Nothing is more frustrating than sending out a ton of resumes without being called for an interview. No one likes looking for a job especially when you don’t get a response to any of your resumes.
Statistics show that on average 250 applications are received for each position and only six of those applicants will be called for an interview. What’s more, your resume and cover letter will be screened by applicant tracking software (ATS) before being scanned by a live person. And that person will spend six seconds deciding if you’re a fit or not.
You need the magic bullet to land a job interview nowadays. The bad news is that there isn’t a magic bullet. The good news is that there are several things you can do to increase your chances of landing an interview.
I’m going to walk you through the steps of how to land a job interview – or at least dramatically improve your chances!
Not every job is for you.
You are much better off applying for fewer jobs that are aligned with your career path over lots of jobs just to bring in a paycheck. The shotgun approach of sending out resume after resume doesn’t work for two reasons: one, it’s impossible to tailor your cover letter and resume to every single job that comes across Indeed.com, and two, you’re likely applying for jobs you’re overqualified to do.
An overqualified applicant is not a good choice for the employer because more times than not, the new hire will quit as soon as they find a job matching their qualifications or the employer simply cannot afford to pay them.
Instead, adopt a targeted approach to sending cover letters and resumes. Read job descriptions carefully. If your skills match 80% of the job requirements and the position will help you reach your career goals, apply. If you find that you’ve “been there, done that,” move onto the next posting.
Get your resume job-specific ready.
Most of the people I coach have one basic resume listing everything they’ve done since birth. That’s not going to do you any favors. When I look over their resumes, they’re too full! Getting your resume job-specific ready means emphasizing your strengths as it relates to the position for which you’re applying. Use keywords that match the job description. This ensures you’ll get past ATS screening. Make sure there are absolutely NO grammatical or spelling errors. OK, we’re all human, but this is one time when you have to don your cape – you cannot have any errors. Even one small error will cost you an interview. Errors on a resume or cover letter give the impression that you cut corners or don’t care.
Ah, the cover letter – you need one!
One of my favorite topics, the cover letter. It’s antiquated and seldom read yet makes the difference between getting an interview or not. You absolutely must include a cover letter. Use this three-step approach to drafting your perfect cover letter.
- Who you are (be brief).
- Why you want to work for the company.
- How your skills match what they’re looking for.
Of course, it goes without saying that you must address your cover letter to a human, not “to whom it may concern.” Your cover letter, like your resume, will be screened through an ATS system. Use relevant keywords to highlight your experience and explain any gaps you have in your resume.
Before drafting your cover letter, research the company. See if you can identify company pain points – areas where the company has difficulty or can improve. Tie your skill set to their pain points. Show the company in your cover letter how you can solve their problems.
Don’t drop off the milk without telling someone it’s in the sun.
I’m fairly convinced we don’t have milk drop off service anymore because we’re too busy to bring it inside before the milk spoils on the front porch.
When you send off your resume, you’re only half-way there. You need to follow-up. Follow-up within three to five days and then follow-up one more time seven to ten days later. (Of course, if the job posting has a timeline listed, follow that timeline.) Your follow-up email should have the following components:
- Be addressed appropriately (no sir, ma’am, or to who it may concern).
- Contain a clear subject line, “Follow-up to resume for XYZ position – W. Smith.”
- Be professional and brief.
- Restate why you want the position, connecting your experience to company pain points.
- Include a call-to-action.
- Attach your original resume and cover letter.
Your follow-up should be polite and used as a way of saying that you’re still interested and excited for the role. Don’t gush or beg.
So, the next time you’re about to hit “send” to shoot your resume out there, stop and review these guidelines. Can you honestly say that you’ve done everything in your control to increase your chances for an interview? This includes really looking at the job description – is it a fit for you? Or are you just hungry for a job?
Taking the time before sending your resume is the best way to get an interview. Dwight Eisenhower said, “Luck is where preparation meets opportunity.” This cannot be more true when you want to land a job interview.
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