If you submit 10, 20 or more job applications every week without response, you are not alone and it’s your job to figure out why.
Are you treating the job search as a numbers game, like telemarketing? If I just send more applications, sooner or later it is inevitable that I will rise to the top of the pile. Or do you believe those who say “nobody gets hired from online job postings”. If that was true, how long would employers continue to accept online submissions? Not very long.
Not every opening that is posted online is filled from online applicants but some are. If you aren’t among the winning pllicants, it may have something to do with how you are applying, but you may be perplexed as to what to change.
Do you understand the hiring process from the perspective of an employer that receives thousands of applications? Often its a junior staff member who reduces the pile to a manageable number. It’s easier than you think. Just discard applications that don’t mention the key words related to the required qualifications. Then calls are made to conduct an initial screening interview or to schedule an interview. So what if that prospective employer called the top 20 applicants but your phone didn’t ring? And what if that happened 50 times every week?
It would be helpful if they told you how close you came. You still would be unemployed, but there is a big difference between knowing you ranked 21st or 845th. But all you know is they didn’t call you.
Apparently the resumes and cover letters from other job applicants have convinced the prospective employer that their experience and skills satisfy the requirements of the position more closely than yours. That you already know.
Here’s the good news. That prospective employer knows that most resumes and cover letters do a very poor job of communicating the qualifications of the applicant and they are no happier with the situation than you are. If you are really well qualified for the position, they want you to convince them of that in your application. They are rooting for you, because an amazing resume from an excellent candidate makes their job easy.
How can you rank higher in the future? First you need to do some research to distinguish between 2 possible explanations for your low ranking. Hypothesis A is that the 20 applicants who did get an interview are much more qualified than you, in which case you need to upgrade your experience, accomplishments and credentials or forget about applying to jobs like this one. Hypothesis B is that you deserve to be in the top 20 but your application isn’t very persuasive. In that case, you need to improve your cover letter and resume. Most of the time that is easier but you have to be willing to do it.
Solve your own Job Search mystery. Do your own research!
How can you find out which hypothesis is true, A or B? Let’s take a look at A first. Here are a few suggestions, some of which are easy, while others are a little intimidating for an introvert.
- Compare the words you used in your resume and cover letter to those in the job postings. Use visual representations such as Wordle if that helps.
- Compare your application to examples of persuasive cover letters and resumes in books in the local library or bookstore. If you find it difficult to be objective, ask someone else to assist you with an honest critique. This is not the time to protect a fragile ego.
If you are confident that your application presents your qualifications as favorably as possible, it is time to check out Hypothesis B.
- Arrange an information interview with a hiring manager in your field. Ask for an honest appraisal of your application against a few actual job descriptions. Alternately, meet with an HR manager or a personnel recruiter in the same field.
- If you are still stumped, you may need to seek direct feedback from an actual prospective employer on how your application was ranked. If you are persistent and make it clear that you just want to learn how to improve, you may be able to find someone willing to help.
If all this seems like a lot of work or too far from your comfort zone, I certainly understand. Just remember that this work is excellent preparation for the job interview questions that await you in the next stage.
And believe that the prospective employer really wants to see an excellent resume and cover letter from you.