Target Your Job Search

  | James Innes

Target your job search

Even with an excellent and professionally prepared CV, it’s not always easy to land interviews with many companies. For most of us, we need to be smart about improving our chances of landing an interview.  One thing you should think about before you proceed is targeting your search.

Targeting your search

Targeting your search is critical not just to find the right kind of job for your interests but also to ensure that you have a fighting chance of getting a job. There are wide differences in the ease of getting jobs in different industries.  Investment Banking and Management Consulting are generally the most in-demand industries and therefore can afford to be the most selective – hence their targeted recruitment at top academic institutions.  Furthermore, there are wide differences in the ease of getting jobs in different firms within a given industry. Finally, there are sometimes different degrees of selectivity across different divisions within a given firm. Looking at Investment Banking again, M&A is generally regarded as the most glamorous division of investment banks, with M&A bankers often having the most visible public profiles.  Unsurprisingly, M&A departments are often the most selective.  You need to be realistic - is your CV strong enough for you to compete with the other candidates trying to break into your industry, and within that industry is it strong enough for you to compete with other candidates to get into a given firm or given division? 

Pitching your profile

Let’s suppose that you have the aspiration to work in a particular industry and that you are a decent candidate, but are far from the outstanding candidate with first class degrees and top tier professional experience.  The simple fact of the matter is that you have little chance of being awarded an interview at one of the first tier of firms in a number of industries.  The recruiters at these firms know that they can recruit the very best and expect most to accept their offers.  However, if you target below the first tier, into the second and third tier of firms, you are much more likely to get an invitation to interview.  These firms realise that they are not first tier recruiters and therefore also realise that there is little point giving interviews to candidates who are more likely to end up going to first tier firms.  Recruiters care about their ‘hit-rates’, the conversion rate of offers into acceptances, and therefore will similarly target a level of candidate whom they think likely to accept offers.  Pitching your profile at the right tier of company within a given industry is critical.

Research, plan and prepare

How do you pitch your profile at the right tier of company?  The first thing you need to do is your research – look at industry rankings, read the press, speak to career services and ask around.   It is not hard to figure out a rough pecking order in an industry.   You will also educate and help prepare your self for the interview stage in the process.  The second thing you need to do is to be honest with yourself and know where you lie in your peer group in terms of your paper calibre (how strong your CV is).  Thirdly, when it comes to applying to different departments, you need to understand the pecking order internally, usually they will be common across a given industry and align your pedigree with those departments.  That is not to say that you should make your decision on where to work solely on where you think you will get a job, but clearly it has to be a consideration in your decision-making.

Again, career services should be able to provide some insight and attending career-fairs or recruiting events and getting recruiters to describe typical profiles of incoming classes is also very helpful.

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