When you apply for jobs, in your haste to show what you want the employer to know about you, you may be ignoring a very important part of the job-search equation: the focus on what the employer needs. If you consider the hiring manager's perspective and act accordingly, you'll have a much better chance of receiving an offer.
Raj Sheth, CEO of Recruiterbox, a company that provides small businesses with an applicant tracking and résumé management tool based in the cloud, suggests you consider the following advice when applying for jobs:
1. Apply with intention. Successful job candidates use their materials to show how their skills are well matched to the target company's needs. Employers and recruiters appreciate candidates who cut to the chase and make a clear case for their candidacy. When you evaluate a job, highlight the parts of the description that pertain to you. If the majority of the job is not highlighted, don't apply for that job.
Sheth says: "Many candidates eager to land a job apply to some positions they are not well qualified to do. For example, a job posting requiring at least five years of experience remains out of reach for an entry-level job hunter." Save yourself time by focusing on positions that are a very strong fit. Don't assume the employer is going to give you credit for anything you don't outline in your résumé and application materials. If the job requires you to lead teams and demonstrate other relevant results, feature those accomplishments and skills prominently on your résumé. If you don't, no one will know what you have to offer.
Be clear, succinct and direct when you indicate how and why you are well qualified for the job. Remember, in the initial stage, your résumé will likely be read by a computer applicant tracking system. In the next stage, it will probably go to a human reader. Your job is to appeal to both audiences and to be able to back up everything you say when you get to the interview stage.
2. Engage with purpose. Communicate effectively with the company throughout the process. Sheth says: "Companies always fear the possibility of choosing the wrong person, so helping them ease their fear by responding to outreach or promptly getting back to them can show them you care and communicate well." He adds that this is not the time to play "hard to get."
Don't expect to remain on a company's short list if you don't respond in a timely way. Also, be careful with your written responses. Even if you are replying from your mobile device, grammar and punctuation are still important and will be evaluated. If you can't send a grammatically correct email from your cell phone, you could very well lose the opportunity to interview for the job.
3. Evaluate as you are evaluated. Note how the company treats you and communicates with you in the engagement stage. If your first interview is cancelled at the last minute, and your interviewer calls you an hour late for the rescheduled meeting, assume you'll be dealing with a lot of miscommunication should you join this company. Never forget that the pre-hire process is a two-way street: You evaluate the organization at the same time hiring managers evaluate your credentials.
4. Do not delay. Demonstrate your ability to be efficient and effective. Sheth says: "Always aim to help move and improve the process in any way possible. Both you and the hiring authority want to get through the process as quickly and smoothly as possible." However, don't cut corners to reach the finish line. He explains: "Shortcuts often wind up doing more damage than good."
Miriam Salpeter, owner of Keppie Careers, is often quoted in major media outlets for her job search and social media expertise. Author of three books and a sought-after speaker and coach, she leverages her extensive background and successes to teach job seekers and entrepreneurs how to easily use social media marketing to accomplish their career and business goals. Salpeter also provides strategic advice and support regarding interviewing, résumé writing and personal branding.
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