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What 3 months recruiting for a mining company taught me (Part 3)

How Competition Affects Your Job Search

Having worked as a recruiter, outplacement consultant and career adviser for around 18 years I had the opportunity to help build a junior miner’s team which was ramping up for production. My job was to recruit 57 positions. As I had been providing career advice and job search coaching, I was interested in comparing various methods of job searching techniques inside a mining company. Over the last 2 weeks, I explained how we used job boards and the lessons learnt from that. I also explained how successful candidates used their professional networks for their job search. This week I discuss competition and how it affected the job search outcomes for applicants that applied for the jobs I advertised. There are some important lessons regarding company research and how it can help you reach your goals.


Competition is a very important fact you need to consider when applying for a job. When a job is advertised – everyone sees that job! That means that you will be competing with just about every person that is interested in that position. That might be 30 or 40 for less popular position through to 2000 – 3000 (or more) for the more popular positions. As I mentioned earlier, from the research into the positions I advertised, although your odds are not as bad as lotto, your chance of winning a role was around 200 to 1. That is pretty poor odds. So how do you compete with so many other applicants? When you are competing with so many other job seekers you cannot afford to take a casual approach to your application. You really need to put your best foot forward. If you’re using a job board this means that your application needs to be as close to perfect as possible. To be quite frank many of the applications I looked at were pretty average.

I have to admit, applying for a position via a job board in a weak market is a very big ask. Perhaps applicants didn’t think that they had a good chance of being successful but thought they would have a crack anyway. I don’t know. However, when applying for a position you need to have a positive attitude. You need to be confident that you have a very good chance of success. But applying for a job is more than wishful thinking. Therefore you have to know what you are doing when you send in an application to give you the best chance of success. I will expand on applying to jobs online next week where I will cover the key criteria of a good application.

Job Search Planning

Another way to minimise your competition involves planning. What do I mean by planning? Well, specifically I am talking about job search planning. It involves learning about the companies that are in your sector. Competition goes up substantially when jobs are posted.

If you had a way of finding out about potential opportunities before they were announced imagine how much easier your job search would be? There is a way to do that –  through job search planning and research. Of course, that would involve time and effort on your part.

Most job seekers that I speak with are reluctant to “waste time” researching their industry or job search planning. Counter-intuitively, planning and research can reduce your time job searching by around 80 – 200%. That means that it can take you a quarter of the time to find a job – then if you just apply for positions through job boards. In addition, you are more likely to find a position that is suited to you and receive higher remuneration. Research shows by as much as 10 – 40%!

Company Research

When reviewing the applications we received, I was surprised to see how few applicants took the effort to research our company or the position advertised. Even though I had specifically requested a cover letter asking to explain their interest in the job and why they wanted to work for our company, very few did so. In fact, may applications were quite generic and were obviously sent out to everyone – this is the classic shotgun approach. Avoid applying for jobs without researching the company. When I say research the company – don’t just review the company website. Although company websites have improved somewhat over the years you need to remember that the information presented is a company effort to market themselves, so you will usually get the glossy picture of the company. In the case of international companies, information is often quite generic. If you are researching company projects, it is quite likely that the projects don’t even relate to the work being done in this country. You need to take a much deeper dive. This will involve a range of activities – including speaking with company insiders.

Next week

Next week – I will explain how to tailor your resume to dramatically increase your interview prospects plus a few other things about your job search collateral that you need to know.

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