The job search process is grueling. You might even get to the point where you’re wondering if your standards are just too high. Or worse, maybe you’ve started telling people that “any job will do”—you just want to work.
Stop. You’re not doing yourself any favors, and here’s why.
Companies Won’t Hire You
Say you go to a company’s careers page and apply to every job you might be qualified for. Maybe this will show them how versatile I am and how much I want to work here, you might think. Unfortunately, it’s more likely than not that you won’t get a call back.
Fact is, for the most part, companies aren’t interested in generalists. No matter what the role, the person they would prefer to have is a specialist—the assumption being that a specialist can do most everything a generalist can do, but with an added perk of being able to do one thing really, really well. They’re also looking for people who are truly passionate about what they do. Those people, after all, are the ones who are likely to do a better job, stay engaged with their work, and stick around for a while.
This is exactly why every career counselor, recruiter, and hiring manager out there keeps telling you to tailor your resume and cover letter to the position—so you’ll look like you’re a specialist who’s passionate about and skilled in a specific area of expertise.
It’s Harder for People to Help You
Even if you’re not taking the drastic step of applying to every opening in a company, and you’re just sharing with your friends how exasperated you are with your job search, it’s still not a good idea to say you’ll take any job.
Here’s why: Telling your network that you’re looking is a fantastic way to generate leads for yourself (use our handy email template), but people can only help you if they know what you’re looking for. Think about it: If you say, “I’ll take anything!” and a friend doesn’t know anyone who’s immediately hiring, conversation over. But if you say, “I’m really interested in a marketing role at a healthcare company,” people can immediately think about people they know in those types of roles—and at the very least, set you up for an informational interview.
Of course, this only works if you really do know what you want in a career. Maybe you have no idea what kind of job you’re looking for. That’s fine, too. But, you probably do have at least an inkling of what you’re interested in broadly speaking, what you’re good at, and what your values are. Do your homework and think about these things. You may not end up with a job title per se, but being able to say, “I’d love to do something creative where I get to interact with people every day and help build a feeling of community” is much, much better than, “I’d take any job, really.” (Don’t know what your dream job is? Here's what to look for instead.)
It’s important to realize that not only would you prefer to not just take “any job,” you’re more likely to end up with a job you like—or a job at all—if you’re more intentional about what you’re looking for.
Not sure what you want to do? Sign up for our free email class on Discovering Your Career Passion.
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Lily Zhang serves as a Manager of Graduate Student Professional Development at the MIT Media Lab where she works with a range of students from AI experts to interaction designers. When she’s not indulging in a new book or video game, she’s thinking about, talking about, or writing about careers. Follow her musings on Twitter @lzhng.More from this Author