network of connections for the day when you will want a new position.

Don’t wait until you get the sack or your contract ends or you quit.  Re-read A LinkedIn Profile That Gets You Noticed.  Then edit your profile. Prepare your profile for the day when you will really need it.  Don’t wait. If you don’t manage your career, it won’t support you when you need it most.

When your profile is as good as it can be, re-read How to Showcase Your LinkedIn Profile and 5 Career Boosters in 5 Minutes.  These posts coach you how to keep your name in front of people and to grow your LinkedIn network.  If you follow the posts and work on them a little each day, they will help you grow your network so that you will have a larger pool of connections when you begin your next job search.

Step 2: Know What You Are Looking For

Let’s imagine you are ready to begin actively looking for a new position.  Right now, it doesn’t matter how you got to this point, though that could be important later.  Now, think about what you want and what you can accept.

  • Consider what kind of employment you want.  Do you want a contract or a part-time or full-time job?  Do you want the 9 to 5 or some kind of off-shift work?
  • What about the location?  Are you willing to relocate or commute?  How far?
  • Think about the role.  Do you want to do the same thing you have been doing, or something a little different?  have you acquired some new skills in your current or previous position?  Do you want advancement or a promotion?

When you have a pretty clear idea what types of roles you want and would accept, only then should you start seriously looking.  If you look before you really understand what you want you are likely to be disappointed.  Worse, you might potentially upset a recruiter, and that is a huge no-no.  So fix clearly in your mind the kinds of roles which interest you and focus on only those roles.

Be ruthless when you consider positions. If you see one which is close but not really what you want, be strong.  Don’t give in to the temptation to settle for less than you wanted.  Balance your desire to get what you want with your desire to find a new position. Yes, this can force hard trade-offs.  But only you can decide what is right for you.

If your search begins to drag on longer than you expected, you can revisit your requirements and adjust if you think that is necessary.  It is up to you to know how long is too long.  Otherwise, be patient and have faith that something will come along.  There are other ways to look, but that is a subject for a separate article.

Step 3: This One Looks Good

Finally!  You’ve seen a job posting that looks good to you.  It seems to meet the requirements you’ve set for yourself.  Congratulations.  Remain calm.  Fight the urge to reply immediately.  Read the posting several more times, for clarity.

Follow any links embedded in the posting, for a couple of reasons.  You are likely to learn more about the position.  That’s a good reason all by itself.  More importantly, you will also see something the poster wanted you to see.  If you ever get to speak with this job poster, they will appreciate that you followed their instructions.

You also should research the job poster. Read their LinkedIn profile, read their company web page.  The more you know, the better able you will be to deliver a laser-like, focused response.

Before sending that response, think about what is the goal of this first response, this first contact with the job poster.  It is not to get a job offer.  It is too soon for that.

The goal of the initial response is to have the job poster contact you.

The more senior your level, the more important this becomes.  I hope you now understand the purpose of this initial contact.

One more point needs to be emphasized, only because it is such a common mistake.  DO NOT send the poster a “please check my profile” message on LinkedIn.  If you are tempted to do this, stop.  Imagine that you are the job poster, and dozens or even hundreds of people “apply” in this way.  These “applicants” did no work to apply for this position. All they did was to ask the poster to do work: visit their profile to see if they really are qualified.  As the job poster, what would you do?  Do you think the job poster will be keen to even speak with, let alone hire someone this lazy?

On the other hand, you have the chance to impress the job poster with how hard you are willing to work to get this position, how much of the poster’s job you will do for them.  For this reason, I encourage you to figure out how to message the job poster directly.  This could be a challenge if they have not provided contact information.  But the greater the challenge, the less likely anyone else will do it.  Which makes you look even better.

Assuming you can contact the job poster, send them a mail having 2 attachments.

  1. A one-page summary of your qualifications, experience, and contributions relative to the position requirements.  The contributions part is very important.  This tells the poster how you have responded before to these specific requirements.  For this to be effective, you must be able to focus on the specific requirements of this position.  What this does is reduce the poster’s risk that talking to you is worth their time.
  2. Your CV.  If the poster likes the one-pager you sent, having your CV already there saves them time.

If I were the recruiter or hiring manager, I would be grateful to any applicant who made this greater effort to make me aware of their interest and qualifications. Compared to the “check my profile” lot, you will be at a tremendous advantage.

Click this link to get my one page Job Applicant’s Cheat Sheet.

Job Applicant’s Cheat Sheet


No, I don’t want any help.

Do you know someone in the job market?  Kindly share this article with them so that they can have the best possible chance.

I’m interested to know what you think about this Cheat Sheet.  Please leave a reply with your thoughts.  Thanks

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