The Importance of Targeting the Right Roles in Your Job Search


Hey there, job seeker. Have you been applying for jobs for months or weeks and getting very few invitations to interview? Or when you do get invited to interview, do you struggle through the questions and then beat yourself up afterwards? If so, it is very likely that you have been targeting roles that do not create favorable conditions for you to win. So, what I’m going to talk about on today’s episode is a common struggle that job seekers have, and it’s that most of the time, they’re applying to the wrong target roles. They’re shooting their shot too high. Most of the time. There’s nothing wrong with shooting your shot, but you can’t have it take up a vast majority of your job search efforts and applying efforts and networking efforts. So I’m going to talk about this mistake and how it holds you back from getting invited to more interviews and converting those interviews to job offers in the shortest amount of time as possible.

When embarking on a job search or career change journey, it is crucial to have a clear destination in mind. Just as you wouldn’t get into a car and start driving without knowing the address of where you’re heading, you can’t start a job search without determining your target roles. This is one of the first steps I take with my clients in the first phase of our work. We need to establish what roles they are aiming for, whether they are career changers or job seekers looking for an upgrade.

Career changers are individuals who want to change the core nature of their day-to-day job. They are looking to pivot into a completely different role, such as transitioning from being a teacher to working in a corporate setting. On the other hand, job seekers who are looking for an upgrade want to stay within the same kind of work but are seeking improvements in terms of compensation, benefits, company reputation, remote work opportunities, or career growth.

In the current economic environment of 2023, it is more challenging to be a career changer. Employers have a surplus of applicants with the necessary experience and skills they are looking for. It becomes difficult for a career changer to stand out among the competition. Companies are less willing to take a chance on someone who requires extensive training and onboarding when there are numerous qualified candidates available.

During the great resignation of 2021, the job market was more favorable to career changers as companies struggled to find people to fill their vacancies. However, the current economic conditions require a different approach. If you are currently unemployed, I highly recommend focusing on the job seeker upgrade strategy rather than attempting a career change. This will increase your chances of receiving a job offer in the shortest amount of time while still allowing you to build the necessary skills and experiences for a potential career change in the future.

Once you have determined whether you are a career changer or a job seeker, it is essential to pinpoint your target roles. Within the career change bucket, there are two types of target roles: the reach role and the stretch role. The reach role is a radical departure from your current skill set and experience. It is a role that you have never done before and may require extensive networking, upskilling, and potentially taking a significant pay cut. These roles are challenging to achieve unless you have specific qualifications or certifications.

The stretch role, on the other hand, has more overlap between your existing skill set and the desired role. It may still require networking and convincing recruiters of your transferable skills, but it is more attainable in a shorter period. For example, if you are a marketing insights professional looking to transition into HR, targeting an HR data insights role would be a stretch role. You still need to compete with candidates who have direct HR insights experience, but your transferable skills make it more achievable.

For job seekers looking for an upgrade, the target role is called the boost role. This involves building upon your current career path and adding upgrades. It could be a higher-level role, a managerial position, a promotion, or a more strategic role within your field. The key is to identify the aspects of your current job that you want to improve and target roles that align with those goals. Specialized professionals, such as lawyers or PR professionals, may also consider shifting to different types of organizations while staying within their specialized skill set.

However, there is a risk for job seekers to solely focus on high-level roles that are several steps ahead of their current position. This can lead to numerous rejections and a lack of momentum, especially in a competitive job market. It is crucial to assess what is realistically achievable and set realistic targets. By mapping out the range of roles that align with your goals, you can receive instant feedback from the market and adjust your strategy accordingly.

The ultimate goal of targeting the right roles in your job search is to generate more interview invitations. This requires being strategic and intentional about where you spend your time and effort. If you are not receiving many interview invitations, it may be an indication that you are shooting your shot too high. It is important to reassess your target roles and make adjustments to increase your chances of success.

In conclusion, targeting the right roles in your job search is crucial for success. Whether you are a career changer or a job seeker looking for an upgrade, understanding your goals and aligning them with realistic target roles is essential. The current economic environment may favor job seekers over career changers, but with the right strategy, both can achieve their desired outcomes. By focusing on stretch roles for career changers and boost roles for job seekers, you can increase your chances of receiving interview invitations and ultimately securing a job offer. Remember to be strategic, realistic, and open to feedback from the market as you navigate your job search journey.

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