If you’re looking for a new job and not receiving good responses from the online applications you’ve sent, you need to learn some job application tips to approach the employer in an attractive way. Waking up with an empty inbox after emailing hundreds of resumes can be frustrating and sad, which can further de-motivate you in your job searching process. It may be helpful to know that you can receive good responses by making minor changes in your online job search strategy. Here is some advice for job seekers you need to know.
- An online job ad receives about 250-300 job applications on average with top brands like Google receiving nearly 3,000,000 applications yearly. From these 250-300 applications, about 2% of applicants are invited for interviews and out of them, about 0.2% get hired.
- A majority of Fortune 500 companies use Applicant Tracking Systems (ATS) to simplify their candidate shortlisting process which often disqualifies about 75% of applications before they reach human eyes, mostly for irrelevant reasons like the way your job application is formatted.
- One study found that about 50% of jobs are filled internally before even making it to the public eye. Some of these jobs are posted online only to fulfill legal requirements as well as formalities, but an external candidate has very little chance to get into it.
- According to the Career Pivot, referrals play an important role in getting an interview whereas, for non-referrals, that drops to just 3%. In fact, Jobvite shares that about 40% of hires come from the referral, which is only 7% of applicants.
- Data reported by the Career Sherpa showed more than 60% of job seekers recommended by the current employees were hired. That number increased to more than 90% if the referral came from a director-level employee or above.
- About 70% of jobs are never posted, the only way to learn about them is through a connection or reference. it is clear that networking has a distinct advantage over online applications. However, networking isn’t a speedy process. Building relationships takes much time if you’re in a dire situation, you may feel this isn’t a good option but if you already have a network it may be helpful.
So, your best way may be a combined approach – spend time growing your network while also strategically applying to open roles that you find posted on the internet. Here’s a step-by-step guide to succeeding in your online job searching.
- Update your LinkedIn profile: Whether you’re building new connections or conducting an online search, your LinkedIn profile will be one of the first destinations most people make to get to know you. Ensure you have a professional photograph, well written “About” section that connects your strengths to the outcomes you provide and brand alignment with your target career goal. This will not only clearly communicate to others what value you provide to the marketplace but also may help recruiters and employers looking to hire to find you! Bonus step: While you’re at it, clean up your social media, removing all questionable content that may cause an employer to think twice about hiring you.
- Start building your LinkedIn connections: One of the most overlooked advantages of building a robust list of first-level contacts on LinkedIn is how this exponentially increases your second level connections. It’s often the 2nd level contacts who lead to getting job opportunities. Scroll through your text messages or emails to find more people you may not yet have connected with on LinkedIn. Consider dormant contacts – former colleagues, old neighbors, old college friends, etc. you are not in touch with over the years – and send a personalized message asking them to re-connect. Don’t ignore people you see a few times on a regular basis like your gym trainer, accountant, or legal advisor. You can’t imagine who may be in someone’s network. Bonus step: Find and reach out to the recruiters who work for companies on your target list, with a brief personalized message or mail of what you value about their organization.
- Make your target company list: Even if you’re applying to roles online, you don’t want to only be reactive to what comes in your search. It’s a good practice to be proactive by creating a list of companies you’re interested in and start learning about their market updates, searching your contacts (1st and 2nd level) for whom you may know (or wish to meet), and watching their progress to anticipate hiring needs. Follow your desired companies on social media sites like Twitter and femenest and create Google alerts to stay updated without wasting your precious time.
- Follow up: Taking a one and done approach to applying to jobs online will mean a lot of waiting and slow progress. Identify the recent roles you’ve applied to and start searching for your 1st and 2nd level contacts for connections. Then, reach out to ask for advice or insight on how you can make your application more appealing. Also, don’t hesitate to send a brief, diplomatic message to the recruiter (or hiring manager if you can get that information on LinkedIn, which you often can), to let them know you’ve applied for the job and looking for the opportunity to share more about your background with them. This may add interest for them to review your LinkedIn profile which has now a fantastic representation of the value you offer to their industry. In the online hiring process, you need every advantage, so don’t be a passive bystander. Bonus step: If you find a connection willing to shepherd your application directly to the hiring manager or recruiters, ask. There may even be an employee referral bonus in it for them if you get hired by their company.
- Write for the machine: Obviously you may be tempted to use unique formatting to make your resume stand out, the online application isn’t the place to show your skill with attractive fonts and fancy job application templates. Since most companies use Application Tracking Systems (ATS), without a direct referral you’ll be getting the benefits of this technology. There are many different ATS platforms with some of the more popular being Taleo, iCIMS, Jobvite, and Workday. Be conscious of the file type needed (e.g., if they ask for a .pdf, don’t submit a .word doc), and don’t forget to use keywords from the job description. Bonus step: Confirm your resume was received. Although having an internal employee shepherd it to the hiring manager is best, emailing the recruiter (LinkedIn is also acceptable, although it’s not advisable an actual invite at this early stage) to politely verify receipt is completely acceptable and may be the difference between getting the interview or avoiding an autogenerated rejection.
- Add a compelling cover letter: You may have seen multiple reviews on this step. A popular data point circulating is about 7% of cover letters are read but remember that’s out of the total 25% that make it through the ATS. Plus, I’ll let you in on a secret your cover letter will only get noticed if your resume passes muster, so this is another reason the statistic may be so low. Once it’s determined by recruiters that you have the skills to move to the next round, a recruiter will want to know a bit more about why you’re looking. Now the cover letter serves this purpose, and a tailored one will increase your luck of getting an interview invitation. Bonus step: Skip the generic cover letter, this may look poorly to the recruiters. If you’re applying to so many roles you don’t have time to tailor the cover letter, then it may be wise to re-evaluate the way you are approaching. You may be throwing spaghetti at the wall just to see what sticks there and this is obviously (and disliked) strategy to the recruiters and a waste of your precious time.
- Have a nice conversation with the people you know: While building new connections takes time, you already have a group of family, friends, and others in the community who already love and trust you. And, they’d likely be glad to support you succeed in your career. Be specific about what you’re looking for, including company list or people in their network you’d like to be introduced to. The people closest to you are likely to ask about your search, so don’t change the subject or shy away from these discussions. Actively be prepared for this question with an ask. While your friends and relatives don’t have jobs falling out of their pockets, they do have connections you don’t know. Bonus step: Compile a personal board of directors to guide and assist with your search. Perhaps you have 5 – 6 friends or family members who may be helpful and able to be objective. They can help you build an attractive resume, partner with you on mock interviews, and keep an eye out for upcoming opportunities. The average tenure in a role is about 4 years, so you can support them back when it’s their turn to make a pivot.
- Utilize your time wisely: You may have heard, “finding a new job is a full-time job” and that is pretty true. Since we all have a limited amount of time and energy, use your resources wisely by spending more time building your networks and relationships than applying online. Not only will you increase your chances to find the online jobs you apply for when you’re able to begin to find referrals, but you’ll open up your options to opportunities that may never make it to the internet if you have no connections. Bonus step: Dedicate some of your time to assist others, whether in their job search or with other challenges. Being generous is one of the best ways to build relationships.
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