Let’s face it: searching and applying for new jobs is never easy. Between figuring out your next career move, applying to different positions, and waiting for someone to respond, the process feels like a full-time job all on its own.
So what can you do to improve your chances of landing an interview and getting that job?
There are countless things you could do to improve your chances. But I recommend three key steps that will give you disproportionate results.
1. Make your resume relevant
It’s tempting to just submit your resume to dozens of positions you find online. But the fact is, the people (and machines) on the other end can usually tell when you’re sending a “general” resume and are unlikely to give it a second glance.
I know it takes more time and effort, but it really is worth looking at each job description and emphasizing your most relevant skills and experience.
For example: Let’s say the posting states that customer service is an important aspect of the job. And maybe you did some customer service at your last position, although you list it after the other things you spent most of your time doing. What do you do? Move it up! Make it the first bullet, and consider adding some info about your customer service experience in a “Summary” section at the top of your resume as well.
Which brings us to point number two:
2. Pay attention to keywords
What are keywords? Basically, they are the words and phrases used by employers to describe the job, as well as the main skills and competencies they are looking for. They are important for two reasons.
First, they show that you “speak the same language” as the employer. What if your resume describes your experience developing “marketing strategies,” but the job asks for someone who’s great at creating “marketing plans”? Change your wording! You are talking about the same work, but you should express it in the same words as the employer, which is a subliminal way of saying, “I’m one of you!”
Second, if you don’t use the same words as the employer, you can can actually eliminate yourself before a real person ever sees your resume. You see, most companies use something called Applicant Tracking Software, or ATS. The ATS “reads” resumes submitted for a position and determines whether the candidate is a good match based on the number of relevant keywords in their resume. The more keywords you have from the job description in your resume, the more chances your resume has of receiving a good ranking and be read by a live person.
3. Use your connections
Do you have any connections at the company you are applying to? Use them! If you have a friend or acquaintance at the target company, ask if they could submit your resume for you. Internally-submitted resumes often get priority attention, and if you end up getting hired, your friend might even receive a bonus for referring you.
It may seem like extra work, but by being strategic in your job search, you will ultimately save a lot of time and effort.
Lidia Arshavsky, CPRW is a certified resume writer and career strategist helping moms navigate job changes and re-entry into the workforce. For more info, visit JCStrategic.com.