A casual friend of mine was complaining to me a few days ago that he was sending out a large number of resumes, applying for various jobs, and was frustrated that he was receiving no responses. He’s sent out over 100 resumes in the past couple of months with zero results. That’s right, zero. Nada. Nothing.
Knowing that I’m a hiring manager, he asked me what he was doing wrong. This is far too general a question to answer accurately, but I did ask him a few key questions which I’d ask anyone who was having similar poor results. If your job search isn’t yielding the results you’d like, ask yourself the following questions….and be honest with your answers!
Are Your Customizing Your Cover Letter and Resume for Each Job?
Without question, this is the number one reason for lack of results when applying for jobs. And by customizing, I don’t mean just changing the name of the company and the job title and calling it good. I mean creating a unique cover letter and resume for each position. They should recap your experience and accomplishments in terms of the exact requirements for that job. I’ve explained this in great detail in prior posts, so if you have any doubt about what “unique” means, please review these posts again. Yes, this is tremendously time consuming…but not as time consuming as sending out 100 resumes with no results!
Are You Focusing on Accomplishments, not Responsibilities?
My favorite example is sales positions. If you say you’re “responsible for all sales in the Southwestern United States”, that doesn’t really tell me anything about you that sets you apart from any other candidate, or why I should hire you. Ah, but if you tell me you “increased sales by 30% when the average increase for other territories was 5%”, that’s quite a different story! That tells me that you are not only a sales representative but a successful sales representative. Your resume now gets placed in my “to consider” stack.
Are You Only Applying to Jobs for Which You’re Qualified?
Remember my friend who said he sent out over 100 resumes? I can practically guarantee that he was using a scatter-gun approach and many of the jobs were ones for which he was either unqualified or only marginally qualified. When you need a job, I know it’s tempting to apply for every opening you are even remotely suited for, but this is a large waste of your time. The job market is still very competitive, with many highly qualified candidates for most job openings. If you’re not one of those highly qualified applicants, your resume won’t make it past the first 30 seconds of screening. Your time is much better spent on ferreting out those openings for which you can be competitive and then customizing your cover letter and resume to demonstrate your competitiveness.
Did You Have Someone Else Read Your Cover Letter and Resume?
I’m referring here to an actual person, not a spell/grammar checker. If you are the only person who’s proofread your cover letter and resume, there is close to a 100% chance that they will contain at least one spelling, punctuation or grammatical error. There is also close to a 100% chance that the hiring manager will notice that error right away (yes, I’ll confess – we look for them!). A single error is not necessarily a deal killer, but it can be just that small difference that meant someone else got the interview. Some managers are absolutely fixated on this, so don’t risk it – have a trusted friend proofread it in detail.
Doing all these things right won’t guarantee you’ll get that interview call, but it will eliminate the common causes for poor job search results.