Anyone in sales knows you live or die by your leads, and this holds true for job hunters, too.
It sounds simple at first: put your energy into the good leads and go after the bad ones when time permits.
But separating the good from the bad can be trickier than it seems. Maybe what we need is a taxonomic key for classifying job leads.
Have you ever used such a thing?
I did, back in high school, when I took a summer marine biology course. We spent part of each day scooping critters out of the water. Then we'd look at them under microscopes and, using our keys, figure out what they were.
We'll gloss over how surprised I was to find out what I'd been swimming with, and concentrate on what I learned about taxonomic classification. The key I used featured pairs of contrasting choices and started with big questions, then it gradually addressed smaller details until you'd moved through enough sub-groups to be able to determine what manner of critter it was that you'd caught.
So here's my first go at developing such a key for job leads:
1.a.) The job appears to be legitimate? (Proceed to Question 2.)
b.) The job seems almost too good to be true? (It probably is. Drop it immediately.)
2.a.) This sounds like something I'd really like to do? (Proceed to Question 3.)
b.) This sounds like it might be O.K? (Move this to a low priority pile.)
3.a.) I have all the qualifications listed? (Proceed to Question 4.)
b.) I have some of the qualifications listed? (Proceed to Question 5.)
4.a.) I can demonstrate achievements in all key result areas? (What are you waiting for? Time to research that company and apply.)
b.) I can demonstrate achievements in some key result areas? (How can you make what you've got work for you?)
5.a.) I meet the job's most important requirements? (Proceed to Question 4.)
b.) This job might be a stretch for me? (Start looking again.)
O.K., maybe this isn't the sort of a key a biologist could love, but it just might help the average job hunter sort through his or her impulses.
To flesh it out, and really make it work for you, try listing the other qualities you're looking for in a job, such as salary levels, flexible scheduling, location and more. Run your job leads through this key and let the results determine which ones you make your highest priorities.
And may your job search go swimmingly.