Hack Your Job Search With the Rule of Thirds

Last Updated Mar 11, 2009 12:31 PM EDT

We've been talking this week about whether to reveal your salary requirements to a potential employer and how to give a better interview. But it occurred to me that maybe we should start a little further back, before you ever get face-to-face with a new opportunity.

In other words, how can you make the job hunt itself more productive?

Sure, you could list yourself on job boards or spam out your resume. But there are better ways.

The folks at TheJobBored (great name, by the way) put up a really thought-provoking post about dividing your job search into three categories. The basics:

  • Apply for three positions that are dream jobs -- basically, ones that you feel are out of your league but would love to take on.
  • Apply for three positions that you'd be happy to have and could qualify for. They might not be as amazing as those in the first category, but would be perfectly acceptable and respectable.
  • Apply for three random, out-of-left-field jobs, either in your career track or not. These would be opportunities you stumble across and think, "Hey, this might be fun." (Firefighter? Fundraiser? Who knows?)
  • Then, apply to each one, and wait a set amount of time depending on the situation -- 24 hours, a week, whatever. But the key is to not apply for any other jobs until your waiting period is up.
Why is this strategy effective? According to the article, there are two reasons:
  1. The three categories give structure to your job search with a set of purposes and goals. Plus, the categories are balanced to allow for taking a chance, playing it safe, and random luck. And don't discount that third approach -- plenty of great jobs have been had thanks to serendipity.
  2. Forcing yourself to wait a given amount of time allows you to think about each job and really suss out potentials and strategies. You may find yourself doing more research on each company and position during the wait, which will in turn make you better prepared if and when interviewers come calling.
What do you think of this approach? Do you have any other tips for making your job search more effective? Let me know in the comments section.

(image by Egan Snow via Flickr, CC 2.0)

  • CC Holland

    CC Holland is a writer and editor whose work has appeared in the Los Angeles Times, the San Francisco Chronicle, and a number of national magazines. Online, she was a columnist for AnchorDesk.com and writes regularly for Law.com and BNET. On the other side of the journalism desk, she's been a managing editor for ZDNet, CNet, and KCBS-TV in Los Angeles, where she earned an APTRA Best News Web Site award.