200 resumes sent out and not a single interview? We hear it constantly, both in person at the job fairs we attend, as well as through the site by new members who have come to us, frustrated with the process of finding work. While part of this stems from the current economy and issue of having too many job seekers applying to too few jobs, some of it is the result of common missteps made by job applicants. Here are some of the most glaring ones we see at Hourly on a regular basis, and solutions for getting it fixed.
The job doesn’t (really) exist – Otherwise known as the phantom job post. While there are no rules governing employers, many companies will require that their HR departments list all open jobs on their site or a career board for a period of time to ensure that hiring process appears to be fair (transparent), and protects them from potential lawsuits or audits. In truth it’s estimated that over 50% of the jobs listed by large-scale organizations are filled internally or on a casual basis, through existing networks, making it impossible to get a fair shake and tell good from bad.
Solution: Given how often a single job is reposted, if you find one that interests you on an aggregated job board the best thing to do is to go directly to the company’s own website to see if the job exists there and see what additional information you can get such as when it was posted, and any internal contacts.
Your application is #501 in their inbox – We’ve all heard the early bird gets the worm, but for the HR manager who receives in excess of 500+ applications a single job post, timing is critical. While most jobs are posted for 30 days, to get the attention of any hiring manager, you really need to have your application in the first three days a jobs is posted. After that, it does not matter how qualified you may be, they have likely started the process, and your resume is now sitting at the bottom of a pile.
Solution: Be sure to set alerts on those companies or positions that interest you most so that you will receive a notification of any new jobs the minute they are posted. On Hourly we tackle this two ways, by directly alerting our users or any new posts, as well as having their (matched) profile appear to employers once a job has been posted, ensuring a connection is made.
Mistakes abound - There is simply no faster way to have your application deleted or tossed in the trash than to have a resume and cover letter that is full of grammatical and spelling mistakes. One mistake can happen, two communicates a lack of focus & professionalism, anything beyond that and your sunk.
Solution: Have a friend (who was an English major) or better yet invest in the service of a resume expert (at least once) and them review your resume from soup to nuts. This includes spelling and grammar, but also the context and key words. Even the format you use has an impact on how your information is communicated to employers, so take some time to get it right.
Your social footprint is a mess - Based on a CareerBuilder study, it’s estimated that two out of five companies now use social-networking sites like LinkedIn, Facebook, MySpace and Twitter to screen potential candidates (other services like Reppler put it at 91%). While some companies are reluctant to look into a candidate’s social media history out of fear of anything that could be deemed discriminatory i.e. religion, race, gender, health and lifestyle; other companies are looking to these sites for social cues and final litmus test before offering the job. What are they looking for? According to a Corporate Executive Board study, 44% of recruiters said that trashing an employer on social media is enough to land an applicant in the reject pile, 30% said inappropriate language, while 17% said excessive personal information (drinking, drugs, sex, etc.) See how Reppler’s breaks it down
Solution: Clean it up and lock it down. Beyond your resume, what an employer sees & reads about you online is their first impression of who you are, so take the time to ensure that what you are projecting to the world, casts you in the best light. Even typos here make an impression. As for those personal rants or photos of you at Burning Man, keep ‘em to yourself or to a very restricted group.
Your experience/skills don’t match the job description - We recently heard a statistics that 50% of online job applicants apply to positions that do not match their skill set. It is one thing to aim high or want to transition into a new career, but if you don’t have the skills or experience listed in the job post as being “required”, forget it. Increasingly people use electronic applications as a means to feel busy sending in applications to available jobs and in the end you are doing yourself and the recruiter a huge disservice.
Solution: Don’t send the application unless you are serious about a job and have the credentials to actually be considered. If it a job that you think you could tackle or grow into (perhaps they are asking for 8 years of experience and you have 5), then make sure to address mismatch in your cover letter and explain what you bring to the table and why you can do the job, despite this disparity.
Your resume is not keyword optimized - You’ve got the skills, the experience, the references, the kick-ass resume…but you are still not getting the call –blame the Applicant Tracking Systems aka ATS. While these systems have been put in place as a means of aiding HR professionals weed through the endless applications they receive to find “the right fit”, they are in their very nature inherently flawed. In fact it’s estimated that 75% of job seekers don’t make the cut due the way in which their resume is formatted or key words & phrases used to describe their experience. Read more tips from CIO.com & ComeRecommend on this topic
Solution: Review the original job listing and make sure that your resume reflects specific keywords used, as well as any common industry terms and jargon (phrases). Forget fancy graphics and photos and instead make sure that your “Work Experience” is formatted in such a way that it will be parsed correctly, i.e. Employer’s name, followed by your title, followed by the dates you held that title, in that order. This is the same system we use at Hourly to convert our member’s profile data into resumes that can use elsewhere and has shown great success in getting candidates through the door.