It takes a lot of time and effort to send out a job application, and for this reason, you need to make sure that every application you send out counts. You can do this by being highly selective in your job search and only applying to jobs for which you know you are a great fit. You should assess the suitability of any role by asking yourself a set of screening questions that will sort the good opportunities from bad. Here are five of those questions:
1. Do You Have an Influential Contact at the Company?
Do you know a manager or employee within the company who is respected and/or influential, who can vouch for your skills and recommend you to the business? If you do, then this is a very positive sign, and your chances of both getting an interview and getting hired will be greatly enhanced. A study from the Federal Reserve Bank of New York revealed that candidates who have been referred by someone in the company were twice as likely to be called to interview and had a 40 percent better chance of being selected for the job than non-referred candidates. Prioritize companies where you have contacts.
2. Would You Hire Yourself if You Were the Hiring Manager?
This is an excellent role-playing technique that can encourage you to think more honestly about whether or not you are the right fit for the role. Put yourself in the shoes of the hiring manager. Imagine it was your team and you were hiring someone to help you hit your goals. Ask yourself: would you hire you? Why you would hire you?
Find out all you can about the company, its values, its products, its services, and its challenges, and think specifically about the challenges that you — as the hiring manager — may face. This will help you make the exercise more authentic.
You may find that, at the end of this exercise, there’s no possible way you’d hire yourself, which means you might want to shelve this opportunity and focus on applying to places where you have more realistic chances.
3. Does Your Application Stand Out, Compared to the Rest of the Marketplace?
Put yourself in the head of the recruiter/hiring manager who is drafting the interview short list. Once again, take a look at your skills and experience and try to benchmark yourself not against the advertisement, but against other candidates in the marketplace. If you have skills A, B, and C, but you think this combination of skills is common in the marketplace, then you won’t really stand out. However, if you have skills A, B, C, and D, with D being a valuable but rare quality, your application really does stand out, making you a strong candidate for the role. Try to favor roles where your application stands out among your competitors.
4. Does the Company Culture Suit You?
A lot of companies hire for culture fit. Some use more superficial means to assess this fit, such as the fact that you share the same hobbies and interests as your hiring manager/future colleagues. Others use more substantial measures of culture fit, assessing things like your communication style, working style, team working preferences, decision-making style, values, management style, and so on. If the culture of the company doesn’t suit you, not only would your chances of interview success be diminished, but you probably wouldn’t be effective or happy in the job, even if you did get it. Prioritize companies with cultures that suit you in order to maximize your interview success rate.
5. Does the Role Fit Your Personal and Career Aspirations?
It may sound obvious, but it’s best not to gloss over this question. Take a good look at the role and determine if the job scope, duties, responsibilities, and career potential are in line with your current expectations and future career aspirations. Can this company fulfill you, both now and in the future? Can you grow in this company? If you find a role in which you may not see much potential for growth, you may still decide to take it: it could offer valuable short-term experience. However, it usually makes sense to prioritize companies at which you have the opportunity to grow.