Not Getting Job Interviews? Here’s What to Do
When you’re job searching, it can feel like you’re sending out job applications into a big, bottomless void. That’s why one of the biggest goals that each and every job seeker has (apart from getting hired for a job, of course) is to get a callback for a job interview. But if you’re not getting job interviews and churning out job application after job application, here’s what you need to do.
Follow Up on Applications
By far, one of the best ways to snag a chance at a job interview is by following up. In your cover letter, you can politely write that you plan to follow up on your job application to see if the hiring manager has any questions. It’s perfectly acceptable to email the hiring manager a week or so after you’ve sent in your job application.
This is important for two reasons: first, it ensures that the hiring manager actually did receive your job application. If they receive your follow-up email, they may realize that they never got your job application to begin with. Secondly, and more importantly, following up shows your genuine interest in the job, which will make you stand out in the hiring manager’s mind.
Overhaul Your Documents
No one likes doing this step, but it might be safe to say that your documents aren’t working if you’re not getting interviews. Consider a complete overhaul before you apply to another job.
First, consider if you’re using the right format for your resume. Chronological, functional, and hybrid are the most common resume types. If you have any gaps in your work history, or are changing careers, look into using a functional or hybrid resume. For most other situations, a standard chronological resume will suffice, but be sure you’re keeping to no more than two pages.
Look at all your tasks and accomplishments listed on your resume and find ways to quantify what’ve done. Instead of saying that you improved marketing outcomes for your company’s website, use percentages and specific data to show what you’ve accomplished.
Lastly, use the keywords you find in a job description and add them to your resume for each job you apply to (more on this later when we talk about applicant tracking systems). If you’re applying for a proofreader job, but your previous job title was editor, you need to ensure the word “proofreader” is in your resume.
How can you improve your cover letter aside from customizing it for each role and adding in keywords from each job description?
Pay attention to the details: Are you finding the name of the hiring manager and addressing your letter to them, or are you using a generic greeting? Are you regurgitating your resume, or are you adding extra value? Start by telling them why you’re the best candidate for the job. Use an attention-grabbing intro sentence instead of what you’ve been previously using.
Do you have a website or online portfolio to easily share? Look into sites like Wix, About.me, WordPress, and even LinkedIn. If you already have a website, is it mobile-friendly? Are you keeping it updated? Are there any weak samples you should remove from your portfolio? Make sure your best work is on there so that you’re not turning off a potential employer.
Network to Find Employers
Sure, you have professional accounts on all the social media channels and are engaging online. But that’s not enough if you want to get your foot in the door at your dream company. Try doing a search to find people on LinkedIn who are in the same industry as you and find out who they’re working for. This will reveal to you potential employers in your area who are employing people in the same industry as you, doing the same work as you.
By having this info of local employers, you can reach out to them directly. Or, you can connect with those same people on LinkedIn and forge connections that can not only broaden your network, but hopefully help you get a job interview with one of these organizations.
Beat the Applicant Tracking System
Applicant tracking systems, also called an ATS, can be a huge roadblock to getting your application materials in front of a hiring manager. An applicant tracking system a software tool that companies use to automate their recruitment. An ATS will electronically scan resumes and cover letters, looking for specific keywords and relevant experience. Based on what the ATS finds, your application will either be accepted or rejected.
“To increase your chances to beat the applicant tracking system, be sure you read the job description thoroughly, paying careful attention to keywords throughout so you can highlight the relevant skills you have using the exact verbiage from the posting,” offers FlexJobs Career Coach Toni Frana.
Look for keywords that are repeated often as a starting point. Having a “Skills” section on your resume can be a great way to get those keywords in your resume in a natural way.
Also, watch your resume format. A simple, text-based resume will have the best chance of being read and parsed correctly by an ATS. Tables or graphics may not be recognized by an ATS, potentially leaving out valuable information in its assessment of your skills.
As a benefit to being a FlexJobs member, we partner with Jobscan, a site dedicated to helping job seekers make sure their resumes are optimized for tracking systems.
Focus on Quality, Not Quantity
When you really need a job, it can be easy to apply for a lot of jobs. If this has been your approach, though, it could be why you’re not getting interviews. Taking your time to apply to three jobs that you’re very well qualified for will do you better than applying to 10 jobs that you’re semi-qualified or even overqualified for.
Be honest with yourself and don’t apply for an entry-level role if you’re mid-career. Likewise, don’t apply to an executive-level role if you only have a few years’ experience. A hiring manager, or ATS, may quickly dismiss your application for being over- or under-qualified, making your effort to apply at all a waste of time.
Are you paying attention to when a job is posted? It’s important to apply as soon as you can. Within the first week or two of the posting date is ideal. A report from Brazen found that 43% of job openings are filled during the first 30 days. The sooner you send in your application, the better your chances of being considered for the job.
If you’re applying past that month mark, it’s possible the reason you’re not getting interviews is that the job has been filled, or they already have more than enough qualified candidates.
Use the Right Job Boards
Using big job boards can provide some great leads. But they can also be overwhelming, filled with a lot of shady postings and poorly matched jobs to your keyword search. Depending on the type of job you’re looking for (freelance vs. employee or remote vs. in-office, for example) and the industry you’re in, you may be better off using small, niche job boards.
Certain industries may have job boards dedicated to that particular career area. If you’re a freelancer, some sites are better than others. Using a smaller, more focused job search service can provide you better quality job listings and prevent you from applying for jobs that aren’t actually open or aren’t legitimate.
FlexJobs is one such site that offers job seekers a customized and safe job search experience. We focus on flexible jobs (freelance, remote, part-time, and flexible schedule), and we have jobs listed in 50 different career areas that are all vetted and verified.
Follow Application Instructions
If you’re not getting interviews, are you sure you’re following application instructions? Some companies weed out candidates by including specific steps to follow when applying. Not following those instructions can send the message that you’re not detail-oriented and take you out of the running.
Some applications may want you to include a certain word in your email subject line, mention your salary requirements, or submit work samples. Don’t leave out a single thing if the employer is requesting something specific.
“One important item to note: the job location. Even if it is a 100% remote position, most remote jobs do require a location. Ensure you meet the location requirements before submitting your application as there is a high likelihood that if you do not, your application will be rejected by the ATS,” says Frana.
Take a Break
Burnout is a real thing, and not getting job interviews can add anxiety. And nothing can impact your quality of application materials than feeling like you’re running an uphill battle.
Taking a break in your job search could be what you need to refresh yourself. Consider taking some time, whether it’s a few days or a few weeks, to completely turn off your search. Breathe and fill your extra time with relaxation or doing something you enjoy. You’re more likely to return to your job search feeling renewed.
Meet with a Career Coach
Having a personalized coaching session with somebody who is trained to help job seekers can provide great benefits. A career coach can review your resume and cover letter and strategize ways for you to improve your tactics.
Photo Credit: bigstockphoto.com
This is a version of an article that was originally published on March 26, 2015.
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Jennifer Parris, FlexJobs Career Writer
Jennifer comes from corporate America… and a four-hour daily commute! Now, as a Career Writer for FlexJobs , she commutes to the corner office (in her house, that is) in under 60 seconds! Says Jennifer: “I’ve always been a writer,…Read More >
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