Are you in this situation?
You’ve been sending out your résumé for a while but are getting nowhere.
You’re tired of applying to jobs and never hearing back from anyone. You suspect your résumé has been lost in the infamous “big black HR hole” never to be seen by a human.
You’re feeling exhausted, rejected, frustrated, insecure, and becoming more demotivated every day.
You might even feel like a big loser – like there’s something wrong with you, especially when you hear about other people landing their dream jobs in what seems like record time.
You’re not a loser – you’re just trying to work in a system that in my opinion is broken and not very user friendly. If the whole online job application process worked, then way more people would be getting interviews and hired.
The fact is, only a TINY percentage of candidates who apply to job postings actually get the interview which is largely why it takes the average person 6 to 9 months to find their next job.
So, what’s the solution?
The first step is to understand what is preventing you from getting multiple interviews. Once you understand that, you can take measures to make the necessary improvements which will probably mean doing things differently.
11 Things Preventing You From Getting Hired
#1: You don’t have a job search plan
I communicate with a lot of jobseekers and they’re all doing the same things that don’t work.
They’re applying to as many jobs as they can and usually with the same, cookie-cutter résumé. Some have sent out hundreds and even thousands of résumés and get little to no response.
This “spray and pray” method doesn’t work and is really just a huge time-waster for everyone. It’s also why companies get on average 200 résumés for each job posting.
While you think you are increasing your chances by applying to hundreds or thousands of jobs, you’re really just adding to the glut of résumés that is largely to blame for why no one is getting called for the interview.
If you’re stuck in this résumé sending rut, then you need to change the way you’re doing things.
You have to formulate a strategic job search plan that involves networking in your field and reaching out directly to hiring managers to uncover potential jobs and conduct career research.
Yeah, I know – that probably means moving completely out of your comfort zone.
#2: You rely on applying to jobs online
When you apply to jobs online, in most cases it’s the computer applicant tracking software system that performs the first screening of your résumé – not the human.
The problem with the ATS system, is that it’s missing perfectly qualified candidates largely because their résumés were not properly “optimized” for the ATS.
If you’re relying to applying to jobs online and not getting the interview, it’s likely because your résumé hasn’t been written properly for the computer scanning software which is why only a tiny percentage of résumés are selected for the interview.
The real kicker is that you can have an “ATS-friendly” document and still be eliminated. The human might have seen something they didn’t like or didn’t see what they wanted, or there was some other reason.
Or the ATS might not have scanned the résumé properly which can happen, especially with the older, less sophisticated systems.
Unless you are the lucky few who actually gets the interview by applying online, you will significantly increase your odds when you by-pass the ATS altogether.
There is a job search strategy where you don’t apply online, but it involves a lot of networking and reaching out directly to hiring managers to set up informational meetings and potential interviews.
#3: You are trying to be everything to everyone
Companies want to hire someone who is a specialist in something. They’re looking for the candidate to have specific qualifications and to be able to deliver specific results.
It would then make sense that you finely target your job search to address the employer’s specifications. But, most people don’t do this and send the same résumé to a wide range of jobs in different industries.
Candidates are under the wrong impression that the wider a net they cast, the more results they will get. Unfortunately, the opposite is more of the reality.
By trying to be everything to everybody, you are in effect diluting your message so much that you end up attracting nothing.
You need to determine what your target position is and drill down to a specific type of role in a specific industry.
The next step is to effectively brand yourself as a specialist in your target field and communicate this in your résumé, cover letter, and Linkedin profile so that you attract the right kind of opportunities.
#4: You’re not clear about WHY someone should hire you
The other thing you have to do is show the employer why you are “worth” the cost of hiring you.
You need to get clear on how YOU have helped organizations and stakeholders save time, save money and/or make money because at the end of the day, it’s the bottom line that companies predominantly care about.
What are your specific career successes that would matter to the employer?
If you are in a position that doesn’t contribute directly to saving time, saving money, or making money, how did you contribute to business activities or projects that did achieve one or more of those things?
The objective of all of this branding and being clear on how you can help employers solve problems, is to articulate what your value proposition is.
But be careful.
Your value goes beyond just what you know and what you do – it’s more about how you did things well that solved some kind of problem that eventually led to saving time, saving money, and/or making money.
Ask yourself – what is your unique value proposition? If you have no clue, then you really need to figure that out before you start your job search.
#5: You aren’t being proactive
If you’re doing what 99% of jobseekers do, you are not in a position of control because you’re waiting for something to drop in your lap which might be a very long time – or never happen.
You’re also trying to fit yourself into a company that might not be a good fit for you. You don’t want to waste time and energy interviewing for jobs that are not ideal.
The better way is to take matters into your own hands by establishing a preferred list of companies you want to work for and go after them whether there’s a job or not. Recruiters do this with top talent and call it “marketing a candidate”. You can do the same thing for yourself.
It just makes more sense to find organizations that are a good fit rather than trying to fit yourself into something that isn’t.
By choosing who you want to work for because you believe in their mission and product/service, you are going to feel better and more empowered because you aren’t waiting around for something to happen.
