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The Endless Ordeal of Job Applications
Applying for hundreds and hundreds of jobs is dauntingly inefficient
I am very fond of reading Oscar Wilde tales. It inspires me so much that I once tried writing a story on the lines. The following is an excerpt of such a tale, in which the takeaway correlates to the wisdom I want to share with you today. I hope you enjoy it.
The Fishermen of Mount Ordeals
Once upon a time, in a quaint village near Mount Ordeals, there resided two fishermen whose fates were as contrasting as the hues of a summer dawn. Their names were Edgar and Percival, but the locals, in their peculiar fashion, addressed them fondly as "Eddie the Bountiful" and "Penniless Percy." Sobriquets due to their respective fortunes at the shared trade.
Eddie, with his piscatorial prowess, was the envy of all, returning home with resplendent spoils that could sustain his kin for days on end. Percy, on the other hand, cast his nets with hope but only netted meager minnows, forever yearning to unlock the esoteric secrets of his peer's success.
One day, as the sun was gently dipping beyond the horizon, Percy approached Eddie by the water's edge. "Dear Eddie," he implored, "reveal to me the secrets of your success so that I may no longer languish in the shallows of destitution."
Eddie smiled benevolently and offered Percy his sage counsel. "Firstly," he began, "one must learn to listen to the water's whispers. It divulges the fish's preferred haunt and their delectable desires. Secondly, be not hasty in casting your net. A discerning angler knows that the proper bait and the precise moment of casting are the very keystones of a bountiful catch."
Burdened by fruitless endeavors, Percy had a revelatory moment. Beneath Eddie's eloquence, he comprehended that his vexations did not stem from the tools one uses, but rather from limited knowledge of the sea's enigmatic secrets, the art of bait, and the elusive haunts of aquatic denizens. In this epiphany, akin to a profound Ordean maxim etched upon his heart, Percy realized that true prosperity lay not solely in casting wide nets but in the delicate mastery of hidden truths.
Tools Alone Don’t Make a Great Fisherman
In the above tale, Percy comes to realize that using the widest of the nets won’t do him any good by casting it upon empty lakes. He must first learn where the fish are, at the best casting time, and what are their preferred bait.
The same applies to job search. Writing the perfect resumé, using tools to monitor job applications, and sending applications at hundreds, won’t help you get lucky. You first must identify a great market and select roles optimizing for maximum fit.
What Defines a Great Market
In his book, “100M Offers”, Alex Hormozi says the best market is the one with a starving crowd. By that, he means that out of all potential markets, we should pick the ones where they are willing to pay well and there is low competition.
Besides the direct correlation between skills and the market, the latter is more important than the former. Hard to believe, isn’t it? I like to think about the example that Alex illustrated in his book.
If you sell hotdogs, and you do it in front of a food court with many restaurant chains and options for people to pick from, it will be a hard sell, even if your hotdog tastes better than a piece of fillet mignon cooked and seasoned by Gordon Ramsey.
However, if you sell hotdogs inside the stadium of a baseball game, with lots of starving fans, after a long game, no matter how bad your hotdog tastes, you will be completely sold out at the end of the game.
The same happens with the job market. If you try to sell yourself, only by your skills, to a massive number of companies that will likely compare you to other candidates, it will be a tough call.
Now that you understand what a great market is, let’s dive into how to define it and find the potential companies we will apply for.
Researching Companies and Jobs Descriptions
Start by researching how much companies pay someone with your experience, skills, and specialty in the location you seek to be employed. There are great websites like Levels.fyi, Teamblind.com, or even LinkedIn that can help you get a sense of your marketability. Also, survey for how these companies are doing, how is the internal sentiment, and which teams are actively hiring.
A couple of weeks ago, you learned how to market yourself with a single solid and resonating message. With the set of skills and expertise you pitch on your resumé, imagine companies would kill to have you onboard and why.
Google can help you find them through a sharp and refined search. After all, they are the biggest web indexer on the planet, which means they also index jobs published out there, including ones on LinkedIn.
Here is an example of a search query you can use if you are a Distributed Systems Engineer (role) with experience in Java (skill) and focus on Identity Management and Security (context) in the San Francisco Bay Area (location):
(site:linkedin.com/jobs/view/ | site:jobs.lever.co | site:boards.greenhouse.io | site:jobs.ashbyhq.com | site:app.dover.io | site:briohr.com | site:workable.com) (engineer | developer) (java | jvm | kotlin) (distributed | "distributed systems") (IAM | “Identity Management” | "Access Management") ("San Francisco" | "San Francisco Bay Area") (principal | staff | senior) -android -junior -fullstack
After doing some research about the company and the team, save the job descriptions you liked in a separate list. Read them all and identify what is the unique aspect that makes them alike.
If you searched correctly for roles with the required skills you possess, experience in the domain you have, and in the area you are based or want to be in, you now have everything you need to pitch yourself as the perfect candidate, reducing the chances of candidates that possess only “skill fit”.
You can also get back to the research step and focus on the companies you found in your job search. Rinse and repeat.
Wrapping Up with a Quick Recap and Next Steps
Today, we learned together:
The effort you put into applying for best-fit roles is minimal compared to mass applications.
That having the best fit automatically puts us at a competitive advantage.
We should research the companies and roles before applying for a job.
How and where we can gather info from roles and companies as well as our own market value.
So far, in our journey to become undeniably the best fit for hiring managers and recruiters utilizing the push-and-pull strategy, we have learned:
Next week, we will talk about how to use the job descriptions to identify skills and context fit.
I will see you then!