Writing customized resumes and cover letters is time-consuming and downright exhausting. Before wasting your time and effort applying for hundreds of jobs, make your job search more efficient by asking yourself the following questions.

Do I fit the job description?

How often have you applied for a job thinking, “Well, I can do some or most of these things. Might as well give it a shot?” While this is admirable, you are wasting your time. Certain abilities are listed on a job description for a reason. Spoiler alert: they want to hire an individual with those skills!

If you lack key qualifications when you submit your resume through an applicant tracking system, it could be pushed aside without the hiring manager even seeing it. If the job description requires experience you don’t have, spend your time on other applications.

Your resume may also get thrown out if you are overqualified for a position. Companies are wary of you as an overqualified candidate because they worry about you getting bored or moving on to a more appropriate opportunity. And, frankly, you probably would get bored.

An honest assessment of your abilities will help you quickly filter out potential jobs, saving time and getting you one step closer to a new job that is within reach and worthy of your skills.

Will this job help me reach my goals?

When you are looking for a job, you want to find one that will do more than just supply a paycheck every month. You want a job that will help push you towards your ideal career. Challenge and stretch yourself. When you are looking through job descriptions, ask yourself if this job will help you hone the skills you need for your dream job. Will you be able to grow and move up within the company?

Your career goals may also revolve around your family and lifestyle. You may prioritize a job that offers flexibility and allows you to spend quality time with your family. Or one that provides stability and protects them. If this is a part of your goals, you probably don’t want a job that is all consuming or one that lacks security. Determine your goals and find a job that will help you reach them.

Would I fit in at this company?

Every company has a distinct and unique culture. Some personalities will thrive in one job but not another. When you find a job that you are interested in, delve deeper into the company culture. Look at their company website, visit their social media pages, and look up employee reviews on Glassdoor.

What do their current and past employees say about them? From what you read, does it seem like this is an environment in which you can thrive and grow? Do your research on company values. What is their mission statement? Does it align with what you believe? Do the company’s values match your own? If so, then this might be the right job to apply for.

Do I have networking capabilities?

It is no secret that networking is one of the best ways to get a job. You are far more likely to get an interview and land that job if you have an employee reference to go along with your resume. In fact, many surveys find that between 70 and 85% of job openings are filled through networking.

As you begin your job search, look into companies where you have a connection who would be willing to put in a good word for you. Utilize LinkedIn and other social media networks to build relationships and help advance your career. Knowing an individual within the company can also come in handy when finding out about the company’s culture. You can ask them what they like and what they dislike about working at their job. This is a great way to find out if a job is right for you.

Do I stand out enough to get the job?

Sometimes it is hard to showcase ourselves because we don’t want to come off as prideful or annoying. When it comes to applying for a job, this mindset could hurt you. Hiring managers look at hundreds of resumes when filling a position. If you don’t stand out, you will just be one of many thrown to the side. Take one more look at the job description and determine which requirements you possess that will stand out amongst the rest. Highlight these skills in your resume and cover letter. Don’t be afraid to put all your abilities on display for everyone to see.

Would I hire myself for this position?

It can be hard to identify your own strengths and weaknesses. Try to look at yourself through the eyes of a hiring manager. Would you hire yourself? Why or why not? This is a great way to identify which jobs you have a very real chance of getting. If you aren’t sure about your strengths and weaknesses, turn to your friends and family. A third party can give you a fresh perspective on your skillset.

“Should I apply for the job?” Sometimes the thought of job hunting makes you want to curl up in a ball, so don’t waste your time and effort applying for jobs you’re unlikely to get or jobs you don’t even want. Asking yourself these questions before taking the time to apply for a job will help you understand exactly what it is you want from a job or possible career. This understanding will help you find the right job quickly and efficiently.

About Micaiah:

Micaiah is a writer for the Built for Teams blog. Built for Teams is a new, easy to use suite of HR tools designed specifically for small and medium sized businesses. It was created by the team of UX/UI designers at Objective Inc. Micaiah also enjoys hiking, camping, tennis, and playing the piano.

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