The Truth About Job Postings

What you need to know for your next career move

When and How to Rely on Job Postings

It is a strange time in the economy. And if you are in job search mode, it can feel uncertain and scary. 

A client recently expressed discouragement from seeing 200+ applicants for a role posted on LinkedIn that he thought was a good fit. And you may see career advice that says to ignore job postings entirely, but I disagree.

Here’s what you need to know.

Key Highlights

  • Strong candidates should NOT be put off by the number of applicants.
  • Apply strongly and use effective follow-up to jump the queue.
  • Include other channels than just job posting as part of your strategy.

Don’t be Put Off by a Large Number of Applicants

The number of applicants should not determine whether you apply for a posting or not.

For more experienced, senior, and specialized roles, the 80/20 rule applies. Even 95/5. Only a small percentage of the applicants will actually be attractive candidates; most of the applicants aren’t a match. Many are over-relying on a spray-and-pray approach to their “search.”

Don’t let that be you. Don’t waste your time and energy. We want results. So, the caveat to point #1 is to only apply to jobs you feel you are a great fit for.

Job Postings Are a Legitimate Channel for Career Opportunities

But, I advise everyone not to put all their job search eggs in the same basket. There are multiple channels to career opportunities like recruiters, networks and referrals, and targeting decision makers at companies directly.

Job postings are one channel and shouldn’t be your only channel. This is important! 

Other things to consider:

  • There are industries, roles, and titles where people already in those fields can do very well with job postings (financial services is one such field).
  • There are pockets of demand where there’s enough supply, and postings work great.
  • Candidates with matching job titles, strong brands attached to their experience, and a great trajectory tend to have an advantage.

Here’s a way to test it: 

If, when you begin your job search, you see an abundance of fresh and interesting postings that you know you are a strong candidate for, then that’s a signal to start there. If the opposite is true, that’s a signal to double down on networks and targeted approaches.

You will get stronger results when you take a selective, targeted approach to job postings backed up by strong marketing materials (resume, cover letter) and a polished and compelling LinkedIn profile.

Optimize Your Application Activity

Here are some simple but effective tips:

Be selective

Is this a compelling opportunity, and are you a good match? You do NOT need to match all the requirements (companies often look for a unicorn and advertise accordingly).

There should, however, be experience and expertise that you bring that’s central to the role’s priorities. Use the 70% rule. Additionally, you should feel confident that you possess the personal qualities required. This should significantly improve your conversion rate.

Apply strongly

In some cases, create a tailored resume. And I advocate for a “why you” message that hits the key target outcomes of the role. 

If you are going to apply, do it well. Add a cover letter or message written using benefits language. It doesn’t have to be long. Additionally, make sure your LinkedIn profile is polished, compelling, and on-target.

Send a follow-up LinkedIn message or email

Express your keen interest and highlight one or two areas of fit. Respect their process while using the message to bring your profile to their attention.

(Tip: When a recruiter has hundreds of applicants to wade through and receives a polite and helpful message from someone who appears to be a fit, that person will likely get more attention.)

Go Beyond Job Postings with a Proactive, Multi-Channel Approach

Postings, in most cases, should not be the only channel to opportunities. Job postings are a passive approach that comes with greater risk and the most competition. 

The risk is higher for those people making significant pivots, with non-standard backgrounds, or in job/industry areas with fewer opportunities. 

So, be sure to:

Leverage other channels

Cultivate the relevant recruitment firms. Develop and reach out to your network. Research and target specific organizations. Job postings only represent a fraction of the opportunities available in the market.

For optimal results, be proactive, strategic, and intentional in your efforts. Even better, build career capital, a strong profile, and the network power that generates a stream of ongoing opportunities and referrals for you.

Additional Resources

Giving Effective Feedback Course

How to Get Promoted and Reach the Next Level

CFI Career Map

See all career resources

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