Guess what? Your dream job just got posted!  Time to jump on the opportunity and apply for the job immediately!

Or is it?

On the one hand, my years of recruiting experience support the prevailing conventional wisdom:  apply as soon as you see a job, so that you’re one of the first people considered.

As a recruiting team, we would, in fact, give preference to the people who applied for the job more quickly, mostly because we would be creating a “short list” of ideal candidates over the first few days.  We’d evaluate latecomers against our existing pool of candidates and decide whether or not they held more promise than the first few contenders we’d identified.  There’s a strong advantage to being one of the first 10 candidates who apply for a job.

However, all rules have exceptions.  Here’s when it makes more sense to keep your finger far away from the “send” button for a job application, until you do your due diligence:

You have a friend who can submit your materials through an employee referral program. 

Many companies pay bonuses to employees who refer their friends and colleagues, which means your friend will strongly advocate for you.  In addition, companies also tend to prioritize employee referrals over more traditional hiring methods, since they have an instant character reference about you.  Before applying, research your contacts to see if you know anyone who already works at that company.

You have a resume but it’s not tailored for the role.

It’s far better to submit the RIGHT resume with the right keywords, than to be first in line with a poorly targeted resume.  Take some time later in the day, tune your resume to the job description, and THEN send it along (unless you have a contact at the company, which I’ll cover in a minute.)

You’ve already interviewed at that company (and it went well, but didn’t result in a job).

If you have talked with and/or met anyone at the company, and you think it was a good conversation, use that contact person instead!  You can write a simple email saying that you remember enjoying your conversation and you just saw a new role that you think might be a good fit; would they mind connecting you to the hiring manager?  On the other hand, if the conversation DIDN’T go well, then it might be good to have a blank slate with a new person reviewing your resume.

You haven’t yet searched LinkedIn, thought through your contacts and/or mined your school’s alumni database to see if you have a connection.

A live person who knows you (and has a positive association with you) is ALWAYS better than a “cold” application.  Before hitting send, always take a look through LinkedIn and think through your contacts to see if you have anything in common with someone at the company.  A great example:  a client of mine saw a great job that’s right up his alley, and he happens to play soccer with one of the company’s executives.  Before going through the regular job application process, he’s connecting with that executive so that his application has more momentum.

And last, but not least, you’re applying because you think you “could” or you “should” but your heart’s not in it.

At least once a week, a client reaches out to ask me about a potential job lead; either a recruiter has called them, or a friend has mentioned it to them.  The trouble?  It’s actually not the right job for them.  Of course, it’s nice to be wanted!  But your time is precious.  Use it wisely, and if you can’t actually see yourself enjoying a particular job, don’t take up your own time or the hiring team’s time.

I know it’s tempting to apply for the job IMMEDIATELY, but if you think through these steps first, you’ll have a much better result in the end.