So often a new client comes to us because they have made a multitude of job applications and have become very frustrated about their lack of success. Some blame the recruitment system (rightly so, as there are many flaws), others dislike recruiters and often they just simply lose confidence in themselves and their ability to successfully job search. Therefore, they turn to a career coach as a last resort, in search of expert help.
Job searching is a challenging process for the best candidates, particularly with online job sites and complex recruitment process. It is time consuming and often you are writing an application for a very vague job ad. Without knowing ‘how to play the job search game’ you can dwindle away hundreds of hours and find yourself not even getting through to the interview stage. In this article we will explain some of the rules of the game and ways to increase your ‘Yes’ pile odds.
Some myths about online job applications …
Technological change has created opportunities for organisations and candidates to communicate 24/7. It has also enabled people from anywhere in the world to connect. The bad news is that this ease of communication creates the assumption that it is easy to get to interview stage. Here are some common reasons why the process is not working and some relevant examples:
- The recruiter may write a vague advertisement or do not check the details and attract too many candidates or even inappropriate candidates. One example is a recruitment client who accidently marked the location for the job as Melbourne, USA, not Melbourne, Australia!
- The candidate will tend to write generic one application for many jobs and avoid tailoring their application for each job. The similarity of the process may also make candidates assume the requirements for each application are exactly the same for every job. I helped a client get through to the ‘yes’ pile after their first application was rejected. By helping them write an authentic cover letter that described why they were really interested in the organisation the second application was successful.
- Candidates do not read the job application instructions. Another client specifically asked for an extra piece of information in the application – a short description of their interest in this small, start up business. Only one applicant out of 60 actually submitted as per client’s instructions! If you want the role you have to follow the application instructions exactly. There is usually a very good reason why they want this information.
- The technology is only as smart on recruitment as the person who entered the selection criteria in the recruitment system. Some recruitment software providers call it ‘AI’, where key word matching is a tool used to shorten a large application list. If your application does not include the key words, its unlikely it will make it to stage two, having a human review it. Once I had a client apply for a role in Australia who was originally from America. The computer system allocated my client’s application to the USA office due to an assumption based on the last role, which happened to be in USA!
I am sure that you will appreciate that there are many other reasons for lack of job application success. Watch this TedTalk on one recruiter’s experience of poor online applications for internships in Dubai and suggestions on why they were unsuccessful.
What will you do differently to make you are in the ‘yes’ pile?
Here are our top three tips to help you prepare successful job applications.
Tip #1: Take a strategic approach to your job search
One of the most important tips for job searching is to value the learning experience and start by preparing your story and exploring your interests, personality, values and strengths before setting a career direction. Then the job search is actually the marketing part of your job search, not the starting point.
Set aside some time when you have no deadlines or interruptions to review and update your resume (and your career strategy too) when you do not need it. This will take the pressure off yourself to produce something quickly when you need to make a job application. By allocating time to write your resume when you are not applying for a new job you will be less stressed and thinking clearer about what you include in your resume.
Incorporating career planning and resume updates into your year will also help you to prepare for your annual appraisal and reflect on your career progress too. Your resume is a marketing document and using the principles of ‘getting prepared before you go to market’ by clearly knowing what you want to sell, who is your likely customer, will help you create a winning resume.
Think of your resume as a database of your career history. You can create a long document that lists your key achievements and records your career moves, qualifications ready to edit down to create a tailored resume for a specific application. This could also be used for your annual career development and appraisal discussions with your boss. Think about how you can use this database to help argue your case for a pay rise too.
Tip #2: Focus on solving the hirer’s problem
A client rang me very stressed about an executive level job application and wanted resume writing help in the next 24 hours. When I reviewed the advertisement, it required a specific qualification that my client did not have. When I pointed this out to my client, they were so relieved that they did not waste their time applying for a job that they had no chance of getting.
This story illustrates that so many job seekers do not know what the recruiter wants. Often our fear of acceptance is tied up in writing a resume and we feel that the audience is judging us by reading our resume. In reality, when you apply for a job, your audience will want you to succeed as they want you to fix their problem – to fill their vacancy.
The audience, or recruiter, will have written a job advertisement with an ideal candidate in mind. So, use the information they give you to understand what they are interested in. Create a checklist to make sure that you have written about all the ‘essential criteria’ in your resume. That way you will be writing about what they are interest in and easily engage your audience.
Get familiar with your audience. Do some research on the company, find out why there is a vacancy, explore their culture and look at the profile of the people who are in the recruitment process. Company website and LinkedIn are great resources for this information. See glassdoor.com for some key employer profiles.
Using this technique will also help you to check whether you are applying for a role that is right for you too.
Tip #3: Analyse the job advertisement to avoid wasting your efforts
Read the job advertisement and position description in detail to check that you are clear on the job requirements (see the key criteria section). Then, use a checklist to make sure that you match at least 80% of the key criteria. Do not waste your time on applying for jobs that are not right for you. This exercise will keep you objective and help you to plan how you write your application too.
Use the advertisement to learn about the organisation reasons for the vacancy. Note any concerns. This is research! Get to know your job market – country, industry and profession. This analysis will also help you to reflect on why you want the job too. All important to include this in your cover letter.
Need extra help?
If you are feeling stressed about your job search in Australian and would like career coaching support contact us for a complementary initial discussion on your needs and how our coaching programs can help you to make the most of your job applications on our website.
Sue Daniels +61 417 331 162. firstname.lastname@example.org
Kelly Magowan +61 417 330 693 email@example.com