The more jobs you apply for, the more interviews you’re likely to get. But that doesn’t mean you should churn out applications and resumes like it’s your job.
Like most of life’s endeavors, searching for a job after graduation requires finding a happy medium.
Last April, 53.6% of people under the age of 25 with bachelor’s degrees were either jobless or underemployed, according to USA TODAY. Within this demographic, more people held positions as waiters, waitresses, bartenders and food-service helpers than as engineers, physicists, chemists and mathematicians combined.
To avoid following this pattern, it is important to establish a game plan for navigating the job market — specifically, one that finds the balance between relying too heavily on one possibility and blindly applying for every job for which you might qualify.
A common mistake among job seekers is to put all of their eggs into one basket by focusing on singular job openings and allowing other prospects to fall to the wayside, according to a recent column by Andrea Kay in USA TODAY. In an uncertain and ever-changing market, even the most confident applicant cannot risk ignoring potential leads for a position that feels like a shoo-in.
Patty Corrigan, a career counselor at the Boston College Career Center, reminds students that when searching for a job, there is no such thing as a sure thing.
“The job search needs to be considered a process, something that takes time, needs to nurtured and attended to on a consistent basis,” Corrigan said. “For some students, they may apply for five jobs and receive five offers. For others, they may apply to 100, interview for 10 and get one offer. There is not a magic number, but the more jobs you apply for the more likely you are to secure an interview and the more interviews you go to the more likely you are to get an offer.”
To many college students, interning seems like the logical path to lock down a future career. The Student Career Development Study found that 85% of college students rank internships as important to their future. In spite of this, only 40% of students surveyed had ever held an internship position, many of which only lasted for a few months and were unpaid.
As beneficial as internships can be, Corrigan warns against assuming that interning with a company guarantees you an office of your own down the road.
“The company may need to lay off staff, the person to whom you would report takes a new job … You never know what goes on behind closed doors,” she said. “Don’t assume you have an offer unless it is in writing and you have signed the contract.”
On the flip side, job hunters should avoid submitting applications to every company within their field that lists an opening.
“If you are constantly churning out resumes, chances are you are not networking and following up with the positions that you applied for,” Corrigan said. “A lot more goes into landing an interview than sending out resumes.”
The Huffington Post recently reported that the simplicity of online submissions has revolutionized the application process, as over 70% of resumes that are sent to companies belong to unqualified and uninterested applicants. Because of this influx of extraneous applications, employers have turned to applicant tracking systems (ATS) to search for key buzz-words within resumes and cover letters and determine which candidates to pursue.
Corrigan recommends taking advantage of university career services and alumni connections ahead of time to circumvent the abyss of online applications. She also emphasizes the need to follow up with potential employers through a phone call or email once your materials have been sent in to request an interview.
When you do find yourself hired, it is important to maintain a substantial network of people within your field for if you ever re-enter the job hunt. According to Corrigan, this is as simple as making yourself a resource for those who are still in the midst of the application process.
“Always be willing to help others,” she said. “Most likely, someone helped you along the way, and there will come a time when you are job searching again and you will want people to remember how helpful you were while they were searching. I like to believe that what you put out there will come back to you.”