We’ve all been there, you’ve searched through dozens of job ads, spent hours writing your resume and sent off tens of applications with hope and crossed fingers. We all know competition is tough, so when we didn’t get the interview, we often say things like: ‘I didn’t have enough experience‘, ‘I should have applied quicker’ or ‘I just wasn’t lucky.’
What we need to understand is that landing that coveted interview has little to do with your experience, being the first to apply or luck. So when those interview invitations are still eluding you, then you are probably making one of these mistakes.
- Your resume doesn’t show enough relevance
So it’s time to own up, have you applied for different jobs using the same resume? Hiring managers and recruiters can tell instantly when you haven’t taken the time to customise your resume and cover letter to their job. Not only will this annoy them, your resume will fail to answer their question ‘How is this person a fit for this job’? Customising is your chance to answer this and stand out from the crowd.
The key to writing a resume that gets noticed, is making it relevant to what the employer wants. Show them you have done your homework and matched what they want, to what you can offer. Use their job ad and give examples from your work and life experience that show direct relevance to what they want and how you have solved problems like theirs before. On average, a hiring manager will spend seven seconds reviewing a resume. So that means you need to show them how you are the solution to their problem in the top half of the first page so they feel compelled to keep reading your resume.
- You thought being qualified was enough
I say this with kindness and I realise this may be hard to hear but just having the requested qualifications for a position is no longer enough to get you a job offer, let alone an interview. The fact is, you may be qualified as an accountant, project manager or teacher but so are many, many other people. To stand out from the throng of qualified job seekers you must know what is different and better about you from the competition. The ability to sell yourself will not bring you far, as experienced hiring managers and recruiters can spot selling a mile away and will be turned off.
Take the time to define what it is that makes you different from the competition – is it your experience, your approach, your industry or niche, or the specific problem you can solve. After all, if you can’t explain what is unique about you, then a potential employer won’t know either.
- You are using the least effective method to job search
Your average person spends 90% of their job search time scouring the internet and applying for jobs online, however as little as 5 per cent of jobs are actually filled through formal applications. Studies have shown 60 to 80 per cent of jobs are never advertised. So what you need to understand is how the average person searches for a job is not how employers prefer to source their employees. An employer’s first preference is always to hire internally. This means they will look to promote or move people within their organisation. The second preference is via referrals – this could be through a current or past employee, or a trusted contact. Referral candidates are 5 times more likely to get offered the job. It is only when these two preferences are unsuccessful or tapped out, that they will move outside of the organisation and network and start looking in the public domain. This might mean posting a job on their website, a job board or with a recruiter.
The reason why employers prefer to fill positions with internal candidates or referrals is simple: they save money, time and effort. It is also widely accepted that these hires are a less risky choice. After two years, 45 per cent of referral hires are retained, as opposed to only 20 per cent of those hired from job boards.
If you agree to be judged on your past – send your resume. If you want to be judged on your future potential – get a referral.
To make the most out of your job search time get a referral. Start by targeting a company not a specific job ad. Research their major challenges, projects, vision and company culture. Do your homework to determine your fit – how is what you can offer relevant to what they want? In other words, show how you can solve their problems or assist them reach their goals. Then find the person who has the power to help you or hire you. Identify who this person is, either by name or job title, then work backwards to figure out who can help you connect with them. Take the plunge and connect with them. The way you network can broaden your opportunities; the way you connect with people establishes trust and makes you memorable. They will go out on a limb for you, even if they don’t know you well, when they believe you would be an asset to their company, client or friend or that you will make them look good for referring you.
Christy Frank is the internationally published author of Stand Out & Succeed: Discover your passion, accelerate your career and become recession-proof. As a Career Strategist she helps professionals, freelancers and graduates take their career to the next level. www.christyfrank.com