Keep Knocking On Doors…

..long enough and eventually someone will open up to let you in. This applies to everything in life. You will often fall short in your first attempt at anything, and that’s ok. It’s all part of the learning and growth processes. Don’t let failure or rejection stop you from chasing after whatever it is that you really want, though. Pick yourself up, dust yourself off and keep going.

Job hunting is a prime example, whether you are seeking your first role, a better role or a totally new career. You find the ideal role advertised, and it is a perfect match with your experience and skillset. You apply and if you’re very lucky, you get shortlisted for interview. More often than not, however, you get a generic rejection email. Or maybe no response at all. You find another role for which you believe you are a perfect fit. Same thing happens again.

This can be a kick in the teeth for anyone. Left unchecked, it erodes your confidence and you find yourself reluctant to apply for more roles. Those which you do apply for, you only put minimal thought and effort into, because you already anticipate rejection. This is a vicious cycle which only serves to keep you from finding the right job.

This cycle can be broken, though, through persistence and a bit of good old review and reflection. If your efforts have fallen flat so far, change your approach. Think about it – when you hit turbulence while pursuing your goals, what do you do? You reflect on your approach so far and what you’ve learned, you seek advice and feedback and get back to work. The same applies to your job hunt.

Applying for jobs is a numbers game. Along with yourself, there could be tens or even hundreds of others all applying for the same role. The recruitment software that companies use to sift through CVs and application forms will cut that number down, and a panel will review the remainders and shortlist the lucky ones. In my own experience, the response rate to job applications is between 10 and 16%. This, however can differ for you, depending on your industry, qualifications and experience.

What does all of this mean? Well, when you hit a brick wall in your job hunt;

  • Take some time to review your personal statement, cv and cover letter. What messages are you sending? How well are you selling yourself to a prospective employer?
  • Seek help. There is plenty of good advice available online about how best to apply for jobs according to each industry, but don’t just rely on the internet. Make friends with recruitment consultants. Register with the main recruitment agencies according to your industry, and get feedback on your CV and cover letter. These are the people who will be approaching companies on your behalf, and their feedback and advice is priceless. Alternatively, ask friends, family or your professional network to help you.
  • Review your approach. Apply directly to companies which interest you. Apply via job boards such as Totaljobs, CV Library, or Indeed among others. Sign up with recruitment agencies. Check trade or industry-specific journals. Go to networking events. Speak to your personal and professional networks. There is no one right method to search for your next job so use as many as you can. Don’t just sit in front of a computer and wait for the right job to come to you. Get out there and hustle for it.
  • Keep applying. Don’t just apply for one or two jobs and then sit back and wait for a reply. Keep searching and keep applying. The more the better, because the more jobs you apply for, the better able you will be to sell yourself to prospective employers. Furthermore, when you have applications pending and are finding more jobs to apply for on a regular basis, you won’t be downhearted when you get rejected. And if you do have a high success rate, with lots of interviews? Then, you will gain a wealth of interview experience and will be in the envious position of choosing your next move.

So, if your job hunt is taking too long and you’re becoming frustrated, just keep going. Review what you have been doing so far and learn from it. What is and isn’t working for you? Why? What can you do about it? Who can help you? Put the work in to improve your personal statement, cv and cover letter and then get back to work.

The more doors you knock on, the more people you talk to and the more jobs you apply for, the more chance you will have of landing your dream role. Want more? Then do more!!!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Job Hunt is a Numbers Game

A month from today, people will be making an eager start on their New Year’s resolutions. Virtually everyone you meet will be telling you about their “new year, new me” transformations and what that entails. Basically, this will fall into 2 categories; improved health and fitness or new jobs and careers. Perhaps a mixture of both. It’s the hunt for a new job which I would like to discuss with you today.

Landing a new job or changing careers is not easy. Sorry if I’m bursting anyone’s bubble here. It is, of course, possible to be headhunted by a recruiter and this will feel as though a dream job is just falling into your lap. It is, however, the exception to the rule. Generally, waiting for the job to come to you or making minimal effort is the quickest way to ensure that your wish for a new job remains just a wish.

Landing a new role, whether it be your first or twenty first requires hard work, time and being proactive. Depending on the industry you want to get into or progress in, it could be of help to read trade journals in which specialist vacancies will be advertised, or visit trade fairs and conferences where you have an opportunity for networking. Most vacancies will be found, however by visiting the “Careers” pages of the organisations which you are interested in working for, or checking online job boards such as Monster. It also helps to register and submit your cv to any other relevant job boards your search may bring up, and to engage the help of agencies which specialise in recruiting for the industry in which you want to work.

It goes without saying, though, that simply applying for a job which matches your skills and experience won’t necessarily land you an interview. There could be hundreds of other candidates with similar experience also applying for the role. A growing number of recruiters and HR departments are using algorithms to filter out the lesser-qualified candidates, following which a selection panel will then decide on who they would like to invite for interview. This takes time after which, maybe, you will get an invite. Maybe not. Once you have submitted the application, the rest is out of your hands.

