When I was job hunting, every morning I would wake up to over a dozen job board alerts and social media updates in my e-mail. I was bombarded with ads, employer profiles, recruitment videos… and I had no idea where to start my search. Eager to find the right opportunity, I signed up on every listhost for job seekers I could find and eventually I spent more time sifting through literature about potential employers than taking the time to submit quality applications.

As a recruiter, I now realize that when it comes to the job search, one thoughtful application beats one hundred generic ones. To make the most of your time, it is better to focus your search.

Here are a few tips on how you can streamline your job search and filter out the noise.

Know Yourself

Start with a list of your values. Consider what would entice you away from your company. If this is your first job, list the qualities of an employer on which you are willing to compromise and what is not negotiable. Is it compensation? Work-life balance? Brand recognition?

Search for keywords on company websites and look for language that resonates with you and your values. How does the company describe its offering? For example, if you want to take on a lot of responsibility quickly, look for employers that emphasize small teams and creativity over career trajectory or structure, which signals a less rigid process for internal movement.

Understanding your values will not only allow you to narrow down and prioritize the list of employers you are considering, but it will also help you stand out during the interview process.

Brand Yourself

Most people update their social media profiles (LinkedIn, AngelList, Poacht, Hired, etc) when they are in the job market, but few do it well. There are two simple ways to improve your profile. First, reduce the clutter. If I cannot find your graduation date quickly, I will move on to the next candidate. Second, describe your experience in the framework of the next one. Simply put, think about what words matter to the recruiter who is tasked with filling the role that you want. If you want to manage people, for instance, emphasize leadership experience and use variations of the verb to lead (leading, led, leads, leader, team lead, etc). When a recruiter searches for that keyword, your profile will come on top as more relevant.

Find Sponsors

Referrals are effective - according to Jobvite research, one in seven referrals will be hired as opposed to one in 100 general applicants. This is why most companies will reward employees who refer strong candidates. Do not be afraid to use this knowledge to your advantage and ask people in your network to refer you for jobs at their firms. Rather than simply requesting informational interviews, find sponsors who will vouch for you and submit your application.

Remain Humble

Chances are that at some point in your professional life, recruiters will reach out to you. That said, keep in mind that the Recruiters’ goal is to fill a position, not to find a job for you. We evaluate the entirety of your candidacy so, if you are interested, you should strive to prove you are a good fit for the job even during the first interaction. Ask a couple of questions up front to see if the opportunity makes sense, but then let the recruiter lead the conversation. And remember, even if a recruiter reaches out to you, you still need to earn the job.

Keep an Open Mind

Knowing yourself is crucial, but it’s always good to keep an open mind. Just because you are focused on a career in consulting, for instance, does not mean that jobs in other fields would not provide you with the same opportunities to learn and grow.

If an opportunity falls into your lap, don’t be afraid to explore it.