You’ve got a degree. You’ve got skills and experience. Maybe you’ve even made major accomplishments in your field.
But are you having difficulty finding a job? Maybe you are worried that your resume alone isn’t showcasing your abilities – especially if you are submitting applications but not receiving any callbacks.
Don’t worry – there are some simple and effective things you can do today to impress potential employers tomorrow. Below, we will discuss getting your resume past the bots, leveraging your network and resume references, and acing your in-person interview.
According to a recent CNET report, the old “rules” of printing your resume on fancy paper and dressing well for your interview are no longer enough. Today, you need to beat the bots – and to do that, you need to understand the rules of the game.
Many companies now use AI-powered recruiting software. These “resume robots” are often called Applicant Tracking Systems, or ATS.
A primary function of the ATS is to “weed out” less-qualified candidates. They do this by matching pre-programmed keywords to the text in your resume.
In fact, 99 percent of Fortune 500 companies (and many smaller ones) utilize this type of software. And they are looking for a 70 to 80 percent keyword match. How can you achieve this?
Revise your resume to match the keywords in the job description for each position you apply for.
Keywords are not limited to skills. They may come in the form of educational requirements, years of experience, or specific experiences, like the use of a certain computer application or tool.
References can be a great way of standing out from the crowd. There are several methods you can use to leverage your professional network.
Before applying to jobs, reach out to two to five of your contacts who know you well. Ideally, they have worked closely with you, recently, and perhaps in a position of oversight.
First, ask them if they would be willing to serve as a reference. In this way, they can have you in mind and will not be caught off guard if your potential employer reaches out to them. You can also supply any helpful information at this time.
Keep a list of your references handy for when employers ask for them. Include the name of your contact, their company and position title, and contact information such as a phone number, email address, and mailing address.
Likely, you keep up with many of your contacts on the professional network LinkedIn. You can ask your first-degree connections to endorse the skills you have listed on your LinkedIn profile. Endorsements help online recruiters recognize that your listed skills are valid since someone else is vouching for you.
You can ask for longer, more personalized documents – letters of recommendation. You may be able to submit these along with your application packet for some positions.
Proper job interview manners are important because you are making a first and lasting impression. Since your attire is the first thing the interviewer will see, you want to dress to impress.
According to Inc. magazine, “The ultimate goal of your work attire is to give yourself credibility.” And that goes for what you wear to the interview, too.
It’s been said that you should dress for the job you want to have. Be observant and find out what the expected attire is before your interview. When in doubt, always dress up, not down – think button-down shirts, slacks, and blazers. These items represent standard professional attire for people of every gender.
Don’t forget to smile, as this denotes both friendliness and confidence. If you’re not feeling confident, rehearse your answers to common interview questions in advance. Send a short thank-you email when the interview is over.
There are simple strategies you can use to impress your potential employers. These include:
- Precisely matching your resume keywords to those in the job description so your resume passes inspection by the ATS and is passed on to human hands.
- Asking your network for references and endorsements on LinkedIn. Don’t be shy about using references whose names or companies are well-known in your community or industry.
- Preparing for your interview by dressing for the job you want to have, thinking about your responses to common questions in advance, smiling, and following up with a thank-you.
When you put these strategies to work, you (and your future employer) will notice how your skills shine.