- How many times have you ever applied for a job online?
- How many times have you received a callback?
- How many in-person interviews have you had?
- How many job offers have you gotten?
If your numbers stay relatively consistent from top to bottom, congratulations! You’re a purple squirrel! (Why are you even reading this? Shouldn’t you be leaping from purple treetop to purple treetop, or speaking at TED?) If you’re like the rest of us, the majority of job seekers, your answers will sequentially decrease in value. For example, you may have applied to 50 jobs, received five callbacks, had two interviews, and been offered one job. Or maybe you'd celebrate if you even got a single callback. Either way, the decrease is normal, and a product of the linear nature of the process. As a job seeker, you have to make it through every step in order to get the job. For example, you can’t receive a callback without applying, nor can you have an interview without a callback.
- How many applications do you receive for an online job posting?
- How many candidates do you call for a follow up?
- How many candidates do you invite into the office for an interview?
- How many candidates will you hire?
- Step One: Be an underdog. It’s important to get into an optimistic, yet realistic, frame of mind from the onset of your job hunt. Like any underdog, you shouldn’t expect to win. But you can use your position to your advantage. You’re hungrier, there’s less outside pressure to succeed, and people love rooting for underdogs. With the right frame of mind, you can prepare yourself in a way that makes you unexpected and surprising. You can show that you’re hungry for the job and that you’ll work for it.
- Step Two: Get noticed. This is the hardest part of the game, and the most vital, as it’s difficult to stand out from the crowd. So we’ll break this into pieces.
- Play the part. The best way to improve your odds is to focus on your application from the recruiter’s perspective. A recruiter is working from the same job description that’s posted online. Here’s where the communications gap lives and breathes. Because the recruiter is speaking the language of the job description, you should treat the job description like your Rosetta Stone. Read it carefully, understand what the company is looking for, and then use the same language in your application. That means you should tailor your cover letter, resume, and any other materials that you submit. A recruiter will be looking for a specialist that can command the open position. Specialists know their craft and their language conveys their knowledge. You should do the same.
- Get feedback. Use your friends and find resources to help you. Every time you apply for a job, you should strive for the perfect application. Work to clean up grammatical errors, polish the roughness out of your materials, and focus on the details. One way to get feedback is to send your cover letter, resume, and portfolio to friends, family, and colleagues. Ask them to be honest, and take their advice. You can also take advantage of other resources, like a free resume critique from Nexxt.
- Follow protocol. Submit only what the job posting requests—nothing more, nothing less. This will show that you can follow directions. And don’t lie by pretending you have experience in areas that you don’t. Instead relate the experiences you do have, and show how they apply. Many skills are translatable, so translate them to the recruiter. Remember: Underdogs have little appeal if they ignore the rules of the game; they’re exciting because they adhere to the rules and master them. The candidates who follow the rules, command the media used in their applications, and look the best throughout the process have the best chance of moving forward.
- Step Three: Nail the interview. At this point, the hardest part is over, and you’ve separated yourself from the pack. It may be helpful to remind yourself that you’re still the underdog, and you haven’t won the game yet. There’s still no guarantee that you’ll get the position. Focus on being as present as possible in the interview. You can start by researching the company and make sure you’re up to date on your profession. (You can thumb through news outlets, like News and Advice on Nexxt, to refresh yourself and stay current.) Overall, good interviews are a matter of chemistry and confidence. Show your interest, and explain and contextualize your skills. Ask questions. Take notes if you have to. Do your best. Breathe.
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