At the time of this post, COVID-19 is still creating complexities with employers, employees, and especially—job seekers. At the end of 2020, Pew Research reported that 15% of adults had been laid off or lost their jobs due to the pandemic, but 2021 shows a sharp turn in favor of job seekers across numerous industries. You may belong to an industry that’s still struggling or maybe you want to take advantage of the jobseeker’s market. Whatever the situation, here are 10 steps that can help you land an interview:
1. Don’t try to write your own resume. It may cost you, but it’ll be worth it. Hire a professional or a writer friend. Maybe you know someone who writes full-time or who is simply an exceptional writer or editor. If either of these apply, you can barter. Writers need social media engagement, blog subscribers, and LinkedIn referrals and endorsements. Even if you have to pay a professional, it’s worth it. Why?
- Job seekers are too close to their own work history and usually struggle to organize and communicate it in a logical way.
- More importantly, they have an exceedingly difficult time selling themselves. It’s much easier for someone else to use reference materials to highlight your strengths and accomplishments, especially if the person knows you.
- Professional resume writers will know what’s passé and what format will be most eye-catching and appropriate in the industry you’re pursuing. They’ll also ensure that everything is clean grammatically and structurally.
2. Gather essential materials for the writer: the most recent copy of your resume, your current job description, and all past performance reviews.
- If you don’t have a copy of your current job description or your company doesn’t use them, create an outline of your main responsibilities instead.
- Furnish copies of past performance reviews for the writer to identify your professional strengths and career accomplishments, which are hopefully listed in your reviews! If not, think about ways you saved the company time and money or increased revenue and employee retention. Include values to quantify gains and improvements. You can also list innovative ideas, departmental awards, or major projects. Briefly explain how each benefited the company.
- The writer will need to know what any industry-specific abbreviations or acronyms stand for.
- It’s common for the writer to have at least one Q & A call with you before producing the base resume. The base resume is what you’ll tailor to specific job posts. More on that later!
3. Once you have your base resume, use it to update your LinkedIn profile. LinkedIn is a powerful career tool, and you’ll want your profile in synch with your base resume. Upload a photo and customize your LinkedIn URL on your resume: https://www.linkedin.com/help/linkedin/answer/87/customize-your-public-profile-url?lang=en.
4. Build a spreadsheet to track jobs you’re interested in, where you are in the process, and your progress. Document the company name, contact information, the date you applied, and if you’ve followed up. It’s off-putting when a hiring manager calls and the potential candidate says, “Now, who were you with? I don’t remember applying.” You want all the cards stacked in your favor, and tracking your progress will keep you from being discouraged.
5. Set a target number of positions you want to apply for per week and stick with it. It’s easy to get bogged down in the job search process and procrastinate applying, but if you don’t apply, you can’t land an interview! Ask a friend to hold you accountable.
6. Most colleges provide career services for alumni regardless of how long ago you graduated. I graduated in 1991, and when I transitioned from corporate work to full-time writing in 2014, my university helped me land a writing contract. Check with career services at your alma mater.
7. Tailor your resume for each position. I’ve helped people write resumes for five years now, and I have an 86% conversion rate from resume to interview. Almost without fail, the candidates who don’t get an interview don’t tailor their resumes for each job posting. They send the same base resume to apply for every job. Why is tailoring so important?
- Most companies use software to ferret out qualified candidates. The software typically searches to see if the same key words in the job posting are also in your resume. If the key words are missing, your resume is passed over and never makes it to a human. Tailoring doesn’t mean misrepresenting, it simply means using the same nomenclature.
- For example: If your previous position was warehouse picker, and you’re applying for the position of order selector, but the tasks are the same—you need to list your previous position as “order selector.”
8. Tailor your cover letter for each position. Your cover letter is the perfect place to explain a gap in employment, detail volunteer work that complements the job you’re applying for, or highlight relevant skills and experience that couldn’t be included in the resume due to space constraints.
- Create the cover letter in standard business format but list the job title and ID under the company’s address.
- Make sure you address the letter to the appropriate person.
- If you think you’ll be viewed as overqualified, address that in the cover letter and explain your reason for applying.
- Research the company and explain what resonates with you. For example, it could be a passion for environmental responsibility or commitment to diversity.
- Some companies only allow for one file upload, so you may need to combine your cover letter and resume into one document.
9. Depending on your industry and profession, consider using a recruiter. You pay nothing. The company who hires you pays the recruiter. Because of COVID-19, virtual recruiting reached an all-time high in 2020.
10. Send a follow-up email after two weeks of submitting. Keep it short, focus on your strongest selling points, and ask questions at the end.
I know this process can be grueling, but putting the work in up-front will lead to better results after. Walk forward in confidence, knowing that God goes before you, and He will equip you!