How To Make Them Respond When You Apply For A Job Online

Susan Adams

Last week I got a note from a reader, asking me for advice about how to elicit a response to her online job applications. “With the technology age upon us, I have been actively applying to employment opportunities on numerous websites,” she wrote. “My problem is that I am not getting any type of feedback.” She estimated she had pursued 100 openings in the last year, and received only two responses. Neither had led to a new job. This job seeker wanted my advice about sprucing up her online applications and in particular, how she could get employers to reply to her queries.

I talked to three of my regular career coach sources, Robert Hellmann and Anita Attridge in New York, and David Couper in Los Angeles, and all of them say that two responses to 100 online applications is in fact a strong showing, given the competition.

Couper is the most blunt. “I tell my clients that they’re wasting their time applying online,” he says. “To me you’ve left it too late,” he says. “Once it’s online, millions of other people have seen it.” Often, he says, online job postings are just a way for hiring managers to claim they’ve looked at lots of applicants when, in fact, they have already decided in advance on an internal hire. Other times, a job is posted and then a budget cut ensues and the position is eliminated before it’s been filled.

Hellmann and Attridge are slightly less pessimistic than Couper, and both say they have had clients who landed jobs by applying online. Attridge says the more specific your skill set is and the more closely it’s matched to the online ad, the greater chance you have of success. Within the last six months, a client of Attridge’s, a technical director in information technology, answered an ad that listed the precise skills that he had under his belt. After an initial phone screening, he went for an interview and wound up getting hired. If you’re not a strong match for the listing, Attrdige says, it may not be worth your time to apply.

Hellmann agrees with Couper and Attridge that most online applications are more trouble than they’re worth, but he has come up with some tips for filling them out efficiently. “Think about the application as a bureaucratic formality,” he advises. “It’s a one-size-fits-all form that has every possible thing on it,” he says. You don’t need to write detailed answers to every question.

In fact, there are a number of queries you should not answer. One is about salary. Many forms won’t let you complete them if you leave spaces blank. Hellmann advises putting in $1, $10 or $100, “anything to show you’re not listing your real salary.” Hellmann insists it’s not fair to discuss compensation before you’ve had a real job interview. Likewise, if there is a question about the name of your current boss, do not fill it in. Write, “to be discussed.” Or if you’re out of work, you can also say, “to be discussed.” In addition, Hellmann says it’s inappropriate for an application to request that you list references. In that slot, he says you should write, “available upon strong mutual interest.” Says Hellmann, “only give your references when you’re close to an offer.”

Most applications ask for your current position and then request a description of your job. Hellmann recommends simply writing, “please see résumé.” Though Hellmann cautions that writing out a description of your work could introduce spelling and grammar mistakes, you could also consider cutting and pasting from your résumé or LinkedIn profile, directly onto the form.

Then there is the issue of keywords. Hellmann says you should make sure your résumé “is filled with keywords that come from the job you’re targeting.” If the online job listing asks for an applicant who is “experienced in portfolio analysis,” make sure you have the words “portfolio analysis” on your résumé. Likewise, if the listing says, “social media marketing expertise,” do have “social media marketing” somewhere on your résumé.

An excellent Wall Street Journal story today underlines how important keywords can be, especially if you’re applying to a large company like Starbucks or Procter & Gamble, both of which use automated tracking systems that screen résumés for keywords, former employers, and schools attended. An example from the Journal story: PNC Financial Services Group filters out bank-teller applicants whose résumés don’t show they have had at least two years of cash-handling experience.

Hellmann says it’s always a good idea to include a concise, specific cover letter with your application. Write a letter, he recommends, “that makes it really hard to screen you out.” Address the job requirements directly and list accomplishments that speak to them, preferably as bullets.

All that said, the most effective thing you can do is to find a personal connection to the hiring manager at the company that’s made the posting. That means networking, which can be made easier by tools like Facebook and LinkedIn. But don’t forget your face-to-face network. If you’re interested in a job posting, do ask everyone you know, including family, friends and colleagues, if they know anyone who works at the company posting the job.

Hellmann tells a story that illustrates the importance of having a direct contact. A client of his recently responded to an online job listing for a lawyer with international tax expertise. The client followed Hellmann’s guidance about including a keyword-filled résumé and bulleted cover letter. He did get a response, a form letter rejection. But then he did some research, figured out who the hiring manager was and contacted him directly with another cover letter and résumé. He followed up with a phone call three days later, and now he’s one of the top two candidates for the job.

The bottom line, as I’ve written before: Spend a minimum of your time applying to online listings. Despite the explosion of online job boards and websites promising a quicker path to employment, most people still find jobs through people they know.

Speaking of precise bullets, here’s a recap of how to get a response to an online job application.  Read The Bullets And The Complete Forbes Article

The Perfect Job Interview in 8 Simple Steps

Jeff Haden

You landed the interview. Awesome! Now don’t screw it up.

I’ve interviewed thousands of people for jobs ranging from entry-level to executive. Easily three-fourths of the candidates made basic interviewing mistakes.

