Tuesday, October 24, 2017

Three Reasons You Never Heard Back After Applying for a Job

You’re at your wit’s end: you’ve submitted dozens, maybe even hundreds, of resumes. Hours of your life are gone, and you have nothing to show for it but a slew of emails reading, “Thank you for your submission. If you fit our criteria, you will be contacted for an interview.” You find yourself checking your phone every few minutes just to make sure it’s still on.

In your heart you know you’re a great candidate. So why aren’t you hearing back?

Here are the top three reasons you never heard back from a job application:

1. You swiped right

Job applications should be about quality, not quantity. If “quick apply” buttons seem too good to be true, it’s because they are. Job searching is not like Tinder (yet) – and employers want to see that you put time, effort and thought into your application. If you are clicking submit just moments after a job posting comes your way, you are likely not spending enough time customizing your documents.

2. You expected the hiring manager to have an imagination

They’re smart people. They can deduce why you’d be a great fit based on your past experiences, right? Maybe, but here’s the better question: do they have the time? Hiring managers receive many applications for each open job, and most don’t have time to read every word in every resume. To compensate, they often use Applicant Tracking Systems to filter resumes using target keywords (hint: words from the job description), so they might not even see resumes that don’t include those keywords. On average, resumes are reviewed for 6.5 seconds – certainly not long enough for a hiring manager to imagine why your experience as a retail supervisor prepared you to excel in the IT field! Be explicit in explaining why your previous experience is relevant to your target position.

3. You phoned in your cover letter

Perhaps you didn’t customize your resume for the job – that’s what the cover letter is for, right? The truth is, most job seekers have no idea what the purpose or ideal content of a cover letter is. Those job seekers submit generic business letters repeating their resumes, or worse, saying nothing at all. In turn, hiring managers tire of uninspired, copy-and-pasted text. So they don’t read them – in fact, only 32 percent of cover letters are ever read!

Why even submit one then? Besides demonstrating that you can follow directions, crafting a cover letter can help you connect the dots between your target position and your unique set of skills, experiences and attributes. Your cover letter should be an example of your critical thinking skills as well as your ability to write a clear, cohesive statement. This sounds like a lot of work, but think of it this way: by building on the job description, you show you’re willing to do the work that will benefit that company. How will you be able to positively affect the organization? Spoiler alert: this is what they’re going to ask you in the interview!

In summary – take your time. Examine how you fit into the role you want and craft a convincing argument for yourself in your application, resume, cover letter and, eventually, your interview. This seems like an awful lot of work, I know. The legwork can be somewhat laborious, but just like any other activity, you will build your muscle and get good at the process – just in time for you to receive the job offer of your dreams!

Need help with a specific resume, cover letter or interview question? Come see me at the Career Development Services office!