Are you tired of sending out resumes and getting no responses, or going out on interviews only to lose the job to another applicant? These eight strategies can help increase your chances of getting hired.
Finding a job is difficult. Some people get lucky and find their dream job right out of the gate. Others send out dozens or even hundreds of resumes before they land an interview. If you find yourself in the latter situation, you may be wondering what you can do to change your luck. There’s no magic spell that can get you hired right away, but the eight tips below will significantly improve your chances.
1. Tell the truth
This certainly isn’t the kind of secret step that is going to push you to the top of the applicant pile every time, but it’s important to realize how vital honesty is during the job application process—especially because of how unusual it can be. According to CareerBuilder, 58% of hiring managers have caught a lie on a resume. Job searchers these days seem predisposed to stretch the truth, whether it’s something relatively innocuous like tweaking the wording of a job title or something extreme like lying about a college degree. Either lie can disqualify you from consideration simply because employers want to hire honest, respectful people. So tell the truth. If you don’t, there’s a good chance a background check will reveal your dishonesty, anyway.
2. Try to get a referral
You know that old mantra that says, “It’s not about what you know, but who you know”? Well, it turns out that mantra has some truth to it. According to the University of Michigan University Career Center, referrals account for just 7% of all job applicants but 40% of all hires. In other words, having someone in your corner who can put in a good word with the hiring manager will drastically improve your chances of getting hired. Networking is a vital part of finding a job. Use LinkedIn to connect with people at companies where you want to work and try to be present for industry events and major job fairs where you could make connections. It might be your contacts, as much as your education or work experience, that lands you a job.
3. Clean up your social media profiles
LinkedIn is not the only social network that recruiters and hiring managers use. Some might be in the habit of checking up on their top applicants on Facebook and Twitter. When you are searching for a job, it’s best not to think of your online profiles as social places. Rather, think of them as the online face of your personal brand. Go through your profiles and change or vaporize anything you wouldn’t want a potential future boss to see. Profane posts, rants, offensive content and racy photos all need to go, as do any references to drugs or alcohol. You want to appear as professional on Facebook as you do in your interview.
4. Do your homework
Social media background checks show how the internet can hurt your job chances if you aren’t careful. The web can also substantially improve your chances, and research is one of the easiest ways to reap the benefits. Thanks to the internet, it’s easier than ever before to learn about companies, their mission statements, and their current projects and initiatives. Before your interview, brush up on your reading about the company in question. This kind of homework will help you formulate smart and substantive questions to ask hiring managers in the interview. By showing that you know a thing or two about the company, you can single yourself out as someone who is really passionate about the company’s work. Applicants who show that kind of passion and interest are always more likely to get hired than those who don’t.
5. Build your resume based on the job description (but don’t go overboard!)
Tailoring your resume to fit the job description is a smart idea, and not just because it will help show a hiring manager that you are qualified for the position. Many companies these days are using what are called applicant tracking systems (ATS) to assess resumes. Among other things, these systems will look for specific keywords in your resume. How often you use these keywords, as well as the context in which you use them, will determine whether or not your application even passes the automation stage. As a result, building your resume based on the job description is a must.
Just make sure you aren’t going overboard. Listing skills or qualifications you don’t actually have just because they appear in the job description breaks rule number one on this list of best practices.
6. Emphasize your strengths and accomplishments
Too many applicants make the mistake of using their resumes to list job responsibilities and little else. In other words, they take the “build your resume based on the job description” tip too literally. Your resume shouldn’t look like a job description. It should detail what you accomplished while working a job. Where possible, spice up your resume with details about what you brought to your last job. Did you bring in a dozen new accounts worth $2 million annually? Did you oversee the editing and publication of 60 articles a week? Statistics make effective resume bullets because they quantify your strengths and accomplishments. They make your resume pop and give your hiring manager a sense of what you might bring to the job opening they are trying to fill.
7. Run a background check on yourself, just to be safe
With very limited exceptions, you are going to have to undergo and pass a criminal background check before you can be hired. Even if you think your record is squeaky clean, it’s a good idea to run a background check on yourself before you go out on any interviews. Even if your record is clean, if you have a common name, someone could have misfiled a criminal conviction to your record at some point in the past. Finding these issues and fixing them before your prospective employer does might just get you hired instead of rejected.
8. Do a follow-up
Get in the habit of following up with your interviewers. Send your interviewer an email or card thanking them for their time and consideration. Even if they hire someone else for the position, a follow-up conveys professionalism and class. It’s the kind of gesture that can turn an interviewer into a long-time contact who could help you land a job down the road.
Author Michael Klazema has been developing products for pre-employment screening and improving online customer experiences in the background screening industry since 2009. He is the lead author and editor for Backgroundchecks.com. He lives in Dallas, TX with his family and enjoys the rich culinary histories of various old and new world countries.