One of the biggest complaints we hear from job seekers all the time is:
“I’ve applied to over 100 jobs, and I’ve heard nothing (or very little) back.”
And the reason for this is very simple. Here's what's happening when you traditionally apply for a job online (either on a job board, a company website, or even on LinkedIn).
Your resume gets put into the Applicant Tracking System - which is essentially a keyword tracking finder.
The ATS will look for certain keywords and a certain number of those keywords, which can be impossible for you to actually know what they’re looking for. (Not all job descriptions have the keywords they're looking for on a resume)
If your resume doesn’t pass their ATS, it immediately spits it back out, and your chances of having your resume viewed by human eyes goes out the window.
If your resume does pass, it ends up in a pile of 100’s of other applicants that also passed.
From there, human eyes may actually look at your resume but it’s going to be fast - like 6 seconds on average, fast.
If you don’t stand out, if you’re not the perfect fit, or if you don’t have the most important qualifications - then you end up in the no pile.
If you end up in the yes pile, chances are at least 1 or 2 other sets of eyes are going to look through your resume before they even attempt to call you for a phone interview, And how long are they looking at your resume? Yup - another 6 seconds.
This is all to say that the odds are NOT in your favor when you just apply to a large number of jobs and call it a day.
So what should you stop doing in your job search to help improve your odds, and what should you be doing instead?
Stop spending all of your time just applying to jobs on job boards
For every position that you find on a large job board, at least 1 or 2 of those people who are also applying to the job are going to have an "in" at that company. If you're just blindly applying, it's not going to work out very well, and these people will quickly stand out ahead of you.
What you should be doing instead is after you find a job that you really love and apply, hop on over to LinkedIn and find a recruiter or hiring manager that is involved with that company and/or position. Start building a relationship with them, and your odds of landing an interview are going to increase!
Stop applying to multiple jobs at the same company
You cannot be qualified for everything, even if you think you are.
If you are trying to apply for multiple jobs at a company, you need to stop applying to jobs altogether and start thinking more carefully about what it is that you want to do.
The problem with this tactic is that the company you're applying to is going to immediately see that you’re desperate, unfocused, and flag your profile. It’s going to take at least a year or more before you can apply again with a real chance of getting in and not showing up as a problem.
What you should be doing instead is if that company is one that you really want to work for, tailor a resume that is specific to the most applicable job, and do your best to find an “in” with a recruiter or hiring manager. Put your efforts on getting the best job, not just any job.
Stop applying for jobs if you’re not at least 80% qualified on paper
Maybe you have more skills and abilities to offer - and chances are you know exactly what those are - but if you can’t articulate those on paper, then your first impression is going to go out the window.
Recruiters are not sitting around assuming anything about your other capabilities. They’re not going to decide, “Well if John knows how to do this skill, then he definitely knows how to do that skill too.”
Spell it out exactly on your resume and don’t make them guess!
What you should be doing instead is if you’re not the obvious match on paper, but you really want this job, either find a way to add in new skills to your resume or find a way to reach out to a hiring manager directly and develop a relationship with them first.
Stop handing off your resume immediately to people before you’ve ever gotten to know them, or built up a relationship
Unless you’re talking with us, no one needs a resume shoved in their face and have you begging them for help. This type of communication isn’t acceptable in any sort of relationship building, and career building is no exception.
This isn’t networking, this is ambushing!
What you should be doing instead is start building a relationship - either in person or via LinkedIn - about common interests, before you start asking for help with a job. Sending a message showing that you have an actual interest in that person and what they can offer goes a long way.
Stop harassing hiring manager or recruiters if they haven’t gotten back with you
Now we’re not saying to stop following up completely - because we talked a lot about that before - but there should be a good period of time between your follow-ups. We’d say at least a week, if not 2. And if you still haven’t heard from someone after the 3rd follow up, you need to move on.
Overall, it’s all about quality over quantity
Spend more time doing thorough research on a company and what they offer to their employees - their values, their growth, who is already working there, and is there room for momentum.
This means looking at their website, their LinkedIn profile, their other social media platforms, their employee profiles, etc. The more you know about an employer, the better your chances are going to be getting a job with them.
And don’t just wait until a job posting pops up to start connecting with that company. Reaching out to a hiring manager with no job available may actually be easier than when one is available!