The most common frustrations I hear from jobseekers are related to applying for jobs online. The application process itself is time-consuming, can be confusing and most of the time you don’t hear back after you’ve submitted your application materials. First of all, if you have applied to hundreds of jobs – STOP! Either you are applying for the wrong type of jobs or your resume is not selling you as well as it could. It might not even be making it through the Applicant Tracking Systems. Read on to see how you can turn things around.
Why Is My Online Job Search Failing?
Here’s the problem with applying to jobs online: your application is only one of hundreds, if not thousands, submitted for each opening. With employers’ increased reliance on Applicant Tracking Systems (ATS) to screen for the most qualified candidates, your application may not even be reviewed by a person if it does not include the right keywords or proper formatting. For more information about getting through these online filters, see my previous blog “Are Applicant Tracking Systems Rigged Against Jobseekers?”.
Making it through the ATS is step #1. Next you must make it through the 6-second screening by a human resources staffer. This initial review helps companies quickly reduce the number of applicants and identify those worth further consideration. In addition to the obvious typos or poor grammar, you might be dismissed if your resume is more than 2 pages long or if it contains big blocks of text that are difficult to read. And don’t try to substitute style for substance. Recruiters and hiring managers can see right through the fluff and won’t waste their time. Your resume must be targeted to the job and you need to quickly show that you have the employer’s desired qualifications.
It is not a numbers game, although that is the approach many jobseekers take. Out of desperation, some people apply to every job they see thinking this will increase their odds of success. In reality, this unfocused effort can prolong your job search. The strategy that consistently works well for my clients is to focus their efforts on a few target companies and get in front of the decision makers. Because employers post only a fraction of available jobs online, don’t limit your job search to online job boards. Use the 80/20 Active versus Passive Rule: spend 80% of your time actively creating opportunities and only 20% on online job boards.
How Can I Turn Things Around?
First you must overcome your fear of the online application process and manage your expectations. Even when you network your way into an interview, you’ll still need to eventually apply for the job online, so it is important to get comfortable with the technology. For those of us who have been in the workforce for a while, today’s job market is very different from what it was when you started your career. The work culture is now global, interconnected and flexible. So, it’s important to understand the job search strategies that work in this 24/7 world.
Pursue the Right Jobs
Without clarifying your goal, how can you possibly achieve it? This means you must decide where you want to work and where your marketability lies. Ask yourself these questions:
- What companies are on your target list?
- What is your ideal job title?
Researching employers online can help you answer these questions. Once you have a clear goal, it is time to develop a plan that will move strategically towards that goal. Break the process down into manageable pieces and lay out the steps in logical order. Be intentional and you’ll make forward progress.
Update Your Resume
Resumes have changed a lot over the last few years. You can’t just dust off your old employment history and expect it to work. Today’s resume is your commercial and it needs to position you for your next role. Create a targeted resume that addresses the employers’ needs and keep it age-neutral. Emphasize the appropriate aspects of your professional experience and use quantified achievements to demonstrate the value you offer an organization.
Keep Your Skills Fresh
Technology and software skills are required for most roles today and are critical to your success in a competitive job market. If you lack the skills employers are looking for, focus on learning them. There are plenty of learning and self-paced training opportunities available for almost any technical skill – many at no charge. Prospective employers will be impressed that you have worked to keep your skills sharp.
Network! Network! Network!
You know that old saying, “It’s not what you know, it’s who you know”? Well, this is especially true when it comes to job searching. Networking is the #1 way to land a new job in 2018. According to Forbes, 80% of available jobs are not advertised externally. Networking with hiring managers will help you access these hidden jobs. Networking doesn’t happen instantly – you need to get out of your comfort zone, and interact with people online and face-to-face. For people who are more introverted (like me), the thought of approaching strangers can be very stressful. Here are some ideas to get you started:
- Use your personal contacts
- Reach out to former colleagues and clients
- Be active on LinkedIn (it is where employers are looking for you)
- Join professional organizations and local job search groups
- Volunteer with a local nonprofit
- Research alumni connections
- Goal + Plan + Effort = Success.
- Identify your next company and then work strategically towards that goal.
- Get out of your house and spend time with people!
Don’t blindly apply for jobs online and hope for a response. Take an active approach to your career planning and you will see more positive results. If you are not sure where to start or need to turn around an unproductive job search, I’m here to help you – I love this stuff! I know how to get through to the decision makers and have helped hundreds of people just like you advance their careers.
An inspirational career consultant, Trish McGrath has been helping people develop the tools, strategies and confidence to build satisfying careers since 2009. An experienced career transition coach, resume expert and job search strategist, she guides her clients through the job search process to make it less overwhelming and more successful. Contact Trish at (860) 658-6480 or firstname.lastname@example.org to see how she can help you build a more satisfying career.
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