How to Maximize Your Job Search

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By Reneé Zung
March 03, 2020
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Gone are the days where you would have one resume that fit all and you would actually print and hand deliver them, have an interview or two, and be hired. In the digital age, with 65+ different applicant tracking systems and other bots answering calls or sending an auto-response email it is easy to get caught up sitting at your computer all day uploading your one resume and hitting the submit button. This might seem like the right job search approach; however, it quickly leads to frustration and very little response. If you do not submit online, how the heck are you supposed to land a job you might ask?

According to Glassdoor for Employers, on average, each job post receives 250+ resumes and only 4 to 6 applicants will get called for an interview, and only one will get the job. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, it takes an average of 5 ½ months to land a new role. The top 2% of applicants will actually land the role.

Increasing your odds of landing a job interview means you need to change your job search approach from reactive to proactive. A proactive search is not linear, that means you do not just find a job posting online, hit submit, and wait.

Proactive Plan
All job seekers need a strategy and a proactive job search plan to produce more results than the traditional apply online and hope your resume has all the keywords and you are in the top 2% of the 250+ applicants and will actually receive a call for an interview. A successful job search plan includes marketing, research, and networking.

First, you need two marketing elements: an “All Star” status LinkedIn profile and a formatted resume that is easy to read and can be tailored for each job application.

Next step is research, you need to know what size company you want to work for, the industry, how your skills match in-demand skills, any required certifications, which companies are looking for your skill set, and the job titles in job ads.

Finally, the last step crucial to your success is networking using contacts from your professional, community, and social circles, as well as your LinkedIn contacts.

Your job search plan is comprised of the following components:

  • Ideal Company
  • Ideal Job
  • Top 10 companies you want to work for
  • 25 companies that hire professionals like you
  • A list of your contacts including past managers, colleagues, friends, neighbors, and those in your community
  • 250+ connections on LinkedIn
  • List of local networking groups
  • List of alumni groups

Tailor Your Resume
Job search frustration with online application is the number one complaint of all job seekers. In the digital age, one resume does not fit all. Tailoring your resume for each job submission will put your resume in the hands of the internal recruiter and not stuck in the Applicant Tracking System (ATS). The key is to align your resume to the skills highlighted in the job description. This is important not only for the ATS system but also for the potential hiring manager.

An eye tracking study conducted by Ladders, Inc. shows recruiters look at resumes for 7 seconds. Your resume format is just as important as the words on your resume. Resumes need to have short compelling sentences with white space that include the key words from the job description, soft skills, predictive skills, technical skills, education match, and job title match.

There are several tools available to job seekers to help increase their keyword and skill match for each particular job application. The paid version of Jobscan allows you to upload as many versions of your resume you need to get to 80% match and shows a side by side comparison of your resume against the job ad. Jobscan also has a free version, however, it is limited to a few scans which most job seekers use for one job application. Another option is to take your own resume and the job ad and place them in free word cloud generators such as TagCrowd or WordSift. To better understand these options check out the Jobscan blog.

Networking
The proactive job search relies on networking online using your LinkedIn network and in person using your contacts. In simple terms. before you submit for a job online, use LinkedIn or your contacts to see if you are connected to someone at the company. Once you have identified a connection to the company, you can ask for a referral. Employee referrals are similar to the fast pass at Disney and may jump your application to the front of the line. Personal referrals are the golden ticket, this is when someone at your targeted company hand delivers your resume to HR or the hiring manager and it is read.

People Hire people.
Now that you are armed with a proactive job search plan and a killer resume you can tailor based on the opportunity, keep in mind that job searching is not a linear process. It is more like a roller coaster ride with ups, downs, twists, and turns. Stop yourself before you hit the submit button to apply online and take five minutes to see if you can connect with someone at that company for a referral. If not, then go ahead and apply, and then research using LinkedIn to see if you can find a recruiter at that company to follow-up on your application.

The goal of the proactive search is to connect with a person. People still hire people.

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