One of the most frustrating parts of a job search is the unknown. Most organizations send little to no feedback to applicants. You can’t tell if you scored an A- (almost hired) or D+ (no chance).
If your job hunt seems to be going nowhere, this may be a sign you need to reconsider your strategy. Start by looking for these four common, and easy to fix, errors.
Moving Forward Without a Plan
Most people have heard a story of someone who expectedly fell into a fantastic job. However, like winning lottery tickets, this is the exception not the norm. Haphazard, vague and unfocused goals are unlikely to bring remarkable results. In most cases, you will be competing against other candidates who are passionate and focused. An “I’m still trying to decide what I want to do” attitude will put you at an immediate disadvantage. If you are open to exploring different options, that’s OK. But, identify three or four ideal jobs. Work toward pursuing these types of opportunities rather than applying to any open position you stumble upon.
Sending Out Hundreds of Resumes
Unfortunately, simply sending out more applications will not lead to more interviews. To streamline hiring, most companies are using Applicant Tracking Systems (ATS) to pre-scan materials. According to industry estimates, up to 75 percent of resumes sit in databases, never viewed by a real person. Customization is the trick to beating the software scan, so concentrate on creating a smaller number of high-quality applications specifically tailored for each job. This doesn’t mean you have to rewrite everything from scratch. Begin with a standard resume. Then, for each position, read the job description thoroughly and highlight keywords and skills. Then, include these exact words in your application materials.
Only Applying to Advertised Positions
If you are only using online job boards and help wanted ads to search for work, you probably are limiting your options. Since advertising can lead to unpredictable results, many companies prefer to hire with more reliable methods, including employee referrals and recruiting services. As a job seeker, use this knowledge to look for work in less-expected places.
These may include:
- company websites or social media channels;
- your network including friends, family and acquaintances; and
- a local or national staffing service or employment agency.
All three of these sources may have access to job opportunities not published elsewhere.
When you are looking for work, even the smallest mistakes matter. Make sure you read job descriptions word-for-word and follow instructions. If the company asks for three work samples, send three not two. Similarly, proofread and ask others to proofread all your written materials. Minor errors are a straightforward way for organizations to quickly eliminate candidates. After all, your application is supposed to represent the best you have to offer.