You’ve finished your coursework, gained relevant experience, presented your best skills and qualifications in a resume, and applied to a job for which you are sure you are a perfect fit. Then, crickets. No follow-up from a recruiter seeking more information. No invitation to an interview. Sometimes, not even a “Thanks, but no thanks” automated reply.
Or, maybe you’ve made it to the interview stage. Perhaps you’ve advanced all the way to the final round of interviews but didn’t get the job. Then, the job goes to someone else and you are left with little or no information as to why.
Getting feedback from recruiters and hiring managers isn’t always easy. But without it, you have no way of knowing where you went wrong.
I frequently see job seekers post about this dilemma on social media. So, I did a little investigating recently to see if I could come up with some answers. Here’s what I found.
Having the right qualifications is just a starting point
As I read through various articles and posts containing advice from hiring managers and talent specialists, one factor stood out. While many job seekers believe that having the appropriate qualifications for a specific job should earn them an interview, this is far from true. Interviews are a costly investment for companies.
When a company is seeking to fill a single position, investing hours interviewing every possible candidate doesn’t make financial sense. More often, only three to five people will get called for an interview, regardless of how many applicants were qualified for the job. To narrow the selection, employers will look beyond the minimum qualifications for the job to decide who to eliminate from consideration.
For this reason, job seekers should invest time in ensuring that their interactions with a prospective employer communicate not only their technical qualifications for the job but also their transferable skills.
How can you present yourself as a well-rounded candidate with a full slate of technical and soft skills? Try these tips.
Create a customized resume for each job to which you apply
In 9 Rookie Mistakes That Will Ruin Your Resume, Randle Browning writes that she doesn’t have time to give every resume she receives a thorough read. Instead, she skims the documents looking for the details that will tell her which candidates might be worth a phone call. She advises job seekers to customize their resume with the job description and audience in mind.
Don’t know who’s doing the hiring? Research the company and find out as much information as you can before you prepare that resume and hit send. By tailoring your resume, you’ll not only draw attention to your best skills but also demonstrate your written communication chops.
Demonstrate your communication skills at every touchpoint Written and verbal communications are highly sought-after skills in today’s employment market. Don’t fail to take advantage of any opportunity to demonstrate these skills. Every phone call, email, instant message, and document you send to a recruiter or prospective employer should demonstrate that you understand how to communicate well.
When Tonya Parker asked her network on LinkedIn for their best tips for job seekers, they told her that a failure to communicate or to communicate poorly was a fast track to elimination. Additionally, failing to communicate may prevent you from gaining the very insights you need to improve your chances of getting hired. In the article, Job search tips from the LinkedIn community, she reports that hiring professionals told her that job applicants should be polite, ask questions, and remember to follow up.
Prep for your interviews
Speaking of knowing your audience, if you do get called for an interview, find out what you can about your interviewer, too. A Redditor recently shared a story of a candidate who sat down to interview with him without realizing that he was a member of a department she was hoping to join. She inadvertently insulted him when she implied that she might not be challenged by the department’s work since her education was superior to most of its current members.
If you aren’t able to discover who you’ll interview with in advance, you can still prepare by researching the company and its culture before you enter the hot seat. As Electronic Arts in-house recruiter, Joe Burridge, notes in his article, 6 Mistakes to Avoid in Your Final Interview, “There’s nothing worse than interviewing a candidate who clearly hasn’t done their research.”
Exhibit professionalism at all times
As you decide to begin your job search, also decide that you will project your professionalism at all times. In 5 Ways to Build and Differentiate your Personal Brand, Fjuri Chief People Officer, Tammy Perkins, writes that she sees “LinkedIn profiles that read like generic resumes, or people that post a series of rants on social media without stopping to think about how it might reflect on them.”
In addition to watching what you post online, make sure your incoming voicemail is professional sounding and answer your phone in a professional manner at all times. If you share a household phone with a roommate or spouse, ask them to treat all incoming calls as if they were coming from your new boss. And, if your current email address isn’t professional-looking, consider creating a new address solely for your job search, recommends Camille Carboneau Roberts in Don’t Let Your Email Address Ruin Federal Job Opportunities.
Help is out there for the proactive job seeker
While attempting to unravel the many mysteries of a modern job search may be frustrating, there is help available. Many recruiters, job coaches, resume writers, and hiring managers are willing to offer advice that can help you figure out why your qualifications aren’t getting you the attention you deserve. You can start to uncover those answers by reading their blogs or books or by asking for advice one-on-one.
Don’t be afraid to seek out advice or ask for assistance: the worst thing that can happen is that someone will tell you no. And, each time you seek new information or ask for help, you’re expanding your knowledge and your network. That’s good news for you and your career.