In case you haven’t noticed the job search game has changed significantly in recent years. As a Career Management Consultant I see a lot of unemployed people looking to improve their chances of re-employment and a lot have the same story.
I hear them say things like “I have never had to look for a job”, “I have been head hunted for most of my positions”, “I have been employed for over 10 years with the same company” and so on.
Currently we are in a depressed market where jobs are scarce and labour is plenty and that means you need to become more competitive. It isn’t uncommon for the average advertised position to have 300 plus applications so how do you maximise your chances of making the top 10 to be considered for an interview? Here are 8 things to consider:
TAILOR THE RESUME and not just the cover letter. We live in a time poor world which means those responsible for screening your resume need to make quick decisions to get a list of 300 applicants down to 10 or 15. Therefore they go straight to your resume for the first cut. If you spent all your morning writing the cover letter but not tailoring the resume you have a high chance of not getting short listed.
ARE YOU A REAL FIT for the job? Your focus might have been on “I can do that” while their focus was on choosing applicants with recent and directly related experience. When we are unemployed we can panic and apply for dozens if not hundreds of roles even when we don’t directly fit the criteria. We think “I can do that” and therefore apply for the role. If you don’t have clearly transferrable skills and experience that is recent, the chances of being considered for the role is slim. You probably could do the role but there were 20 other candidates that already do the role and will get considered before you.
THE RESUME CONTENT made it hard to figure you out. Did your layout of information mean the potential employer had to do all the work? Resumes are not honesty documents, they are marketing tools designed to articulate effectively what you are selling. Most resumes today are still not written with the reader in mind and contains too much unfiltered information making it a slow process for the reader to extract the information they seek. Do a quick audit, what do readers know about you after reading the first half front page of your resume? (Hopefully they know your name, contact details and profession)
FORGOT THE EYE CANDY. Poorly formatted resumes can still get people interviews however in a labour rich, job poor market these things can make all the difference. A resume that looks good and has relevant content will impress and catch the eye of the reader. Google ‘resumes’ to see what you are attracted to and try to improve your style or ask a friend who is good at word processing to help you out.
YOU APPLIED TOO LATE. The recruitment game is largely unregulated therefore “anything goes”. Just because the applications say they close in three weeks shouldn’t mean you have two and a half weeks to apply. This one is simple “the early bird catches the worm”. Efficient recruiters will begin filtering out applications as soon as they come in, once they get their quota of candidates to interview they won’t be looking for more. Apply as early as you can!
ON HOLD. The role was put on hold but you never were informed. While getting a job is the most important thing to you, hiring the new employee is just one task of many for a company. Things happen and often roles and the recruitment process are delayed or sidelined. This is seldom communicated so the 300 plus enthusiastic applicants are often left wondering why they were never contacted.
SOMEONE ELSE WAS ALWAYS IN MIND for the role. That’s right! Networking is an important part of anyone’s career. Chances are someone else has been earmarked for the role and the business needs to follow its policy for recruitment. This includes internal applicants. You will never know this and can’t control it so keep applying for jobs anyway. It is more a reminder that you are part of a bigger picture and that rejection in job seeking is not as personal as you think it is.
KEYWORDS COUNT with some businesses using software to screen out resumes. Applicant Tracking Systems (ATS) scan your resume for keywords and phrases. This takes us back to the need to tailor the resume for each position. Ensuring that the resume contains the relevant keywords that were used in the advertisement.
Being successful at applications is an art and a science. If you have applied for over 50 positions and haven’t secured an interview you may need to see a career expert to identify what changes you need to make. It is more likely not personal and more likely how you are marketing yourself. Good luck and most importantly, don’t give up!
Danielle Beck | Career Management Consultant