“Remember, the goal of your resume is to get an interview, not to get a job. The goal of the interview is to get the job”. This statement by James Neilsen, CEO of Vendition, made me realize how job searching is similar to an assembly line: focus on one part at a time and, in the end, you’ll get a quality finished product. Similarly, in the job search process, there are multiple phases with multiple steps within each phase. Therefore, below are seven steps for you to take in Phase 1, the phase in which you search and apply for positions:
1. Decide what you want.
First and foremost, you need to do some soul-searching by thinking about your goals and priorities. Then, research compatible job possibilities. What fields or industries interest you? How much do you want to earn monthly/yearly? What jobs exist within your chosen industries? What are general educational or experience requirements for those positions? What are some companies that exist in those industries?
2. Google yourself and manage your online reputation.
You can bet social media is part of your application process. According to surveys, 66% of employers run a Google search on candidates. Do it first and get your profiles in shape to stay ahead of the game. Here are some tips on how to manage your social media presence.
3. Create and manage an online portfolio.
Many job applications now require you to include work samples or a link to a portfolio, along with your resume. LinkedIn has become one of the top job related tools, with 87% of hiring managers turning to it when screening candidates. Nexxt offers the opportunity for job seekers to revamp the information listed on their resumes into a visual infographic. A survey conducted by Nexxt showed that 58% of employers said that such a document would allow them to assess candidates more efficiently. There are many platforms available now in which you can create engaging and effective portfolios. Therefore, make sure you have one up and running.
4. Browse the job boards (but don’t apply yet!)
Browse job boards and sites and select the positions that interest you. Don’t apply directly through the job board, just yet, because quite often your application will go through the applicant-tracking system, or ATS, which may simply pass over your application materials if it doesn’t detect the right information. Therefore, just select the positions that interest you.
5. Find hiring managers and other connections.
Once you know the positions for which you want to apply, use tools such as the companies’ about and social media pages to find connections in your own network, the hiring managers, or other key influencers who work at the company. Learn what you can about these contacts and gather their email addresses.
6. Keep your resume short, concise, and relevant.
Hiring managers simply don’t have time to go through long resumes and CVs, unless if that is the standard for your chosen industry. Generally, keep your resume to 1 page; 2 pages maximum. Use keywords from the job posting in your resume and cover letter so that it not only goes through ATS, but also attracts the attention of real readers. Also, yes, please do include a cover letter. A cover letter is the perfect opportunity to make your first pitch and positive impression on a potential employer.
7. Email the contacts directly.
Once you have your resume and cover letter ready, email the contacts you gathered. If you customize your cover letter in a way that “speaks” to the contact, you can copy and paste the cover letter as your email body and then attach your resume.
Getting your application in front of real people is important. I know of one person who applied for academic positions. When he applied through job boards, he almost had a 0% response rate. However, when he started using the job boards more as research tools, but then applied to positions by directly contacting the key players, the response rate jumped up significantly. Therefore, it is important to get in front of a real (and the right!) person and not just leave your application up to ATS.
Also note that if there’s a company you’re interested in, but there are no job openings posted, you can still email the contacts and ask for an informal phone call or meeting, in which you can then discuss your qualifications and potential opportunities at the company.
The job search process can be lengthy and time consuming, but if we break the process down into phases and then, furthermore, into steps, it becomes much more organized and manageable. Therefore, again, the goal of the job application is to get an interview for positions that interest you. Keep this as your goal. Start by researching and then planning out your game strategy, and you will be landing interviews in no time.