Earlier this year, a survey of more than 5,000 UK jobseekers found that 60% spend less than two hours working on each job application –this includes writing the resume, the cover letter, and preparing for the interview. The figures are most probably very similar for other fast-paced, developed countries such as the USA.
What does this show? That many of us think that ‘job search’ translates into ‘cram in as many job applications as possible’? The laws of probability determine that the more jobs we apply for, the more chance we’ll have of getting one, right? Wrong. An employer organisation will hire you because your application and interview were of a high quality. You made the effort to show that you have what that organisation values in terms of both capability and enthusiasm for the particular role. You won’t get hired by any business just because you happened to apply to 99 others. That just doesn’t make any sense!
Spend some quality time over your resume, putting the effort in to ensure it actually helps you get a job. This does not mean that you have to write something the length of The Articles of Confederation. Target each resume towards each job vacancy and include only the information that you need to tell each particular company.
Your job cover letter also has to be targeted towards each different opening. Those of us who like to save time by using a template and just changing the address and name of the company each time need to understand that recruiters can tell when we do this.
One of the best ways to mess up an interview is to be underprepared. Too many of us are convinced ‘interview preparation’ means picking out an expensive-looking suit and practising answers to all the usual questions. But what about researching the company before you go in there? This gives you a feel for the values and direction of the organisation, which will help you target your answers in the interview. It will also give you fuel for questions to ask the interviewers. It may seem like it’s just a formality when they ask if you have any questions, but asking intelligent, specific questions will show you’re genuinely interested in the organisation and what it’s about.
Even if you don’t believe any of the above is true, the interviewers might just ask you straight out if you’ve researched the company. Someone I know once went into an interview and the first question he was asked was ‘Did you look at our website?’ He hadn’t and he had no choice but to admit that because there’s no bluffing that kind of thing. He didn’t get the job.
So the message is loud and clear-if we focus more on targeted preparation and less on hitting self-imposed target numbers of job applications, we’re more likely to be successful in our job search
Nisa Chitakasem is the founder of Position Ignition – a careers company dedicated to taking you to the next step in your career. Nisa is passionate about helping individuals find the right career path for them whether it involves finding a more rewarding career, making a career change, figuring out the right career plan or being creative about career directions.
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