My most recent Melbourne based client – let’s call him “John” – reckons he has applied for more than a couple hundred jobs online since being made redundant late last year and hearing back from exactly… none. John had no awareness of some very useful resume hacks which could have scored him job interviews.
For some job seekers, hitting the ‘send’ button on an online job application feels like launching a CV into a communication black hole, never to be seen or heard from again.
I know that the lack of any response at all, even a polite rejection form letter, is jarring and frustrating for most job hunters. So, what should you do if you’re constantly hitting a wall of silence?
# 1 Quality over quantity
For starters, and this might seem counterintuitive when you’re feeling desperate to land a job, but you will not get noticed or score job interviews if you fail to show quality in your approach by simply being selective.
No one should be applying for ‘hundreds’ of jobs. It’s simply unlikely that someone would be qualified for that many positions to begin with. You’re setting yourself up for disappointment.
Instead, focus on whether you have the right skills, including transferable skills, training and personality for the jobs you actually want. If not, it’s time to find ways to develop them, even if it’s through more education or volunteer activities. No (resume) formatting tricks can overcome a lack of provable or transferrable skills.
# 2 Do your homework
Here at TheJobSearchCoach our biggest pet peeve are applicants who don’t bother to edit their resume to reflect the needs of the organisation, or role requirements, even when a comprehensive position description is available.
Not taking the time to customise the most important areas of your resume gives a really bad first impression. It often looks like sheer laziness, which can appear disrespectful to the person screening your application at the other end. If you really want the job, always – yes ALWAYS – research the company before you complete your application.
# 3 Stop bullet-spraying your resume over the internet
Peppering the internet, job sites and particularly recruiting firms with your resumes and cover letters does not work and it also runs the risk of getting you blacklisted. Yes I am serious, some ATS systems highlight you and you get locked out for future opportunities. Many people also make the cardinal blunder of simply peppering their CV or resume with keywords, thinking that will be enough to get them through the (ATS) software that is widely used by hiring professionals to screen applicants.
Just peppering your documents with keywords alone won’t work. ATS software is consistently becoming more sophisticated and job hunters need to adapt their application documents to that fact or they will remain locked out. Newer search technology offers a more holistic evaluation of your resume or CV than in the past, Therefore, your resume should not be a list of facts but rather a narrative with tangible proof that tells a story.
Instead of submitting regular ‘run of the mill’ generic job descriptions for each of your work experiences and leaving it unchanged no matter what job you are applying for is simply silly. Instead submit a well-written narrative which adapts to each job description (and other sections too) and emphasise the specific experiences, skills, and vocabulary that the employer is looking for. If you need help with that, hire a professional resume writing service. Remember that your resume is an elevator pitch: why you are a great for this [particular] job and how can you help me (employer) solve my problems. That’s what it is all about.
# 4 Name dropping works – if it’s done right
If you have recent experience at a well-known company, take advantage of it. Please note that I am highlighting the word recent and that implies in the last +/- 3 years. You won’t impress anyone with namedropping of positions you held 10+ years ago. That is not enough. Continue to highlight those recent experiences in your CV and send your application to all of the direct competitors of the company where you recently worked.
Most companies have a tendency to want to hire people who have worked for competitors. It works if it’s done right!
# 5 Personality beats any recruiting system
No matter how special your resume, cover letter and maybe even LinkedIn profile may be, it still can’t beat a personal referral from someone who wants to refer or recommend you to a hiring manager or recruiter. As everything changes in job searching, some things remain the same. Peer to peer referrals or good old fashioned networking is still the number one way to find a new job.
One last checklist before you hit send:
- Can I learn more about the job requirements and the needs of the organisation?
- Do I meet at least 70% of the selection criteria and transferrable skills?
- What key words and phrases are used in the position description?
- Can I improve my resume content and formatting to ensure it passes ATS systems?
- Have I made it clear how I differentiate myself from other similar job hunters?
- Does my resume clarify how I can solve the problem and add value?
- Have I followed the application instructions specified in the ad?
The difference between job hunting and job scoring is the translation of the key activities described above. When people discover that you’re actually paying attention to what’s really required, then they will call you in for job interviews. Stay focused and, when you are out there searching for that next job, remember to hunt wisely!