A piece of “advice” that I have received is to only apply to jobs you want. At first blush, this advice seems very intuitive. Because submitting applications can be tedious work, you may want to limit the number of jobs you apply to by filtering by salary, location, or etc.
In my experience, it isn’t practical advice.
Searching for jobs
Do you meet the bare minimum requirements for the job? If yes, then apply. It is literally the only search criteria that matters because there is little to no marginal cost (maybe 15 minutes) of submitting applications. If you template your cover letter, the marginal cost drops further.
Some jobs you will never take because of the salary or location, but the recruiter does not know that. In fact, getting an offer here might have benefits. I will get to that later.
Tiering your applications
When applying to colleges, you have/will hear about safety, target, and reach schools. I recommend approaching job applications the same way. I want to convince you to find some “safety” jobs.
Because safeties, despite having high probability of acceptance, are undesirable, many people unpurposefully apply to safeties. Until you gain an offer (or two), your applications should be broken down as 50:30:20 (safety:target:reach). Once you have an offer, you can change your breakdown.
Having a safety in your pocket will benefit your job hunt.
By knowing you are desirable, you become even more desirable.
During recruitment with targets and reaches, safeties best demonstrate your value. A common interview question is “Are you considering other firms?”. If you can honestly answer “Yes. In fact, I have another offer…”, then you will be better received than candidates who do not have offers. Simple.
Perfect practice makes perfect.
LinkedIn will tell you to be “confident” in interviews. Confidence only comes from exposure and experience. Some of you are thinking about mock interviews. These are useful when you are beginning to look for work — most likely freshmen or sophomore years of college. However, the best way to get better at interviewing is to interview. Crazy, right? Safeties are great ways to perfectly practice your skills in
Safeties are great ways to perfectly practice your skills in actual interview conditions. This practice will best prepare you for interviews with targets and reaches.
Safeties as diamonds in the rough
Most big scientific discoveries happen by accident. It was a chance occurrence under the watchful eye of someone smart and observant.
Safeties can be like these phenomena. A lot of people overlook them, but if you are smart and observant, you may make a breakthrough discovery. You may find a diamond in the rough because job descriptions may not properly convey what the job entails. After you speak to a few people at the firm, you may feel as if this safety is a target or reach job. Remember, you do not lose anything by applying to safeties.
Having a safety job makes you a more desirable and confident candidate. Sometimes safeties are great jobs, too. Apply widely. Profit.