QUESTION: My job search is going nowhere! I have been responding to ads by sending out my resume, but nothing happens. What’s missing?
Being stuck creates an ideal launching pad for creativity. If your job search is going nowhere, ask yourself what you could be doing differently. Perhaps it’s getting out and volunteering or attending conferences in your field. You can make connections and ask professionals to give you tips on your resume. You may even have luck hiring a professional resume writer.
Most likely, you don’t have a key skills section in your resume–or, the keywords in it aren’t properly aligned with the postings you’re applying to. You need at least a 60% correlation between the keywords in your resume and the job posting for your resume to make it through an applicant tracking system.
Responding to ads was a great strategy during the 1990s… Breaking news, that was more than two decades ago. Today’s best practices suggest strongly that the most effective search includes surveying targeted companies, researching key decision-makers, and reaching out directly to them, using common points of interest.
Most companies use Applicant Tracking Software (ATS) to filter out resumes that do not fit their hiring profile. If your resume is not ATS friendly or keyword optimized, you will be cut-out before a human ever reads it – regardless of your qualifications. Tailor each resume so the keywords used match each job description. Incorrect graphics and formatting are also a problem. Keep it simple.
Essentially so far you have only leveraged “cold” application measures when applying for a new job. Response rates to ads and cold application scenarios tend to be very low. Try to develop warm leads by identifying and connecting with decision-makers to whom you can directly send your resume. You will see much better response rates.
The cause could be any number of reasons. You may be applying for positions that you are either over- or under-qualified. You may not be networking enough. How are you going about getting those interviews? How well planned is your job search? Are you using an ASCII/Plain Text version when applying on the Internet?
First, always include a customized cover letter with three examples of recent work and the results that reflect what’s in the job posting. Second, use LinkedIn — connecting with people in the function you are applying to and for a 5-minute call to learn more about the role. Third, spend more time making human contacts to find opportunities and open doors.
If you are not getting interviews, the bottleneck is threefold. First, stop applying online and spend more time in informational interviews to learn what your ideal role requires. Second, home in on a few ideal positions whose requirements are similar in function, industry, and expertise. Third, hire an expert resume writer to translate your experience into those requirements!
It could be a number of things. 1) Is your resume ATS compliant? 2) Are you sending out cover letters along with the resumes? 3) Are you taking the time to make sure your resume is really a match for the position? 4) Are you ONLY sending out your resume but not using LinkedIn, or networking? Perhaps schedule a consultation with a professional to do some troubleshooting.
Assuming you meet the required qualifications, you likely have one or both of two problems: First, make sure your resume contains relevant keywords for the position at hand. Second, create achievement-oriented content that describes your contributions to profitability, customer satisfaction, process improvement, problem solving, change management, etc. Success stories make it hard to ignore you!
When you apply to a posted opening, you have to be a “perfect” candidate because the company can choose from dozens, even hundreds, of applicants. Try, instead, to be a referred candidate—where you have 100% chance of getting an interview! It’s easier than you might think. When you see a posting that’s perfect for you, use tools like LinkedIn to find connections and reach out for a conversation.
Your resume is only part of your job search. Make sure you customize it to the specific job opportunity, include a cover letter that explains why you are the perfect candidate, and make sure your LinkedIn profile showcases your accomplishments. Once you apply, do a little research and reach out the HR team or company management to make sure they are aware of your interest and qualifications.
A successful job search often requires the strategy and guidance of a professionally customized program. Career Consultants concentrate their energy on determining what services will help you reach your goal. Every job seeker requires different combinations and concentrations of services. Available services are numerous, ranging from detailed career evaluations to customized business correspondence and, of course, a resume that’s tailored with overall strategy in mind. Classes may be scheduled to provide fascinating details on today’s job marketplace.
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