#6: You aren’t networking
To make your proactive job search successful, you need to do a lot of networking because most of the job vacancies are filled through referrals – NOT job boards or online applications.
If you don’t have a network or know anyone on the “inside”, you need to build a network and leverage it properly so that you are in a better position to be referred for a job vacancy or at least find out about those “hidden jobs”.
Recruiters and hiring managers use Linkedin regularly to find people. If you don’t have a Linkedin profile, you need to create one and build your network. If you have a profile, you need to ensure it has been properly optimized for your target field.
In any event, you need to expand your network and tap into it to uncover opportunities and get referrals.
Building more relationships off and online in your target field is the key to improving your job search success.
#7: Your interview skills are rusty
The sad truth is that it’s not about the best or most talented person who gets the job – it’s often about how well they interview.
The reality is, to boost your job search success, you need to know how to answer behavioural questions which require a more detailed and thoughtful response than just a “yes” or “no” answer.
The interviewer will be analyzing the story you come up with to address the question. It will give clues as to your personality, your experience, how you articulate ideas and concepts, how well you understood the question, among other things.
You need to know how to answer behavioural questions well so that you don’t struggle to find the answer or go off on a tangent.
While you should prep for the most common questions, you can’t possibly prepare for all of them. This is why it’s important for you to know how to talk about specific experiences that you had in your career which can be used to answer behavioural questions.
Make a list of the problems, challenges, or obstacles you faced and how you dealt with them. If there were positive and desired business outcomes, what were they exactly?
Don’t worry – it doesn’t mean that every story has to be a “success story”. Not every situation has a desired result. However, you should be able to articulate what you learned from those experiences and how they helped you grow professionally.
The more career stories you can come up with, the easier it will be to answer interview questions, because you will have specific examples you can share.
#8: Your cover letter is boring and redundant
A large percentage of recruiters and hiring managers WANT to read a cover letter because it can give them clues as to your written communication skills, your personality, how much you know about the job/company, if you read the job posting, and other important things.
However, they want to read something that’s clear, concise, and engaging – not a boring letter that was made using a template that makes it sound like everyone else’s cover letter.
What you don’t want to do is send a long re-hash of your résumé which is not effective.
What you need, is a short and engaging cover letter that expresses what your “story” is – who you are, how you help organizations, why you want to work for this company in this role, among other things that will spark interest.
You also want to show that you have done your homework, so weaving in your knowledge about the company and industry can be very powerful and motivate the reader to keep reading.
#9: Your résumé isn’t easily skimmed
Just a word of warning – most résumé templates that I’ve seen are NOT designed for recruiters or hiring managers so be very careful when using them (unless it’s one of mine!)
Recruiters and many hiring managers are notorious for being “skimmers” – they aren’t reading your résumé line by line. They are looking for specific information such as keywords and metrics. If they don’t see them within the first 6 to 10 maybe 20 seconds tops, they will move on to the next résumé.
Instead of a fancy infographic “résumé”, what you really need is a simple, streamlined document that has a lot of white space and key information that is placed strategically on the first page and as close to the top as possible.
You have to deliver your Unique value Proposition BEFORE the human reaches the end of the first page. The second and third pages are there to offer the DETAILS – it’s the top of the first page where you hook them.
#10: Your LinkedIn profile is not properly optimized
Recruiters are not waiting around for résumés – they are proactively seeking out candidates to fill specific roles and use Linkedin on a regular basis to find and reach out to talent.
When the recruiter enters a search string, it will pull up the top profiles that meet that criteria. In order for you to come up in a search on Linkedin, you need to make sure that your profile has been optimized and contains the right information in the right sections.
While the Linkedin profile is similar to a résumé, it serves a different function and therefore must be designed a bit differently to ensure that you can be found.
#11: You are not investing enough in your career/job search
If you are struggling with your job search and not getting the results you want, chances are you are trying to do everything on your own and relying on free tips and advice.
The problem is, free might be good but it’s not going to be enough to get you to where you want to go quickly.
The most successful jobseekers invest time, energy, and money in their career. They close their knowledge gaps by getting the help that they need – whether it’s purchasing “done-for-you” services, taking a course or getting some coaching.
If you want to reduce the amount of time it typically takes to secure the next opportunity, you need to work with an expert who can help you through the process by:
☑ answering your questions,
☑ helping you uncover and articulate your value,
☑ helping you prepare for interviews,
☑ reviewing your career marketing documents to make sure they’re properly optimized
……and to give you whatever support you need, even if it’s just being a cheerleader.
Time to take action and get help!
I highly recommend you retain the services of a career professional to help you ace your job search. One wrong move can get you disqualified from the running. Feel free to contact me here.
Résumé and interview help is only a click away!
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Hi! I’m Diana.
I leverage over 10 years recruitment and sales/marketing experience to create attention-grabbing résumés, cover letters, and Linkedin profiles that help job seekers stand out, get noticed, and get hired. You can learn more about my story here and about how I can help you here.
Need help? That’s what I’m here for!
Are you in the midst of a job search and not getting the results you want? Or are you’re thinking of making a change and want to make sure you get started off on the right foot? Then I recommend you reach out for some help. You can contact me directly here!
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