So the assumption here is that you’re applying for jobs and you’re not getting anywhere; no interviews. Without being invited to the job interview, you’re not getting offers, and so you feel increasingly frustrated and discouraged. It would seem to make no sense at all to just keep on plugging away doing the same thing and expecting different results. To see a change in things – the result being you land interviews and do well enough to get offered a job – you’re going to need a change in how you go about things.
If you don’t like the idea of doing things differently from what you’re doing now, stop reading. So we’re clear here, a change in things means putting in the work to get the outcome you’re after. Hence, if you’re not ready to put in that effort, again, stop reading here.
To begin with, you need an independent and objective look at how you’re going about applying for jobs. If you’re mass producing a single resume and submitting it to all the jobs you apply to, the good news is we’ve quickly discovered one major thing you need to change. That was how you applied for jobs back in the 90’s when there were more jobs and fewer people to compete with for them. Today you need a résumé that differs each and every time you submit it. No more photocopying; no more mass printings.
As I’ve said time and time again, employers are generous enough to give away most if not all the job requirements in the job postings you’ll find these days. Any résumé they receive and check must therefore clearly communicate that the applicant has the qualifications, experience and soft skills they are looking for. It’s no mystery; a targeted resume (one that is made specifically for the single job you are applying to and never duplicated for another) will advance your chances.
Now are you writing a cover letter? This is something you’ll get differing perspectives on from Employment Coaches, Recruiters, Company Executives and Employment Counsellors. Some will say you should include them while others say the cover letter is dead. Unless the employer specifically asks you NOT to include one, my vote goes with including one. Why? The cover letter sets up the résumé, shows your ability to communicate effectively, tells the reader both why you are interested in the job with the organization, what you’ll bring, how enthusiastic you are about the opportunity and why you’re uniquely qualified.
Whether or not you go with the cover letter, please make sure you get your résumé and / or cover letter proofread by someone who has the skills to pick out improper spelling and poor grammar. Also, even if the grammar and spelling are correct, it might not be communicating what you really want to say. Unfortunately then, it could be doing you more harm than good; especially when applying for employment in positions where you’d be creating correspondence yourself, such as an Office Administrative professional.
Once you have applied for employment, what else – if anything – are you doing to stand out from the other applicants you’re up against? If your answer is nothing; that you wait by the phone for them to call if they are interested in you, well then you’ve just identified another area you need to up your game. Following through with employers indicates a sincere personal motivation to land that interview. After the interview, further follow-up is advised to again separate yourself from those who do nothing. In other words, how bad do you want it?
Recently, someone I know applied for a job and then took the steps of actually job shadowing someone in the role with a different organization so they could gain first-hand experience themselves. While this is a great idea, they failed to communicate this to the employer they were actually hoping to work for. So this initiative went unknown, as did their sincere interest in landing the job. In short, they just looked like every other applicant; applying and then sitting at home waiting.
Look, there are a lot of people who will claim to be resume experts, cover letter writers extraordinaire and so it’s difficult for the average person to know the real professionals from the pretenders. Just because someone works with a reputable organization doesn’t make them immediately credible. Some pros charge for their investment of time working on your behalf while others offer their services free of charge as their paid via the organizations they work for. You don’t always get what you pay for as I’ve seen some $500 resumes that had spelling errors and layout issues that won’t pass software designed to edit them out of the process.
Do your homework. More important than anyone you might enlist to help you out is the effort you yourself are ready to invest. If you’re happy to pay someone to do your résumé and you don’t have an interest in sitting down with them to give advice yourself and learn from the process, don’t be surprised if you still don’t get the results you want. Should you actually get an interview, with no time invested in learning how to best interview, you’ll likely fall short of actually getting the offer.
Applying for employment today takes time and effort, but the payoff is the job you want. Make the effort; put in the work.