Another week has passed and still no job interviews.
“What am I doing wrong?” you may ask yourself.
I feel you. I've been there too — at the rock bottom of a job search. Submitting applications on a daily basis and hopelessly waiting for a response. It can feel like there's no light at the end of this job-hunting tunnel.
Is it just bad luck? Probably not. Perhaps, like many others (including myself), you’ve been making a couple of simple mistakes all along.
Here are the five mistakes I had to correct during my job search before I could finally get hired.
1. I didn't take ATS into account
When applying for a position in a large company, you'll be competing with hundreds of applicants.
That's why many companies use applicant tracking systems (ATS) to make the hiring process more efficient. After all, who would like to read hundreds of resumes per day?
Anyway, how does it work? Each candidate fills out an online application and an ATS evaluates it based on keywords and phrases. In the end, only the very best resumes get to the hiring manager.
The question is, how to get your application past the robots, straight into the hands of your hiring manager?
Keep it simple
- ATS will reject most resumes with illegible formatting. Avoid using exotic fonts and don't overload your resume with logos, pictures, charts, and unnecessary sections.
Avoid irrelevant keywords
- Make every word on the resume count. ATSs want to see if your application matches the job description. For example, instead of listing ambiguous skills, name a particular software you have experience with.
Skip the career objective
- ATS don't have much understanding for motivational paragraphs filled with fluff. Instead, use this section to bullet point your key achievements, skills, and experiences.
No spelling or grammar mistakes allowed
- Fact: Robots show no mercy. If an ATS detects too many inconsistencies, it will dismiss your application immediately.
Extra tip: If possible, apply for a job directly through the company's career page or use LinkedIn to network with their hiring manager.
2. My resume didn't sell me well
Often the problem isn't your lack of experience, but how you’re able to sell yourself. Or better said — unable to sell yourself.
Here are a few tips to make your resume more attractive:
- Make your resume visually appealing, easy to read and maximum two pages long.
- Be specific about your skills but try to avoid sounding like a superhero.
- Talk about your accomplishments, not your duties.
- Describe all achievements and experience in detail, supporting them with numbers and figures.
- Be confident about your skills but stay humble as a person.
If you're looking for more tips on how to write an attractive resume, check out our Ultimate Resume Guide: How to Find Happiness and Get Hired in 2020.
Last but not least, avoid doing the most common resume mistakes like adding outdated information, listing obvious skills, or lying. All of these can cost you a job and are super easy to avoid.
3. I underestimated the power of the cover letter
Did you suddenly decide to leave your corporate job and travel the world? Or have you worked at ten different companies over the past eight years?
If your job history isn’t entirely clear, recruiters are less likely to consider your application and offer you a job interview.
A cover letter can be your best friend when it comes to explaining any gaps or terms of unemployment on your resume.
Whether you’re a job hopper, unemployed, or over-qualified for the job, use the cover letter to describe your career. This is your chance to turn your weaknesses into strengths.
Follow our complete guide to writing a powerful cover letter and submit a cover letter that recruiters will love.
4. I didn't tailor my applications to individual positions
I know, it’s tempting to use a single resume for multiple job applications. Especially if you feel like you’ve finally managed to put together the perfect resume.
But employers are less likely to hire candidates who don't put enough effort into customizing their resume to sound like it was meant specifically for them.
Even if you’re applying for jobs within the same field, each position requires different skills. Equally, each company is looking for slightly different qualities in their applicants.
A great place to start is building your resume with the job description in mind. What are the requirements? What tasks would you be doing? Always tailor your resume to the particular job you're applying to. Always.
For more tips, check out this detailed guide on how to tailor your resume to a job offer.
5. My online presence was virtually non-existent
Often, before you get invited for a job interview, hiring managers will check your social media profiles. Do your homework too and before you apply for a job, Google yourself. What do you see?
An outdated LinkedIn profile? That may be the reason you’re getting no job interviews. Having an all-star profile will boost the chances of your application making it through the selection process.
Ok. What do you see next? Your Instagram profile full of drunken party pictures?
Hmm, not impressive either. In fact, as much as 46% of applications get rejected due to inappropriate photos and information on their profile.
Make sure to regularly manage your social media presence to keep it employer-friendly.
On the other hand, you can also present yourself as a passionate professional with a variety of interests. After all, recruiters are people just like you. If you can impress them through your social media, your chances of landing a job interview will skyrocket.