The job hunt is not easy: trust me. It has evolved and changed since you took that CAP class in high school. There are so many different considerations and over the last six months, we have seen the job market shift from an employee’s game to an employer’s. Jobs that pre-COVID would get maybe a hundred applicants are now getting hundreds of applicants.
Please don’t let this information scare you, instead see it as a challenge to always put your best foot forward with each new application. I hope this letter will remind you that you can do hard things and that there will be a job for you.
I see thousands of resumes a month, and I can’t even count how many I’ve read this year (so far). Here is my advice for making your application stand out:
1. Ask Questions
From your friends, from Google, from the recruiter. Make them relevant and insightful (something you didn’t learn from the job description.)
2. Apply Early
Many companies I work for practice rolling recruitment, which means they are screening and interviewing potential successful candidates from the moment the role is posted. To stand out, you want to be among the first applicants.
3. Stand Out
Do not use the Indeed template. Just don’t. Put in the effort. I know its hard when you are writing 50 applications a week and not getting responses. Still, as a recruiter I can see at a glance, the difference between stock content and original, tailored to the posting applications. When I see a resume and application that shows minimum effort, it makes me doubt that you will always put your best work forward for my client.
4. Tell the Truth
There is an alarming statistic: close to 75% of resumes contain misleading or untruthful information. Aside from potentially being grounds for dismissal, this sets your employment relationship up for failure.
If you were let go from your last job, own it by telling me, AND following up with what you’ve learned from the experience and how you’ve changed because of it. Taking personal responsibility for growth opportunities is admirable, and there isn’t a person out there who hasn’t made mistakes or missteps.
I have seen otherwise suitable applicants get sidelined because they made silly spelling or grammatical errors; have someone proofread your resume. Enough said.
6. Know Your Audience
I commonly tell folks is to use the tools you have available such as LinkedIn, Google, Glassdoor etc. to learn about the company you want to work for. I recently sat through a phone screen where the candidate was telling me information about my client that I didn’t know, and guess what? We made them a job offer.
Prepare for the phone screen with the recruiter, prepare for the second phone screen with the project lead, prepare for the interview, prepare for the skills test. Show up for each step in the best way you can. Give 100%. Rest assured, if you are not prepared, someone else is, and who do you think will get hired?
8. Keep an Ace up Your Sleeve
Your resume and qualifications get you through the door, but when I ask you to tell me about your work or personal projects or what inspires you, I want to learn something new about you that is not on your resume.
9. Check Your References
The number of times I have had a stellar candidate forward me sub-par or even downright bad references is astounding. Always know what your reference is going to tell me and choose only your strongest advocates.
10. Follow Up
Send a note to thank your recruiter and ask for feedback on how you can improve. Even if you don’t get the position, follow up. We could potentially be on the other end of your next application, and following up shows that you are willing to hear hard feedback and care enough to improve. Those qualities will help you stand out.
11. Try Again
Every applicant pool is different. You don’t know who you are up against or what the other competitors brought to the table. This doesn’t lessen your application at all – you could be the top performer from your last role, but you might be up against another 10 top performers for this new one. Don’t give up and refer to point #10.
My last tip is to take care of yourself. This process is hard. It is challenging to show up and be yourself and get turned down, especially if it happens several times in a row. However, trust that you will succeed and that each application process takes you one step closer to the right job for you. As Yoda would say, do or do not do, there is no try. Keep doing, and it will happen.
HR Consultant | Reimagine Work
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As an associate at Reimagine Work, Sharde believes in building stronger communities by bringing people together. Her work in People Operations has followed naturally from the belief, working with people is about building stronger communities. Being in HR is about building authentic connections and clearly defining the rules of engagement. Sharde loves finding creative solutions to complex problems and building vibrant workplaces through culture, training tools, strong people practices and most importantly, recruitment - successful teams start with the right people. Her passion stems from supporting leaders and organizations in developing exceptional people practices and reimagining what work can look like.