By Barbara Mitchell
Q: I keep hearing that it’s a candidate’s market and that organizations are dying for qualified applications. But I’m still having trouble even getting a phone interview. Maybe I’m doing something wrong?
A: It’s definitely a candidate’s market these days—there are many more opportunities available now than there were not long ago. But that’s not to say that employers are having trouble finding candidates with the right skill sets for open positions. Many qualified candidates are taking advantage of the hot job market to apply for new positions that offer opportunities for advancement.
If you aren’t hearing back from organizations where you’ve applied for a job, you probably do need to reevaluate your search process. Here are some things to do before you send out another resume:
Make sure you’re applying for jobs you’re qualified for. You don’t need to have a 100 percent match with the employer’s requirements, but be sure you’re not aiming too high or too far afield from your experience and skill set.
Review and polish up your LinkedIn profile. Do you list accomplishments and not just job duties in your work experience, current and past? Do you have a recent, professional-looking photo posted? Do you have four or more recommendations from current or past employers or colleagues? If you answered no to any of these questions, address those shortcomings immediately.
Applicant tracking systems and recruiters look for specific keywords that are associated with job requirements, and it’s important for your resume to show how your work experience matches those requirements.
Google your name and see what comes up. Hopefully, your LinkedIn profile shows up. If anything appears in the search results that you don’t want prospective employers to see, take it down if it’s content that you control, such as in your social media accounts.
Check your resume and online application for errors. The fastest way to ensure your resume ends up in the discard pile is to submit it with spelling and grammatical mistakes.
Ensure your resume focuses on your accomplishments. Some resumes read like job descriptions, and that’s not what gets the recruiter’s attention. Emphasize what you’ve accomplished in each position. It’s even better if you can quantify those achievements.
Evaluate whether you are addressing what the employer is looking for. Do you customize each resume based on what the job requires? The most important part of your resume is the top one-third of the first page. Applicant tracking systems and recruiters look for specific keywords that are associated with job requirements, and it’s important for your resume to show how your work experience matches those requirements.
Network to find opportunities. Are you getting your leads only from job boards? There is nothing wrong with pulling job leads off the internet, but your odds of getting an interview are much higher if you submit a resume through a networking contact. You will still need to apply using whatever process the organization requires, but your resume will be higher in the stack to be reviewed if it arrives with the recommendation of a current or former employee.
Take a hard look at how you are applying for jobs, and you may find the answer to why you’re not getting to the interview stage.
Barbara Mitchell is a human resources and management consultant and author of The Big Book of HR,The Essential Workplace Conflict Handbook and the latest book—The Conflict Resolution Phrase Book. Do you have a question you’d like her to answer in “Ask the Expert”? Send it to [email protected].