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Careers 101

Tailor your job search


Q: I am applying to as many jobs as I can each day but not getting a response. Should I be applying for more positions?

A:  When initiating a job search, it is easy to become overwhelmed by the sheer number of job openings out there. However, as in many aspects of life, more is not necessarily better. When choosing positions to apply to, it is essential to emphasize quality over quantity. Many students and alumni have told us that they have applied to “hundreds of jobs” with no interviews or offers. Just because you apply to hundreds of jobs doesn’t mean you are applying for the jobs that are right for you. Instead of submitting a generic resume and cover letter to 100 different job openings, select only those that are a good fit for you, and submit tailored application materials to each one.

There are several criteria to use in assessing the degree of fit of each job opening you have identified. Things to consider include the interest and skill match, salary, culture of the organization, company growth, colleagues and commute. Take some time to answer the questions of why and how each position could be a good fit for you: Do you possess the skills the employer is seeking? Does the organization sound like one that complements your work-related values? Will you have a commute that is manageable? If the answer to these questions (and others that may be particularly important to you in evaluating jobs) is yes, it is likely to be an appropriate job for which you will want to apply. Some other tips to help you increase the quality of your applications:

  • Apply for jobs for which you are qualified. You do not have to meet every requirement listed on the posting, but note carefully what is listed as “required” versus “desired.” You should meet at least 75% of the required qualifications to submit a strong application.
  • Craft highly distinct cover letters and resumes for each position you apply for; it is essential to add in some uniqueness to your self-marketing documents. Employers want to know that you are interested in them and have taken the time to learn about their company. There is no such thing as a “blanket cover letter.” Every document needs to be tailored for the specific job you are applying for. Make sure to add in what it is about the company that resonates with you and how you can help them achieve their mission.
  • Use your network. When possible, reach out if you have a contact in that company or industry. Let him or her know you have applied for a position and seek any advice or a referral if possible.

With the help of a quality-focused job search, you are likely to find a job that is a great fit for you.

Ask a career coach your question.

Specially trained in career services, the career coaches offered by University of Phoenix as a complimentary resource form a network across the United States. All coaches hold a master’s degree in counseling or a related field, and have years of experience in assisting students and alumni in reaching their career goals.