When Less is More – 5 Tips to Targeting your Job Search and Optimising Your Choices #MyNextSteps

We are talking about new opportunities and career paths that are emerging during the Covid-19 crisis , as well as ways that you can refresh your career thinking. But when we talk about new opportunities, there are always choices. Today, Career Consultant Leslie Parsons asks, is it really better to have more choices, or is Less… More? (spoiler: less IS more in this case!).

Photo by Javier Allegue Barros on Unsplash

The paradox of choice

Barry Schwartz in his book The Paradox of Choice, as well as in this Ted Talk,  discusses his experiment presenting two groups of students with different boxes of chocolates – one with six and the other with thirty.  In a world of marketing and emphasis on choice, you would think that having more choice would be better.  Schwartz surprise finding was that students with the smaller variety of choice found the process much easier and were happier with their choice!


The number or choices matter – for jobs too

This applies to the online graduate job postings and applications.  Automation and AI have made handling large numbers of applications very efficient for recruiters but a very poor return on investment for students.   Estimates vary, but students report only 20% of applications to result in a telephone interview, maybe 5% to an interview or assessment centre and 1-2% to a job offer.

There must be a better way.  The key is to turn the process around – building your preferred box of chocolates – identifying your top target employers and engaging with them before your application. This is what we call the Less is More approach.


Our 5 tips to a targeted job search

So how do you turn the process around when you only have a few potential organisations in mind? The following steps are from the 2HR Job Search strategy by Steve Dalton who presented to students at King’s Business School.

View the video recording of Steve Dalton’s seminar on King’s Careers & Employability Media channel.


  1. Expand the List

The goal is to find the key competitors of these employers and the fast-growing new entrants. By building an interesting sub-group of 30-40 organisations, you will be better able to educate yourself about the sectors, their trends and challenges and better able to customise your applications.

Start by “googling” the SIC (Standard Industry Code) of your current preferred organisations.  This code identifies the primary/secondary sector that the company operates within.  You can then use this code to find others in Nexis (an online company database available to all King’s students in Library Resources) for your preferred locations.

Click here for the Nexis in Library Resources and watch the following video about how to use the tool.


  1. Filter the List

By searching for companies with the same code, filtering by geography and sorting by the largest number of employees, you can quickly build a list of 10 – 15 relevant employers.

Then take a few minutes, to view a description of their operations, their financial status and growth, deselecting any companies. Finally, save and export the list into Excel, which will include website details and social media.


  1. Map for Alumni

Knowing more about the company and sector will help you differentiate your applications.  Armed with your target list and using the Alumni function in LinkedIn, highlight any of the companies that currently have a King’s alumni working there.  You can also check King’s Connect – our on-line alumni platform to identify graduates working in these firms/sectors and willing to provide insight.

Check out LinkedIn Alumni Feature Video introduction on Youtube.


  1. Check for Job Postings

Spend your energy and effort on those organisations who are currently hiring.  Using the Company web-site or LinkedIn Jobs, highlight those companies in your list who are actively recruiting, especially those recruiting graduates or relevant roles.


  1. Rank Your Top Six

Job search is an energy-intensive process, with ups and downs. Having real motivation for a particular organisation or sector will help you work through these challenges. Take a look at your list of highlighted organisations.  Rank them according to how motivated you are to make applications and speak to people to find out more about them.  Pick your top six!

With a focused list of potential employers – organisations who are both interesting and relevant you will feel more in control.  You will have a focus to your conversations with contacts and alumni.  Feeding the knowledge this focus provides into your job applications and conversations with employers will differentiate you from other candidates.  You will have a compelling story to tell when asked why you have applied to the company or interest in the sector!

If you missed this week’s #MyNextSteps session, don’t worry – you can listen to the recording of the event on KEATS a few days after the session. This session will help you to:

  • Discover new opportunities and career paths that are emerging during the Covid-19 crisis.
  • Take steps to refresh your career thinking and explore new ideas