Wide Net vs. Narrow Focus? The Job Hunter’s Dilemma

Posted April 8, 2013 by Marcy Twete in Career Moves

There’s an age old question in job searching – should you cast a wide net or find a way to focus narrowly on a specific section of your industry. Jenny Yerrick Martin recently talked about this specific question in her article for YourIndustryInsider.com. Jenny writes about participating in a day-long conference for college students and the advice they were given:

In the afternoon, similar guidance was given to the students by a panelist, a TV writer, who told them emphatically to, “Get a job. Any job! It’s better to be on the inside than on the outside, no matter what the job is!” I bristled a bit at the tone. I pictured these students post-graduation panicked, resumes in hand, like they were playing some new version of “Duck Duck Goose,” running around trying to find an empty chair, any empty chair, to sit down in.

This is not, I repeat not, a good way to enter any new field – or conduct any job hunt.

The implication in the “wide net” advice is that when you have no professional experience, you are equally qualified for and capable of doing any entry-level job in your new field, since all entry level positions require no previous professional experience. So, if that is true, the more resumes and cover letters you send out, the more likely you will be to land a job. The quicker you will do so.

However, job hunting is not primarily a numbers game; it’s primarily a marketing game. Career building is about “fit.” If you want to be personally satisfied and professionally successful, you want to follow a path (built job-by-job) that suits your unique qualities and skills. Even from the beginning.

I was so delighted to see Jenny’s post here on YourIndustryInsider.com because I’ve recently seen the effects of this kind of advice on young women in the internship hiring process for Career Girl Network. This summer, we’re hiring 4-5 interns, and have had incredible candidates. But among those incredible candidates are resume after resume of everyone from finance majors to pre-med students. Did they realize they were applying to a position in marketing and public relations? No. Because somewhere, someone told them to apply for every single job on their college’s internship board to increase their odds of landing a spot. Bad, bad idea.

Still feel like you have to “cast a wide net”? Take Jenny’s advice and read the rest of her article by clicking here. She gives great advice on playing both the marketing game, and sometimes the numbers game when you have to.

About the Author

Marcy Twete

Marcy Twete is a career fundraiser turned corporate responsibility executive, a career and networking expert and the author of the book "You Know Everybody! A Career Girl’s Guide to Building a Network That Works."