7 Essential Tips to Securing a Job Interview
There’s nothing more demoralizing than sending out dozens of resumes to potential employers then waiting…and waiting…as days turn to weeks, your heart sinks a little more. Painfully, you realize none are coming. With shrinking COVID-19 markets, frustration slides into despair as you ask yourself, “What do they want? Why aren’t I good enough?”.
So, what can you do to be one of the lucky few?
What Research Tells Us
Recruiters say resumes are rejected typically because: applications are impersonal, or aren’t tailored for the position open, or there’s no cover letter whether asked for or not. Many particularly dislike an objectives section wanting instead a career summary. Similarly, outlining responsibilities isn’t valued by them, whereas accomplishments are. Think, using verbs like ‘led’, ‘increased’ followed by quantifiable, measurable results E.g. ‘Grew sales from 900,000 to 1.2 million over 9 months.’
What are recruiters looking for? Topping their lists are cultural fit, job experience, qualifications (if you don’t have 70% of those required, don’t waste your time applying), and soft skills (93% of employers consider soft skills ‘essential’). 41% of recruiters noted they expect your skill set to be listed first on the resume.
Keep in mind, recruiters take an average of 6 seconds to scan a resume and note 80.4% of errors occur in former job descriptions – and yes, errors do matter! The speed per view also highlights the need for quality over quantity E.g. 1-2 pages if you want your resume read. You should also be aware that many companies use scanning software for applicant tracking. This means your resume must be in an ATS friendly format to avoid your resume being weeded out as a ‘bad fit’ before it’s even seen by human eyes. How does this work you say? ATS is programmed to pick up information and keywords in your resume so it’s imperative to use those that the company has used in its job description and format your resume in a .doc file not PDF.
Tips to optimize your chances of an interview offer
Network to increase your job opportunity reach E.g. use your LinkedIn contacts to expand your connections. Ask them if they know of any suitable openings. Such referrals increase your chances of job interview offers… and getting that job!
Search smart E.g. use websites that have less applicant interest so the competition is less, like govt., company and industry-specific ones rather than job board aggregators which are traffic heavy. As well, don’t rely only or mainly on online sites. Ideally, use them for just 20% of your job applications and no more than 50% to increase your chances. Spend enough time on applying for jobs E.g.10 – 15 per week and focus on tailoring the content for each - quality over quantity. You need your resume to be read!
Tailor content to match the job applied for. Meaning tweak your existing resume rather than creating a new one. To do this, use keywords from the job advertisement to show your ‘fit’ with the company, personalize your resume by E.g. using the hiring manager’s name etc., write a summary specifically targeting the experience and skills required for the position.
Include links to your blogs, portfolios and websites on your resume.
Use direct contact with companies. This saves them loads of money and shows your specific interest in working for them.
Explain any recent gaps in your employment and put a positive spin on it in terms of expanding your skill set, personal development etc.
Your cover letter is a way to show your personality and fit for the job in a more friendly, conversational style so send one whether it’s asked for or not.
Job interview invites are a great start to gaining your job offer but your effort doesn’t end here. Make sure you follow up with employers after the interview E.g. A follow-up email a week after submission will show employers your interest in the job. However, make sure you wait until the job application end date has expired if there is one! Also keep in mind and be prepared for on average 3 interviews before a job offer comes. Keep smiling and trying!