Have you ever applied for a job or answered an online job posting but were not asked to an interview? I’m sure it’s happened to most of us—so what can we do to get a higher response rate?
First of all, apply for jobs you are qualified for or jobs that fit your background. This seems obvious, but from my experience sifting through thousands of resumes, many people still don’t understand this concept. Just yesterday, we received a resume from a truck driver responding to a job posting that we had out for a financial controller. The majority of the resumes we receive don’t ever get to the interview stage simply because they are not qualified.
It’s human nature for people to apply for jobs that they desire, and I’m not here to discourage people from taking a shot. But in the many stages of the hiring cycle, the stage where most candidates get weeded out is the resume stage. Many people try blasting resumes out to as many postings as possible, thinking this shot-gun approach will sway the law of averages. But if your aim is way off, it doesn’t matter if you have a bazooka, you’ll still miss the target.
In this day and age, it’s possible to be more accurate in your job search than ever before. You don’t need the shotgun approach. You can take more strategic shots at job openings and get a better response rate by taking these four steps:
1. Before sending in your resume, make an accurate assessment of yourself. Outline your entire background and work experience. I’m not talking about recreating your resume. This is just a brainstorm for your own use, to properly gauge your skills. Put down everything you can think of, from technical skills to soft skills to industry experience to anything that would be relevant in any job setting.
2. Take this list and look for jobs that interest you, and select the ones in which you have a minimum of 80 percent of the requirements. Just as companies weed resumes out, you need to weed job postings out that don’t fit your background. Depending on the flow of resumes a company gets for a particular job, even resumes that don’t meet 100 percent of the requirements may get weeded out, so keep that in mind.
3. Once you’ve narrowed down your postings, you can take better aim at your target. It’s vital that you thoroughly research the companies you are applying to. Do your due diligence and evaluate everything, including corporate culture, work environment, management team, industry and/or niche, and hiring profile. Organizations don’t necessarily hire the “best” or most skilled candidate; they hire candidates that best fit the role and their company.
4. Now put everything together. You have to customize each resume for its job posting. If you meet 100 percent of the job requirements, it’s a no-brainer and you’ll probably get a response. But it’s likely you also want to apply for jobs where you fall short, from a qualifications standpoint, so you’ll have to fill in the gaps with the information you gathered from your research. That is why I recommend having a minimum of 80 percent of the qualifications. It’s more manageable to fill a pothole than a crater. For example, you may be able to make up for a lack of experience with a certain software package by highlighting your expertise with a comparable software. On the other hand, if you’ve never been an accountant before, and your experience revolves around driving a truck, there’s nothing that can fill that gap.
I think most of us are optimistic when we send our resume to a potential employer. But there is a big difference between optimism and delusion, so take the delusion out of your job search and be more strategic. If your aim is on target, you may only need to take one shot.
Song Woo, an employment and career management expert, is the president and CEO of Lighthouse Management Group.
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