So, was does this mean? Firstly, if you apply for a job which on paper you are perfectly suited for, don’t just stop after that and wait for the closing date to come so you can find out if you’ve been shortlisted for interview. Keep searching and applying. That first application may earn you an interview, but even that’s not a guarantee that you’ll land the role. Another candidate could interview better.  If you don’t get shortlisted for interview, on the other hand, your confidence will be boosted by the fact that you still have a number of other applications pending. More importantly, if you don’t get an interview for a job which you feel to be perfect for you, don’t be disheartened. Just pick yourself up, scan over your cv and see if there is anything which could be improved upon.

As the title warns, the job hunt is a numbers game. An article I once read stated that you should expect a positive response rate of 10% when applying for jobs. So, if you apply for 10 roles, you should expect at least 1 interview invitation, while hoping for many more. In search of a career change, I have applied for over 60 roles in the last month. While I wait for the closing dates to come and find out for which roles (if any) I will be offered interviews, I am continuing to apply for relevant and suitable roles. So far, my tally is 1 rejection and 1 interview, and if the article’s claim is to be believed, I should expect 5 more interviews. Naturally I want every remaining application to earn me an interview but that may just be wishful thinking.

Takeaways;

  • The more roles you apply for, the more chance you stand of being shortlisted for interview. You also get more experience in completing the application forms and answering questions relevant to your suitability for the role.
  • The more interviews you have, the more chance you have of landing a new role. You might be brilliant enough to succeed in your first interview, but if not, learn from the experience so that next time you can be better prepared for the types of questions that will be asked.

Good luck with your search. Hope t brings you the results you want!!

The Pain and Pleasure of the job hunting process: Application Forms

Once you have decided which approach to apply to your job search (Recruitment Agencies and LinkedIn/ job boards, direct applications or a blended approach), you will face the next hurdle: the application form.

Until the internet took over, a job application was made by requesting an application pack from the organisation, filling in the forms and then sending or faxing them to the return address. Or simply sending in a cv. This process later evolved into online applications.

The first generation of online application forms involved downloading a form (in Microsoft Word format), completing it and either uploading it to the relevant online page or emailing it to a specified address. While it was a much smoother process than the manual one it replaced, it wasn’t without its problems. I personally lost count of the amount of times my computer crashed or internet connection dropped out at the wrong time, causing the completed form to be lost or become corrupted and unreadable. Thankfully technology moved ahead, with computers and internet connections improving greatly thus making the process easier. As for the information which the form requires, it hasn’t changed much. Neither has the order changed much. You will be asked for;

  • Personal information
  • Education
  • Current and previous employment
  • Personal statement
  • Disclaimers to be signed.

Of these, the personal statement is the most interesting and the most challenging. The only guidance given is to ensure that you address the role’s requirements, as highlighted in the person specification. So, you have to write about yourself and how you meet the role’s requirements in a way which is engaging and interesting enough to earn you an interview. Easier said than done, and my problem was that I tended to write a few paragraphs which looked good but didn’t really address the person specification. This would then be copied and pasted into most of my applications, and I would wonder why I didn’t get shortlisted for interviews. Go figure!

While this is still a very popular, and widely used approach, the process is again evolving. Increasingly, organisations are launching their own recruitment portals online, where you can search for current vacancies and apply for them. The job vacancies section is divided into two areas; one for internal applicants who already work for the organisation but are looking for a new role, and the other for external applicants.

Rather than asking you to fill out a form, these portals ask for the same information as above, usually in the same order too, which you complete on several pages which you can return to later and update if necessary. Filling in these sections is easy, and can even be copied and pasted from saved application forms. It’s not cheating, as your personal information, educational background and career history is unlikely to have changed.

The one section which does present a challenge is the new and improved personal statement. This is now broken down into a number of questions (usually 10-15) in which you address the key requirements of the role. Frustrating as it may be that you don’t get to cut and paste one statement across all applications any longer, this approach is far more effective.

In asking you to reflect on individual questions, recruiters will gain a clearer idea of whether you should be shortlisted for interview. Should you be interviewed, you will find yourself with a better understanding of the role and able to communicate how you would be a good fit. This is well worth the extra time required to answer those questions in the first place.

The best part of the new online application process is that after you fit out your first application, all the information copies across to further applications, with the exception of the personal statement.

As with all things over time, the application form has developed and is now being slowly replaced by an online application process. Embrace it! It does require more time and effort to complete, but its worth it. Put in the time and effort which the form requires and you’ll be in a good position to be shortlisted for interview. If you do get shortlisted, the questions you addressed during the application will stand you in good stead.

Than you for reading. I hope you have found in here something useful and of value to you in your job search. In the next post, I will be taking you through the interview itself and the kind of questions that you might encounter