According to data from Glassdoor, the average corporate job opening attracts 250 résumés, out of which a maximum of six, or just 2.4 percent of those who applied, are called for an interview.
When applying for a job, the odds are simply stacked against you.
There are some simple, seemingly insignificant actions that you can take to improve your job prospects, however. Below are five such actions.
1. Don’t Take Your Cover Letter for Granted: Improve it With the Following Tips Instead.
Your cover letter is your opportunity to make a first impression, and in some cases it can be more important than your résumé. In fact, according to a particular source, most companies first screen resumes with talent management software before a human looks at it; these talent management software often weed out up to 50 percent of applications.
Often, spending a few extra minutes on your cover letter can mean the difference between getting hired or not.
The following tips will help make your cover letter a lot more effective:
- Avoid using cliches and unnatural phrases in your cover letter.
- Keep your cover letter short and simple; you want your cover letter to be no longer than a page; ideally about four paragraphs.
- Use your cover letter to show that you understand the organization’s needs and can play a key role; it should be about the organization and not you. You want to steer clear of using a lot of “I”.
- Carefully review and edit your cover letter to avoid mistakes or typographical errors -- this is very important since your cover letter is often your first impression; in fact, typos in résumés is the number one reason employers automatically dismiss a candidate for consideration, with 61 percent of employers dismissing a candidate just because of this.
- Don’t make your cover letter a repeat of your résumé; instead, use it as an opportunity to highlight your top selling points and address possible discrepancies in your résumé(such as an employment gap, for example).
2. Get Certified
There are many benefits to getting certified: a report by Monster found that getting certified can result in an average pay increase of between 25 to 75 percent. Glassdoor’s interview of recruiters and HR professionals also found that the right certifications can increase a candidate’s odds of getting hired.
If you are yet to be certified, it might be a good idea to get a certification to improve your job prospects and employability.
- If you’re a network administrator, you can get the Cisco Certified Network Associate (CCNA), Cisco Certified Network Professional (CCNP), or Cisco Certified Internetwork Expert (CCIE) certification.
- If you work in construction or any building-related work, you can get the LEED Accredited Professional certification.
- If you work in accounting or finance, you can get a Certified Public Accountant (CPA) or a Chartered Financial Analyst (CFA) certification.
- If you work as a graphic designer you can get the Adobe Certified Associate (ACA) certification.
- If you work in project management you can get the Project Management Professional (PMP) certification.
Regardless of your industry, there is most certainly a certification you can get to increase perception of your value and improve your employability.
3. Highlight Your Accomplishments in a Very Clear and Specific Manner
While many job seekers tend to obsess over their GPA or degree (or lack of) when working on their résumés, recruiters tend to prefer to read more about your accomplishments in similar roles to get a feel for how much of a difference you can make in the organization.
You want to go beyond just listing accomplishments. Instead, you want to list your accomplishments in a clear and specific way.
- Saying: “Achieved annual customer growth rate of 30 percent by supervising the marketing team” is much more effective than simply saying “Helped improve growth rate.”
- Saying: “Boosted profitability by helping negotiate a reduction in fees with partners and working on an algorithm to help improve customers’ average order value” is a lot more effective than simply saying “increased profitability.”
4. Create a Personal Website or Blog and Highlight It When Necessary
Having a personal website, or blog, might appear insignificant or irrelevant to your getting hired, but it could be one of the single most important actions you can take.
In fact, according to a study, hiring managers are more impressed by a candidate’s personal website than any other personal branding tool -- with 56 percent of hiring managers preferring it. Yet, just 7 percent of job seekers have a personal website.
Examples abound of people who have landed their dream jobs thanks to a personal website:
- When Meg Dickey-Kurdziolek was laid off, it was having a personal website and portfolio that actually helped her get hired. During interviews, she realized that recruiters were really paying attention to her website and portfolio because they asked questions about projects that were featured in her portfolio during interviews, and that helped her stand out.
- A personal website also contributed greatly to Benjamin Felix getting a finance job at PWL Capital. Even though Felix didn’t include his website in his résumé, it was brought up during his interview. Apparently, recruiters at PWL Capital came across Felix’s website when they searched for him on Google, and the fact that he had a personal website helped him standout.
- For Mark Scott, who is now VP of corporate communications at eVestment, having a personal website also played a key role in his getting hired at the organization; he was able to direct the recruiter to his personal website during the initial interview to showcase his experience, and that helped him stand out and land the job.
Setting up a website also doesn’t have to be complicated or cost an arm and a leg: WordPress is free, and as indicated by this review, you can have your website hosted and accessible for less than the cost of a cup of coffee. Making your website enhance your employability goes beyond just having a website, though. What matters is that your website does the following:
- Showcase your skills and experience: Show potential employers what you can do rather than tell.
- Include enough background information to make it easy to make a decision about hiring you; Ideally, you want to make it easy to access relevant information about you all in one place. So your website should link to your social profiles (such as LinkedIn) and other relevant online presence as well.
- Highlight relevant social proof in your industry; This includes media features and interviews, awards, and conferences you’ve been invited to.
5. Work on Your Follow Up Game
As I indicated in my last piece, research by Robert Half found that pretty much all hiring managers expect -- and encourage -- candidates to follow up after sending in an application. This is especially critical when you consider that the odds are stacked against you: the average job opening will get about 250 applications, and many of these applicants won’t follow up after submitting their application.
Following up is the one way to give yourself an edge in the sea of applications your employer is likely to be inundated with. Following up puts you ahead of the pack; while it is unlikely that a recruiter remembers each of 250 candidates that applied for a job, you can be sure that the candidate that followed up a few times will stand out.
As the employment landscape gets more competitive, it is important to work on making yourself more employable; often, all it takes are actions that require just a few minutes of your time. The above are five such actions. While they might appear initially insignificant, they can make a whole lot of difference in your getting hired.