Buckshot vs. target practice

A friend and reader forwarded me an article this morning on the “new” approach to job search.  Some good tips, but overall, most of you know most of this already.  I call this the “buckshot” approach.  (Really, I call it the multi-prong approach…but for the sake of the article, “buckshot” has a nice ring to it!)

The buckshot approach basically consists of throwing all you’ve got to all the possible avenues there are for finding work and hoping something sticks.  It means applying online to every job that you fit, while massaging your resume to match the keywords that automated programs will look for in digging out a hundred candidates out of the thousand that will be weeded out in applying for each job.  It means broadening your network, attending events, seminars, your synagogues and churches, handing out business cards, developing a social media strategy, honing and rehoning your resume and also developing sniper skills through target practice.  That means setting your sights on particular companies and working to get a foot in the door — through connections, phone calls, applications, internships, etc.  It’s a crazy-tough job market improving at a snail’s pace, with that many more people going to work each day wondering if they’ll be pink-slipped before day’s end.  One tiny note in the article referred to the lost courtesy of sending rejection letters.  The other day, a friend of mine actually received a rejection letter and was bizarrely delighted (because she was rejected) that the company  did take the time to tell her she wasn’ t the right fit for them. 

That courtesy, of sending letters of rejection, got me thinking.  Which is worse?  Getting hundreds of letters of rejection as a testament to your failed attempts at finding work?  Or just being ignored, which would be like the guy taking your number, in line, at a grocery store, and just never calling?

I thought back to 1990.  The year I moved away from my career in film (and Toronto) to a transition, through marriage, and a move (to Ottawa).  My husband had a job, which is why we moved, and I had decided to forsake my film career and make a move to the regular business world.  This was just at the beginning of personal computers.  I didn’t yet know how to use Word 4.0, owned a PS1 with one video game.  No one was applying for jobs online — heck no one was posting online.  There was no Monster, no Careerbuilder, no Indeed or Simply Hired.  I was a Kelly Girl (temp) and looking for a job with no transferrable skills.  Since I was living in the nation’s capital, it only made sense to try to find a job in government, so I dutifully sent out about 400 letters and resumes to every member of parliament I could get an address for.  And I received…oh…just about 400 rejection letters.  There were so many of them, this testament to my failure, that I really got discouraged and depressed.  I was just about to toss them all in the garbage, when I decided, instead, to use them as wallpaper in my dismal little basement office.  Heck, figured it would be good for a laugh and brighten up my walls with the crisp white and linen stationary.  So I took a day and glued and papered and there were enough rejection letters to paper a complete alcove.  It made me feel kinda good — in a bizarre and cynical way.  In any event, I’ve not forgotten the experience or how crushing all those letters were to my already fragile ego.  Personally, I’d have preferred if the courtesy had been overlooked and if I’d just gotten lost in the shuffle. 

I hear from readers who get so upset because they don’t hear back from companies they’ve applied to.  I think it is better to think of job search rejection more in terms of the dating game.  If a guy likes you, he’ll call.  If he wants you, he’ll find you.  Same with a company.  If they want you, they won’t lose your contact info.  They’ll bring you in.  If you don’t hear back from them after interview, they have someone they like just a little bit better.  Same as the date guy –if you go out on a date and don’t hear from him within a few days, he’s juggling around a few gals and sorting out who he wants to go out with again. 

So, buckshot theory on dating?  Date a lot and see what sticks.  Target practice?  Identify a few guys, indicate your interest, but don’t stalk them.  If he likes you he’ll find you.

Buckshot theory on job search?  Apply a lot and see what sticks.  Target practice?  Identify a few companies, indicate your interest and try to get a foot in the door, but don’t stalk them.  If anyone is interested in you, they’ll contact you.

As for wallpaper?  First of all, like the letters of rejection, wallpaper isn’t really in style, unless you are working with a designer.  So head over to Dunn Edwards, get a lovely, warm, light tone (like Undercover), and give a fresh coat of paint to the area around your desk yourself.

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