Did I still hire some of them? Absolutely… but never count on your qualifications and experience to outweigh a bad interview.

Here are eight practical ways to shine:

  1. Be likable. Obvious? And critical. Making a great first impression and establishing a real connection is everything. Smile, make eye contact, be enthusiastic, sit forward in your chair, use the interviewer’s name…. Be yourself, but be the best version of yourself you possibly can. We all want to work with people we like and who like us. Use that basic fact to your advantage. Few candidates do.
  2. Never start the interview by saying you want the job. Why? Because you don’t know yet. False commitment is, well, false. Instead…
  3. Ask questions about what really matters to you. (Here are five questions great job candidates ask.) Focus on making sure the job is a good fit: Who you will work with, who you will report to, the scope of responsibilities, etc. Interviews should always be two-way, and interviewers respond positively to people as eager as they are to find the right fit. Plus there’s really no other way to know you want the job. And don’t be afraid to ask several questions. As long as you don’t take completely take over, the interviewer will enjoy and remember a nice change of pace.
  4. Set a hook. A sad truth of interviewing is that later we often don’t remember a tremendous amount about you — especially if we’ve interviewed a number of candidates for the same position. Later we might refer to you as, “The guy with the alligator briefcase,” or, “The lady who did a Tough Mudder,” or, “The guy who grew up in Panama.” Sometimes you may be identified by hooks, so use that to your advantage. Your hook could be clothing (within reason), or an outside interest, or an unusual fact about your upbringing or career. Hooks make you memorable and create an anchor for interviewers to remember you by — and being memorable is everything.
  5. Know what you can offer immediately. Researching the company is a given; go a step farther and find a way you can hit the ground running or contribute to a critical area. If you have a specific technical skill, show how it can be leveraged immediately. But don’t say, for example, “I would love to be in charge of revamping your social media marketing.” One, that’s fairly presumptuous, and two, someone may already be in charge. Instead, share details regarding your skills and say you would love to work with that team. If there is no team, great — you may be put in charge. If there is a team you haven’t stepped on any toes or come across as pushy. Just think about what makes you special and show the benefits to the company. The interviewer will be smart enough to recognize how the project you bring can be used.

4 Job Search Mistakes That Can Cost You the Interview

You take a deep breath and hit that momentous “send” button. Out goes the email that will deliver your cover letter and resume to your (cross your fingers!) future employer, and you breathe a sigh of relief. But that moment of ease doesn’t last long—for the next few days, you check your email obsessively, watch your spam folder like a hawk, and keep hoping for a call from an unknown number.

And after such optimistic anticipation, nothing can fully prepare you for the heart-dropping feeling you experience when you receive an automatically generated, dream-crushing rejection email, letting you know that you haven’t been selected for an interview.

What happened? Your application may have been perfect in your eyes—but if you didn’t land an interview, it’s time to take a good look at your application—from your potential employer’s point of view. While recruiting preferences definitely vary by company, here are four common reasons why you didn’t get that call back.

1. You Didn’t Follow Instructions

Sure, the job application process can be tedious and time consuming (“They want a cover letter, resume, three writing samples, and a YouTube video?”). But the first thing that will knock you out of the running for a new position is failing to follow instructions.

Whether you omit a required element of the application, send the email with something other than the requested subject line, or call the office when the company specifically requests no phone calls, you’ll likely be dismissed right off the bat.

These offenses seem innocent enough, but to a hiring manager, they come across as warning signs that you’re either blindly applying to as many jobs as possible (without actually looking at the application requirements), or that you lack attention to detail—something your future employer is probably not willing to risk.

2. You Lack Experience

When you come across a listing for your absolute dream position, it’s hard to evaluate the job description with an objective eye. No matter what the position requires—and how your experience measures up—you’re going to be 100% certain that you’re the perfect fit.

Unfortunately, if the job requires 10-15 years of experience, the hiring manager isn’t going to view the four years listed on your resume with such a lenient eye. Aiming high is one thing: If you don’t meet the required experience by a small margin, but make up for it with other stellar professional accomplishments and skills, you may still have a chance. But if a glance at your resume clearly indicates that you’re under-qualified for the job, you aren’t going to be getting that interview—so don’t waste your time, it’s better spent elsewhere.

Want the Job? Change How You Job Search

by Hannah Morgan

Do you spend the majority of your job search connecting with people – networking both online and in-person?

If you’re like most job seekers, the answer is likely, “no”. In fact, the average job seeker spends most of their time applying to online applications, tweaking their resume… and applying to more job postings.
If this sounds like you, stop… right now!

Just as the old way of searching through the newspaper job classifieds gave way to job postings online… your job search must transform again. The majority of hiring now happens through referrals!

I remember when I was working with one job seeker in particular, he asked what advice I had to help him improve his job search. Simple, I said, “I forbid you from applying for any more jobs. Go talk to people instead!”

A friend sent me this article, Job-Hunt Tips from the Depression-Era Playbook, from the Wall Street Journal (quite a fascinating read!) During the Great Depression, unemployment was above 24%. (And we’re complaining about 8% now, jeez!) Many were able to find work or created work. This article tells the tales of some of the survivors of the depression. Read and learn!

