Addition by Subtraction: Think Quality Over Quantity in Your Job Search
Young woman interviews for position as part of her job search.

Embarking on a job search can be exciting and stressful at the same time. This is especially true of getting accepted for a job interview. Obviously, you want to make the best first impression that you can, and highlight your skills and qualifications to your prospective employer.

It may seem logical that the more interviews you get, the more likely it is that you’ll land your “dream job.” However, should getting more interviews really be your main goal? The ancient writer Seneca once remarked that “when a man doesn’t know which harbor he is making for, no wind is the right wind.” His point was clear: exerting oneself without a specific purpose in mind won’t lead to success, only frustration.

With that in mind, let’s discuss why the quality of your interviews should be more important to you than their quantity.

Why More Interviews Shouldn’t Be Your Main Goal (and What You Should Focus On Instead)

1. It’s better to spend more time in research on the front end, so you can spend less time on applications and interviews that lead nowhere.

There are only so many hours in the day, and so much energy that you can expend. You don’t want to waste your efforts on job openings that won’t take you where you want to go. With that in mind, invest in intensive research at the outset of your job search. Make a clear list of criteria that a prospective employer must meet in order for you to consider them further. Some items that you may want to put on that list include:

  • Your desired work schedule
  • Your desired salary
  • Benefits that you consider essential
  • Key indications of solid management and good communication (for instance, whether the recruiter returns your calls in a timely manner, or there’s a clear “chain of command” manifest throughout the application process)

If you define your basic requirements at the start of your job search, it will save you a ton of time and hassle on the back end.

2. You should base your job search on what you need, not on what’s available.

To go back to the metaphor mentioned earlier, you need to understand which “harbor” you want to make for. What’s important to you at this point in your career? If you’re leaving a role with your current employer, can you clearly identify why you are doing so, and what needs to be different in your next position?

Another big factor to think about is culture. What type of culture would be a good fit for your personality, goals, and values? Does the company you’re investigating have a track record of sticking to its core values? You want to ensure that the move you make will bring you closer to your goal, not just get you out of your current position.

3. Sometimes you shouldn’t wait for “greener pastures.”

Let’s say you identify an employer that seems to be a good, but not the perfect fit for your needs and goals. You interview with the company, and they eventually offer you a job. Should you take it right away, or keep looking for something better?

While each situation is unique, it would be wise to consider the possible consequences of holding out for that perfect job that checks each and every box on your list. For one thing, that “perfect job” may not exist (at least, not in your market). In addition, you could miss out on a great opportunity that’s already present.

Even though it’s a candidate-friendly market right now, things can change quickly. The grass may be greener on the other side; but if you have green grass in front of you now, why take the risk?

4. More interviews require a higher level of organization.

If you’ve only secured a handful of interviews, it should be relatively easy to keep track of them. You’ll be able to stay organized on which roles you’ve applied for, which responsibilities are associated with each role, and what unique value you can bring to the table for each employer.

Of course, the more interviews you have, the harder it will be to keep them straight in your mind. It may become confusing in terms of what interactions you previously had with the company, or what stage of the interview process you’re currently at. You may have to use an organization tool (or multiple tools) to keep track of everything.

The bottom line is that landing more interviews, while not necessarily a bad thing, does demand more attention to detail from you as the candidate.

5. You need to take care of your own physical and mental health.

For many job seekers, the interview process is not only time-consuming but also energy-draining. Constantly putting your “best foot forward” for strangers can be mentally and even physically taxing. This is true in the case of both in-person interviews and (perhaps more so) virtual interviews. “Zoom fatigue” is a real phenomenon many are experiencing now.

While participating in interviews is an unavoidable part of the application process, you want to ensure that you give appropriate attention to your mental health throughout your job search. Scheduling a lot of interviews in a short time isn’t worth experiencing burnout. 

Work With an Experienced Recruiter To Help You Narrow Down Your Options

The sheer volume of open positions right now can leave a candidate feeling overwhelmed. However, you don’t have to fill out your applications blindly. When you know what “harbor” you’re making for, you can eliminate any job that would take you in the opposite direction.

Working with an experienced recruitment partner – one that understands your specific needs and preferences – can be a huge asset. For instance, our experts at The Doyle Group can provide some “addition by subtraction” by helping you weed out the jobs that just won’t work for you. (And once you’ve secured quality interviews, here are some tips for helping you get an offer quicker.) In the end, we’ll help you reach your “destination:” a job that not only pays well but is truly satisfying!

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