Before you hit the “apply” button, make sure the application is worth your time.
As a career coach I often talk to job seekers who are frustrated over the lack of response from employers. This phenomenon is commonly referred to as the “Black Hole,” and leaves most job seekers discouraged with no updates on their application’s status and no feedback to help improve their future applications.
While you can’t control the recruiter’s actions, there are things you can do to combat the Black Hole and improve your application’s return-on-investment.
Take more time
A recent eye-tracking study conducted by Ladders found that the average job seeker only spends about a minute reviewing a job description before deciding if it’s worth an application. Let’s face it – applying to jobs can be a very tedious and time-consuming process, especially when each application is properly tailored. With that in mind, I encourage you to take a few extra minutes before you apply to carefully read the job description and assess the application’s potential ROI.
Consider the location
Are you within commutable distance of this opportunity? Or if you’re in sales, do you have an established book of business in this area? If the position requires relocation, let employers know in your cover letter that there’s a good reason for the move. In other words, make it clear you didn’t make this decision on a whim and that you’re not an expensive flight risk.
Focus on responsibilities & requirements
Read the responsibilities and requirements sections of the job description carefully – what skill sets, education level and years of experience do they require? While the employer probably doesn’t expect you to have every single qualification, they do expect you to meet all the core “must-have” requirements. Only apply to jobs where you possess these must-haves. Remember, job titles often carry different meanings depending on the organization and its industry, so the responsibilities and requirements are a better indication of the level of the role (and its budgeted salary).
Identify the industry
Have you worked in the same or a very similar industry within the past 3-6 years? Not every position requires industry-specific experience; however, possessing this background is often more attractive to employers. If you don’t have relevant industry experience, be ready to highlight your transferable skills in your resume and cover letter. If you’re looking for a change, research your former colleagues to see where else their experience was accepted.
Tailor your applications
Edit your resume and cover letter so that your job goals and qualifications are obvious. Incorporate key terms from your targeted job’s requirements into your resume to make it past the electronic gatekeeper. Test your application’s readability by handing it over to a friend with a copy of the job description. If your friend has trouble identifying your qualifications, then you know it’s not clear enough. If you need help, seek out a resume expert.
Check your network
Map out your personal and professional network so you can easily research connections between your contacts. Before you apply to a job, check to see if you know anyone who currently works at the company and seek their endorsement. Studies have shown you are ten times more likely to land an interview when your application is accompanied by an employee referral.