The article also sites a paper presented at the Brookings Institution by Princeton economist Alan Krueger and Columbia Business School’s Andreas Mueller. In their survey of over 6,000 job seekers, this is what they found:
Alan Krueger Andreas Mueller paper
Why, when we know a referral is the best chance we have of getting a job, are we stuck in a job search strategy that hasn’t worked since 2007? The body of proof is out there across so many studies… recruiters prefer to interview and hire people they know or whom are referred by people they know.

For the next 30 days, I challenge you to drastically change how you spend your job search time. I challenge you to do something dramatically different.
If you are unemployed, you should be spending at least 35 hours a week in job search related activities… and 70% of that time should be spent networking!

job search hours

It will take time and great effort on your part to make this transition. Be patient. You won’t feel immediate gratification. Here are some thoughts on how you can begin to make this happen as quickly as possible:  Find out how and read the complete article

Job Search Tips For The Over 40 Crowd

By

Looking for a job as an experienced 40+ candidate is hard! That news is bad (and obvious enough) but the worse news is that many of the job search tips you as an experienced, older candidate are receiving isn’t designed for you. They are designed for new grads or the 25-35 year old crowd.

Constantly running up against the “age discrimination” wall could be contributing to being a discouraged job seeker or job search depression.

Let me explain why these job search tips are bad for you with a few simple examples:

  • “Selling” your experience on your cover letter, resume and as often as you can in an interview is not advice designed for someone with 15+ years of experience. It is advice for people with the little or enough experience. Not for people with “too much” experience.
  • Listing your experience, all of your experience in chronological order on your resume is for people with little or enough experience. Not for people with lots of experience like you.

The even worse news is, if you have been using these job search tips, you have either been dramatically increasing your risk of being eliminated or more realistically getting yourself eliminated. Let’s not forget the small chance that you could end up with a bad job!

If you are not sure whether or not to believe, check for yourself. Go onto whatever job board and search jobs in your industry that are asking for 10+ years of experience. 80 – 90% of postings are asking for anywhere from 3 – 8 years of experience.

The message you are sending when you use common job search tips by “bragging” that you have more experience that the person you will report to is… My goal is to “push you out” of your job to make room for myself.

The message you want to send is… I want to “push you UP” in your job and because I understand what you do and have helped you, you will bring me along with you. Look At that, a job search tip for people over 40!

It is a small shift, but an essential shift and I know you asking, “ but Corey, how do I make this shift?” Good question!

Here are 3 small job search tips I can offer you – a job seeker who is 40+. I would say they are simple, but they are not. To make the shift requires you to abandon much of what you have been doing in the past, stop thinking of yourself as just a “job seeker” and acknowledge that you have unique challenges and therefore need to take a unique approach.

1) Stop talking about “all” of your experience and start talking about your “relevant” experience and your knowledge of this particular job.

2) Stop talking about “how you can do whatever is needed” because you have “done it all” and start talking about how you understand the requirements of THIS job, how it affects the business and how you can “assist.”

TIP #3 and Complete Business2Community Article

6 Ways to Organize your Job Search

Shala Marks 


I don’t know many people who actually enjoy looking for a job (me included), but at some point in our lives, we all have to. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the average unemployed person spends more than eight months looking for work. The economy and job market can affect this time-frame, increasing or decreasing it, but so can another important factorbeing unorganized.

The say looking for a job is a full-time job. Well, like any type of work, being unorganized can prolong your workday and make it that much more difficult to complete tasks. If your desk is messy it may be hard to locate the files you need. If you don’t use a calendar or scheduling tool, you may be cramped for time as your tasks and meetings run together.

So, to avoid making your job search any longer (or stressful) than necessary, I have outlined six ways to get organized:

Plan
Think about your short and long term goals in relation to this job search. What date would you like to have a job by (e.g. in x amount of months)? How many jobs do you want to apply for per day/week? What is the best time for you to apply for jobs during the day? As you answer these questions you will begin to formulate your job-search plan because 1) you’ll have your end goals setup 2) you will have your target ‘applying goal’ in place and 3) a routine for when and how much time you spend applying for job will be established. Planning is the first step to becoming organized.

Research
Look up the industry or industries you want to enter and the types of jobs you’d like to apply for. Create a list of possible occupations and their degree and/or skills requirements. This will help when you start searching for jobs because you will have some background knowledge on various roles and can eliminate the time you spend reading job ads you’re unsure about. For example, perhaps you want to enter the PR field and come across a marketing associate position. If you have prior background knowledge of what a marketing associate does, you would know that this role is not the press-release writing/written communication role you’re looking for. Then you won’t waste time reading the job description.

Conducting research prior to your job search will also help you discover new career choices you may not have known about.

Update
Update your cover letters and resumes to the present day (or your last occupation). Be sure to keep both documents general until you’re ready to apply for jobs. As you apply for various positions, you can personalize your cover letter and resume. Also, be sure to have these documents ready in an electronic form, and update your LinkedIn profile as it is its own type of resume.

Tips 4-6 and Complete Article