Here’s what I’ve learned about applying for jobs over the years, and I think this information is pretty current. It’s also pretty obvious, so excuse this if it comes across as full of platitudes. My hope is that it will save you time and increase your success rate.

Firstly, if you don’t know a single person in or associated with the company you’ve seen a job ad for, think very hard before applying. It’s like getting an unsolicited invitation to tender for business, your success rate is 0 to 5%.  This sounds defeatist, but you have to go with the numbers and the politics.

One Job, Several Interlopers

One Job, Several Interlopers

Secondly, you can set up all the job alerts in the world, but it’s waste of your time to apply for the role if you don’t know who the company is. If you don’t know who the company is, you can’t consult your network to find out who you know who works there or with the company. You have to hope it’s a recruitment company that has the exclusive right to the role and is not simply trawling for CVs. Guess who’s in control there? The picture here is from a few years ago, and is clearly 4 different recruitment companies looking to hit the firm with candidates for the same role.

Thirdly, if someone reaches out to you, asking you if you’re interested in applying, this is a good sign. You’ve pulled them to you, rather than pushed yourself to them. Now you have some measure of control, because you know they’ve done the research and you look like a good fit.

Fourthly, and perhaps most transparently, it’s not what you know, it’s who you know, perhaps more so these days. Your network of contacts and experiences is unique to you and it’s an asset that should be secured and used to help yourself and other people you value.