Unfortunately the way we apply for most jobs, you become a keyword statistic in the online world of resume submissions. You have to stand to out from the crowd to get noticed. The process can be overwhelming, but if you are diligent and confident, eventually you will get interviews.
Employers are searching for skills that can accomplish a task. This is what they are paying you to do. Recruiters use applicant tracking systems to pre-screen job applicants. To stay noticed, job applicants should apply for jobs where their skill sets match the keywords in the job description. Hiring managers will stand up and notice your qualifications through this initial process.
What are some of the pitfalls?
There is an increase of older workers searching for jobs today. The over fifty group has more experience than the millennials searching for the same jobs, but they might not possess the news skills to get those jobs. Learning new technology skills required in most jobs is imperative. There are dozens of online courses to choose to learn these skills. Many of them offer certification, which gives you more credibility.
If you are a younger applicant and do not have as much work experience, consider internships for companies and industries you want to work in to gain experience. Consider providing samples of projects that you have already completed that you were successful at. This is a plus when submitting a resume with very limited work experience. New graduates with little professional experience should highlight activities that demonstrate a leadership role or a passionate activity related to your field.
If you don’t fully meet the criteria in the job description, learn how to bridge the gaps. Show the employer that an experience or something you did would be relevant to that position, such as “I did not work in management before but, I have always worked with customer’s directly one on one. I successfully solved issues in the customer service department, advising other employees on how to get the job done.” Checking the criteria of the position and provide experience based examples that match the job requirements.
Getting the interview.
Most hiring managers will use a quick phone interview to screen candidates they are interested as a prerequisite to scheduling the in person interview. Make sure to sound enthusiastic about the opportunity. Have the job description in front of you for questions that you would need to factually answer in detail quickly. Do not interrupt while the interviewer is speaking. It is better to wait and pause, then proceed to answer than rush to respond.
Prepare yourself for the traditional questions hiring managers ask and write down the questions and answers prior to the interview. If the interviewer asks about your present job, proceed to first mention your accomplishments and how your skills can relate to the current position and how they led to a successful event. Do not just answer with generic job functions. Let the interview hear how you solved a problem. Demonstrate how you turned a task into an achievement.
Open your horizons.
Aside from sending out your resume online from jobs sites, visit your industry contacts and people you know. Ask them to recommend you for an introduction to a senior manager in your industry that you are looking to work in. Greet the new connection stating you were referred by your colleague and ask if they are hiring. Follow up the phone call by writing a unique cover letter letting them know you are seeking a new opportunity and why. Even if they say they are no hiring, still send a follow up letter. If you don’t ever ask your contacts, the answer will always be no. Attending industry events on a regular basis is also a great way to educate yourself on who’s hiring, and what is transpiring in companies around town.
How to stand out from the other applicants from the job?
If you do not have all the qualifications listed in the job, hiring managers will look to see if you have other outstanding qualities that may help earn your candidacy for the job. Read the job description clearly and present each resume you send written specifically with that job description in mind. Replace relevant keywords that match the description to that job with your skill set. Don’t lie and use keywords that you do not have experience in.
Your resume should be a reflection of what you have done and how you were able to accomplish those tasks. Use action verbs because they are powerful. Be brief and highlight between four to five key accomplishments in one short sentence.
Here are some examples:
Successfully sold software to C- Level executives meeting 2 million dollar quarterly quota.
Exceeded quota each month by developing relationships and adding value to the company’s balance sheet.
Developed an accepted proposal to management to cut costs for the company.
Lead the creative team in developing templates & systems for efficiency & faster turnaround.
Advised the marketing team to help establish guidelines & workflow.
The idea is to make a benefit out of a task. You are selling yourself to the employer and why they should hire you. Use terms such as orchestrated, developed, consulted, implemented, successfully, and conducted to name a few.
Once you are called for an interview, preparation is key. Research the company and ask questions about the job in the interview. Remember, this is a two way process and you are also interviewing them to see if you want to work there.
Do some internet research on sites like Glassdoor where you can get insights into a company’s culture based on reviews of other applicants and employees. Perform searches on the company’s press releases, financial information and relevant industry information to better prepare questions you may have during the interview. If the hiring manager sees that you have made the time to do this research, it should give you an edge over other applicants. You may get asked a question about a news event the company is having, or how they just made an important acquisition that may affect the company department. If you can elaborate a bit on some of these topics, it shows that you have an interest and an understanding of the core values of the company.
Lastly, remember to also ask relevant questions to your interviewer so you can get an idea about the company and the position.
Examples of follow up questions to the interviewer
What do you enjoy most about working for XYZ Corporation?
What tools are used to complete tasks?
What challenges in the position did the previous candidate accomplish or what did they fall short with?
What is the top priority required in the position in the first three months?
What is the way I would be collaborating with my manager?
How do you feel about my qualifications for the position?
Preparing for an interview and job search will give you a lot of confidence to succeed in finding the right job for you.
This article originally appeared on Cweb in 2016.