Finding the right job for you is a result of knowing yourself, and then targeting jobs that allow you to be your best self in the workplace.

Some people apply to any job that could use their skills and experience.  Some people apply to any job at all, regardless of whether it matches their skills and experience.

Both approaches are flawed.

The second approach – the “scattershot” approach – is flawed because it requires a lot of effort for very little result.  You hear of people who’ve sent out 500 resumes and gotten maybe 1 interview.  While I know they are working hard, they must not be working smart. Their results tell me that.

When I led departments and entire organizations, I hired and oversaw hiring of hundreds of people.  There always were many applicants for each position.

Guess which applications were immediately tossed into the “circular file” (aka wastebasket)? The applications that were generic forms, addressed “to whom it may concern,” and clearly were one of hundreds the person had sent out.  Guess which applications were reviewed? The ones that used the organization’s name and the position title, at very least, and were addressed to a person.

Scatter-shot doesn’t work, EVEN IF you are totally qualified for the position. You MUST personalize your application to the specific employer and position.

The first approach, applying for any job that could use your experience and skills, is much smarter than scatter-shot. You are headed in the right direction. Yet there is a flaw in this approach and it has to do with whether this is the “right fit” for you and the employer.

More and more, employers want to hire someone who is the right cultural fit for them. They want employees who will “fit in” immediately. That means they are looking for people who have done their homework, who know something about the company and its goals, values, purpose.  This is why many companies have employee referral programs, where current employees get rewarded by referring people who ultimately are hired. The employer guesses – rightly – that a current employee knows the kind of person who will be most successful in the organization.  It’s not simply that someone has the right skills and experience, it’s that someone has the right attitude and approach.

The most successful applicants then will be those who demonstrate very quickly that they are the right “cultural fit” for a potential employer.

One way to demonstrate that you are a good culture fit is through your cover letter. Using words from the company website and the job posting, you show that you “speak their language.” Give an example of how something you did in the past demonstrated the values and behavior that this company desires.

Another way to show the kind of culture you’ll fit into is through using a profile in your resume. A profile is not a summary nor an objective. It is a description of your Core Value Proposition with a dollop of personality thrown in.

A profile captures your core skills and abilities, your talents, and your approach to work. It emphasizes those things you love to do and want to do again.  And it conveys some personality through the judicious use of adjectives.

We want potential employers to get a sense of who you are as a person, so they can see if you are a fit for their culture.  Anyone who doesn’t want to see you because of the profile is someone you wouldn’t want to work with or for, anyway, so it’s a great screening mechanism. The rest of the resume will “prove” the profile.

When you know yourself – not simply what you CAN do but what you want to do and where you want to do it – you can effectively target the kind of jobs and employers that are a great match for you, that potentially are your “right fit” job.

This kind of targeted job search is more effective, because you make it easy for an employer to want to see you.  And if they like your resume and cover letter, the chances that they’ll like you in person are much higher because they already know something of your personality.

So give a profile a try, and you’ll be on the road to finding the right job for you.