Are you applying for roles but never hear back? Less than 1% of candidates that apply to job boards get a reply other than the standard “Thanks for applying…” or “Sorry but…” email. As someone who has hired 100’s of professionals, I can tell you from experience that employers are bombarded with applications these days. It’s administratively costly to personalize a response to anyone except for the candidates they feel are qualified for an interview.
Are you concerned about your “experience” is a problem (i.e., age)? First, I don’t think most employers are committing age discrimination. There are a number of factors in play with the big one being that with technology and changing roles even “experienced” or lead roles only require 10 years of experience. That puts professionals in their early 30’s in play for many roles. Adding to the number of potential candidates available.
Not sure how to stand out? You understand that despite our government and media telling us how great the job market is (and in some ways it is), there are a ton of people applying for good jobs. How do you get the employers attention?
Before I share some insights, I do want you to know first that your challenges are NOT YOUR FAULT. You just haven’t found the tools and support you need to compete differently. The process is broken and everyone is doing it wrong which leaves a clear opportunity for those of us that apply different approaches.
1. STOP applying for every job you think is a close fit.
One of the reasons our job search process is broken is that the process of applying is so easy. Being un or underemployed can lead to desperation for many resulting in clicking “Apply” as much as possible. You tell yourself…”Something has to work?” Aggressive applying not only waste your time but also could burn your bridges because if you are applying to multiple roles at the same employer, you could be tagged and blacklisted by HR and Recruiters. Instead, invest your time into creating a Plan and focus your efforts.
2. Define a Job Search Plan
For those Executive and Senior Professionals who have experience crafting business plans, leading business strategy, and executing it – apply those skills to this challenge. If you have been out of the job market for years, then do the research to learn how it’s changed…and boy has it. This Blog gives some ideas and for a simple outline of the process use this:
- Discovery – get the clarity and focus you need for the roles you either need or want.
- Branding – Your resume, LinkedIn Profile, cover letters, networking are all tools that convey your Brand.
- Job Search Techniques – This blog address one technique – using job boards. 30% of jobs are posted. 70% are not – the hidden job market – especially for leadership and executive roles. Stay tuned or reach out for more on that approach.
- Interviewing – you worked so hard to get to this point…are you prepared? Are you able to “Close” the deal? Today’s employers are leveraging multiple tools – phone, video, panel interviews, behavior interviewing, etc. beware of how to excel at these methods. Find some help doing a mock interview where you can get honest feedback.
- Mentoring – get help. One word of caution – don’t just rely on friends or family – you need someone that not only understand the job market and search process but someone that will tell you like it is.
3. Put your HR hat on and do your own skills and qualifications checklist
One of my basic tips is to put yourself in the shoes of the employer. Get clear on what they want. What’s cool is that most employers provide a reasonably good job description – bullet points with critical skills, qualifications, duties. Treat that as a checklist and objectively walk through each and rate yourself. If you can comfortability say you are 80% qualified…stop. Ideally, you’ll be closer to 90%+. Forget those jobs boards that try to tell you how skilled you are..they are just selling engagement…not matches.
4. Employers hire Experts – brand yourself as one
Hiring managers need team members to help them solve problems. It’s that simple. Your resume, LinkedIn Profile, Cover letters, and networking are all tools to showcase your brand. While your Resume can be more to the point of skills, qualifications, and accomplishments, use these other tools also to communicate your WHY, your MISSION, your VALUES. Many of you may have had a part of helping your employer define and express theirs…do it for yourself. Be a “Business of One” to help get your message and value proposition out there.
5. Accomplishments – Accomplishments – Accomplishments
Focus on the pains you solve, how you solve them and the results you have delivered. By the way, this is a basic formula for writing your Accomplishments. PAR = Pain, Action and Result. Wherever possible use numbers to quantify, give scope and scale to your accomplishments. That can be challenging but SO POWERFUL. Highlight your best accomplishments at the top of your Resume, LinkedIn Profile and while networking. And yes, be comfortable “professionally” bragging about yourself.
6. Use a Resume that is easy to scan and read
First off, I believe that most professionals and ALL executives should own the creation and editing of their own resume. It’s a skill you need to have. That’s not a criticism of writers. Excellent grammar, storytelling, formatting, etc. are essential. But realize resume writers serve candidates…not employers. Another tip, if anyone says they can write a resume and guarantee it will get through an ATS (Application tracking system)… then run. No one can guarantee that. Some basic tips for improving the scanning of your resume are to keep it simple, one font, no italics, font size above 11 points, single column, no graphics. If you have more than 10 years of expereince, two pages are OK. The biggest tip is writing it to be quickly scanned and read. Recruiters take 6 seconds to scan a resume and determine if it’s worth reading. Make sure they can tell what job you want, your critical skills and qualifications, and can quickly scan your work experience…in 6 seconds. Draw them in with accomplishments.
7. Connect with Hiring Managers in one of two ways and ask for an interview
- Research the company and hiring managers and discover compelling – emotional connections
Part of your research into where to apply should include identifying why you are a good fit for the company. What connection you have with them. If you are just showing up to do a job…well, good luck. Do you believe in their mission, their products, their leaders, what? Do you have a connection with the Hiring Manager – research their public social media channels, to see what they talk about or follow…look for a connection. Use this information to draft a letter…a compelling reason you would like to work with him/her/the company. Use some emotion. When you write that letter, write it conversationally – like you are in front of them talking. Be yourself. Get away from that standard dry cover letter and focus on why you want to work at that company.
- Focus on a couple of key accomplishments – pains that you have solved, how you solved it and the result
Another approach is to focus on one or two key accomplishments of yours that you feel will compel the hiring manager to take action…such as ask HR to pull your resume. Hiring Managers, good ones, want to build a team of problem solvers, bring value. Some refer to this as a Pain letter (google this for ideas).
8. Invest in Yourself – Warning – It Takes Grit and a Growth Mindset so heed this Step
Don’t underestimate the benefits of wellness and mindset to your career and your search. A job search can be stressful. Take a portion of your time, an hour a day can be huge. But even if you only have 5 minutes to invest it will make a big difference. Meditation, exercise, yoga, journaling are among some of the best mindfulness practices. Building your Grit, your determination and strength to be your best YOU comes across in all areas of your search.
About David McKnight and NotionPath.
David has spent 30 years as a CEO, COO, and CFO and the last several years focusing on building teams, recurring and Career Mentoring. David experienced an 18-month gap search for a positing himself 7 years ago and since then has been on a mission to help professionals and executive better understand the challenge of a job search and bring tools and solutions ultimately to serve both his clients and the employers who NEED top talent. NotionPath was formed to serve Employers with Recruiting needs, Professionals and Executive that are seeking a new career position and/or establishing them as a Business of One – a solopreneur.
If you would value a free consultation to get your search process jump-started please visit this site and schedule your appointment —> www.notionpath.com/GETHIRED
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