You’ve submitted application after application, and it seems like no matter how many times you hit “Submit,” no one is calling you in for a job interview.
Is it really just that the job market is that hard nowadays? While it’s definitely competitive out there, it’s also important to think about how you’re going about your job search. Are each of your job applications getting the attention of hiring managers and potential employers? Are you standing out from the crowd, and are you always putting your best foot forward?
If you’re not sure, here are 4 common reasons why you might not be getting past the first round and onto job interviews as well as how to fix each problem you may be having.
1. You Didn’t Have a Plan Before Filling Out Your Job Applications
The second you start looking for a full-time job, it’s easy to submit 1,000 applications to any company that has a position that sounds remotely interesting. While this might sound like a full-proof plan to get hired (hey, you’re putting yourself out there, right?), this strategy backfires for 2 major reasons:
- The old saying goes that you want quality over quantity, and it’s no different during the job search. You should put your all into each application, not into filling out as many applications as possible.
- If you’re filling out job apps without really looking at them, chances are the majority of jobs you’re applying for aren’t even a good fit. You might say that you’ll take “any job” at this point, but do you really want to be stuck in a position you don’t like or that doesn’t fit your overall career objectives?
Before you start applying to jobs left and right, sit down and think about these 3 things to create your own job application plan:
- Even if you don’t know the industry you want to go into, what skills do you bring to the table? What skills do you still want to learn? Which positions give you the opportunity to show off what you know while also letting you gain more knowledge?
- How will you look for roles that fit this criteria? When you look at jobs boards, how will you filter the results to make sure you’re only looking at listings you’re interested in? Who from your network can you contact for help?
- How many quality job applications can you fill out in a single day? You should feel confident in every single one you submit.
Once you answer these basic questions, consider making a spreadsheet for every job application you plan to fill out and then complete and submit. It can look something like this:
You can also download this spreadsheet in Google Spreadsheets HERE.
And if you’re using WayUp, good news: You can skip this step because you’ll have an entire page on your dashboard (appropriately titled “My Applications” in the upper right-hand corner) dedicated to helping you keep track of the application process.
2. You Didn’t Do Your Research Before Starting Job Applications
Think you should start researching when you get a job interview and not before? Think again.
Before you start any job application, you need to make sure you understand everything about a company so you can accurately illustrate that you know what that organization is about and how you can help by being hired.
And “research” doesn’t just mean knowing the company name. It means making sure you know every major player in the organization, understanding the company’s mission and values and knowing how you can make that company even better.
In addition to looking at a company website, here’s what you should be researching before starting your application:
- The entire company website
- Information on the company’s products and/or services
- Background on the company’s founder(s), executive team, board members and investors (if applicable)
- Any information on the company’s founding
- Press about the company and its latest updates
- Any stories or testimonials from past or present employees? Any patterns in what they say the company cares about?
- The company’s social media profiles
And if you’re using WayUp, we make lots of this information easily accessible, so you can be the most informed applicant in the pile.
3. You Didn’t Customize Each Application
Hiring managers can tell when you submit generic resume, cover letter and other application materials instead of spending the extra time customizing each one. Not only does it make you an unmemorable applicant, but it also makes hiring managers and potential employers think you don’t really care enough about that position or company..
Not customizing each application also leaves room for error. You won’t be getting the job anytime soon if you write “Dear Apple…” when you meant to write “Dear Google…” Talk about awkward.
What are some easy ways to customize each application? Take a couple of these pointers:
- Make sure your resume specifically references what the job listing asks for. For example, does the job call for someone with at least a year of social media experience? Highlight your multiple years of experience running extracurricular social media accounts in college. Make it easy for a hiring manager looking at dozens (if not hundreds) of resumes to select yours and email you about an interview.
- Have your cover letter talk about that particular company’s culture. Show an understanding of what that company cares about and what you can bring should you be hired for that position.
- If a company requests other materials (for instance, letters or recommendation or writing samples), pay attention to the instructions. For instance, did the employer put any restrictions on how long your materials should be?
4. You Didn’t Proofread Everything Before Pressing “Submit”
No amount of customizing your resume, cover letter and application will matter if a hiring manager takes one look at any of your materials and sees that you spelled the name of the company “Bgi Corprattion Inc” instead of “Big Corporation Inc.”
When in doubt, proofread, proofread and proofread some more.
And if you want to quadruple-check that you’ve proofread everything to the max, here are 2 more strategies you can use:
- Re-read all of your materials backwards. Start at the end of the page and work your way upwards sentence by sentence. It causes your brain to pick up on things you wouldn’t have seen if you were reading normally from top to bottom.
- Have at least one other person read your application materials for spelling, grammatical, usage and flow errors. Is there anything that doesn’t make sense? Someone else will be able to give you an honest answer.
By following these steps and taking that extra time on each application, there’s no way any hiring manager will be able to deny moving you to the next round. Say hello to that job interview.