Re-Vamp Your Job Search Strategy - Part 3: Apply
Throughout this series, I've walked you through the preliminary steps of an effective job search strategy, beginning with researching companies that you're interested in and then connecting with people who work there. Interestingly, most job seekers skip steps one and two entirely and only do the last step-applying. This is a large part of why the average job search takes several months.
When you engage all three aspects of this strategy, you will be reducing your job search time and increasing your future job satisfaction by focusing on companies where you'd be a good fit. You may have guessed that this approach actually takes a fair amount more effort up front, which is one reason why a lot of job seekers don't do it and just go right to applying. The good news, however, is that because you are putting in more time and effort in the beginning, it will end up reducing your overall search time. That's what I call a short-term pain for a long-term gain.
Not everyone that you contact in Step Two will reply to you. This is just a fact of life. Some people are open to talking directly to prospective candidates, and some are not. Don't be discouraged if not everyone replies. You only need one job, right? So, start casting a wide net in order to find people that will engage with you.
The benefit of connecting before you apply is that you can ask questions about the position and sometimes uncover new insights about it. This can help you to know what changes you might want to make on your resume before you submit it. Additionally, it simply helps you to establish a rapport and a likeability factor with them. You want to do everything that you can to stay "top of mind" with them and reaching out for a conversation is a great way to do that. Again, not everyone will reply but some of them will so don't get discouraged!
Now, you can finally apply for the position. Ideally, if you have been able to have a conversation with someone (or at least get a direct email address), you can apply by sending your resume right to them. This is far more impactful than just submitting through a job board and falling into the black hole. When you wrap up the conversation, ask them: "I'd like to go ahead and send you my resume to apply for the position. What email address should I send it to?"
Of course, if you are unable to make a connection then you can go ahead and apply on the company website or job board.
Can you apply with your LinkedIn profile?
In most cases, I don't recommend applying directly with your LinkedIn profile unless the application indicates that this is the preferred method. Your profile serves primarily to pique their interest and get them to want your resume. If you do this, make sure your profile is very complete and is targeted to that role.
That wraps the three-part series! I hope you are walking away with a more concrete job search strategy. Good luck!