Especially during the coronavirus pandemic, when competition is especially stiff, job seekers need to find ways to get noticed. The good news is that experts say there are ways to stand out from the competition, even with throngs of other applicants vying for the same positions.
The first thing that job seekers need to do is to be more strategic in their approach, says Kanika Tolver, a professional career coach. One way to do that is to search for roles on the big job boards, but actually apply on the company's internal job board.
Instead of just hitting "apply" for a job you see on LinkedIn, for example, go to the company's website and look for the job post there. Fewer people will take the time to actually go to the employer's website, create a profile and apply directly. Your application automatically has a better shot at getting noticed this way, says Tolver.
Searching only one job title limits the return on your search, she says. So, another smart move is to create a list of 5 to 10 job titles or roles you are qualified for based on your experience or skills. For example, if you've been searching for "marketing associate" roles, you might add searches for "marketing coordinator" or "communications associate." These are often similar jobs that are just called different things at different companies. With this approach, you're instantly broadening your job search, she says.
Tolver also says that people often don't do a thorough inventory of their skills. Doing so and searching for jobs by skill can also give you more roles to consider. For example, if you're a master at Excel spreadsheets, search for jobs that require Excel. This may expand your pool of jobs to those outside your industry that are seeking people with your skill set.
With more than 30 million U.S. workers currently jobless, it's critical to adopt strategies that will give you an edge over the competition. Here are some additional steps to take:
Step 1 – Do your homework.
Each job board has strengths and weaknesses, so spend some time on each to fully understand the ones that are a good fit for you. For example, LinkedIn offers you a fee-based membership that gives you greater access to jobs and potential contacts. Sites like Glassdoor give you unlimited access to jobs for a year if you submit an anonymous review of an employer.
Step 2 – Check out specialized job boards.
By following employers on Facebook or Twitter that are of interest, you may be among the first to hear about job openings or mass hirings. There are also job boards that target specific industries, such as Engineering.com, SalesGravy and ConstructionJobs. Such job boards offer you exposure to employers, but in a more targeted way.
Step 3 -Understand the application process.
Not all job boards handle applications the same. Some will connect you directly with an employer, while others will simply pass along your information to the company. Once you apply, you will move through various stages on most of these jobs boards, such as "processing," which means your application has been received, to "offer" or "hired." "Closed" means the job is no longer available.
Step 4 – Write a targeted resume.
Submitting a generic resume could hurt your chances of being noticed by an employer. Instead, take a few minutes to customize the content to the job ad. Try to use the same language in your resume as the job description uses and focus on the key qualifications and skills the employer outlines there.
Step 5 – Focus on transferable skills.
Transferable skills are skills that you've acquired from past jobs and experiences, and carry with you to your next job. It's critical to focus on your transferable skills if you're applying for a role outside of your normal industry. For example, if you have worked as a restaurant server and are now applying for work as a retail associate, don't submit a resume that just focuses on your food service experience. Instead, concentrate on honing in on the skills you possess that the retail job asks for, such as customer service and the ability to multitask. Highlighting your transferable skills allows an employer to see that you'll be able to add value, even without direct experience in the industry.
Step 6 – Craft a compelling cover letter.
A cover letter should be concise, but also highlight your career and skills. Ask the hiring manager to reach out to you to discuss the job or ask any questions, and make sure to thank them for their time, says Tolver.
Step 7 – Understand ATS.
An applicant tracking system (ATS) is software used to weed out unqualified candidates, and is usually pre-programmed with important keywords and phrases related to the job by the hiring manager. Your resume can be eliminated by the ATS simply because you included the wrong words or phrasing in your document. To pass the ATS, pull keywords from the job description and, if you possess these skills, include them in your resume. ATS software is also sensitive to the way in which you save your documents. Save your resume as a Word Doc or PDF format (some employers will specify). If you don't make your resume unique for every job so that it fits the employer's requirements that have been plugged into the ATS, your chances of getting that job greatly decrease.
Step 8 – Be available.
Tolver says it's important to make sure that your resume is searchable to the public, so recruiters can find you when searching for candidates on job boards. However, if you're still employed and want to keep your job search private from your current employer, then you may want to be careful about your settings on sites like LinkedIn. For example, on LinkedIn, you should check your privacy settings in your account and set "sharing profile edits" to "no" as this stops anyone from seeing changes to your profile — such as a boss or coworker.
Step 9 – Look for virtual events.
Some job search sites are offering virtual job fairs, such as Jobcase. Such events enable easier interaction between hiring managers and job seekers during a time of social distancing. After registering online, applicants can chat directly with recruiters.
Step 10 – Follow companies on social media.
If there is a specific company that you'd love to work for, follow the company on social media. Employers often post open positions in their feed. Following targeted companies can give you a headstart on your application when the right job is posted and allow you to be among the first to apply once it has hit a job board.
Recruiters and hiring managers use job boards so that they have access to the best talent possible, but job seekers need to make sure they stand out from the millions of others who are currently unemployed and looking for jobs. Writing a targeted resume and cover letter, and being smart about search terms can ensure employers notice you over the competition.