Let’s face it, finding a job that you love in this day and age is NOT EASY! There is so much competition for jobs it can be very disheartening when you apply for a job on LinkedIn and see that there have already been over 300 applicants. However, there is hope. Most people apply for jobs in the same boring way and expect to get interviews from simply clicking Easy Apply. The sad fact is, the success rate for sending a CV via an ATS (Applicant Tracking System) is a woeful 3%. I was inspired to write this post because 9 out of 10 career seekers come to us with the same problem: they are getting no response to the job applications they’re sending out, which in turn is leading to demotivation and loss of confidence.
So how do we make sure our CV sees actual human eyes? There are many ways to navigate this complicated system and–in order for not only your CV, but your whole application to stand out–you must try something a little bit different. The late great Albert Einstein said “The definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting to get different results”. Here at Eva Connections we are big believers in doing things differently, and we aspire to help our community implement new and innovative approaches to their job search strategy in order to open the door to a new life.
The thing is, the strategies below also take time, and people are 1) inherently lazy and 2) want things immediately. In this technological era we are conditioned to expect things to happen in an instant; however, if you want to stand out and change your life, that doesn’t come easy. It takes thought, time and effort.
So here are our 5 ways to stand out from the crowd in your job search:
Search for people not for jobs
Most people do a quick search on LinkedIn, type in the job title of the role they are aiming for and shoot off their CV to anything that looks like it could be a match. However EVERYONE is doing this, and more often than not they’re doing it wrong.
The best way to make an impact is to search for the key people in organisations who may be responsible for hiring. If you’ve already identified a great job, instead of firing off your CV, first try to find out who the hiring authority is. There may be clues in the job description; since you will have the department the job is located in, it’s then pretty easy to do a quick search to uncover who that department head might be. Once you have discovered who this person is, link in with them and send them a message introducing yourself and your skills. This approach is different and exponentially increases your chances of opening a side door to the role you’ve seen advertised.
You can also take this one step further and identify who their competitors are; often, if it’s a growth industry, there will be opportunities for similar roles in competitor organisations. So take the same approach and replicate it again, and again and again.
Do your research – find the top companies that are growing/taking on new staff/investing/have investment
To develop a different strategy in your job search, find out who the movers and shakers are in the industry that you’re looking to move into. Search business blogs and news articles, follow groups on LinkedIn, read industry reports and go to networking events in your industry sector. I used to love reading the press articles on company websites, they always had golden nuggets of information on new projects that had been won and a quote from the direct line manager about what impact this would have in their business. This is another great way to contact these people, and speak to them about the new projects or business lines that are coming up. It’s a unique approach and something that you will definitely be remembered for.
Conduct informational interviews with people who work at your target companies
There’s nothing more that people like doing than talking about themselves. You can indirectly approach people who work for the target companies you are researching to get a feel for what it’s like to work there, understand the company culture and get insider information on any hot opportunities that might be coming up that aren’t yet in the stratosphere. They can also point you in the right direction of who the key people are in the organisation that you should be speaking to. A great way to contact them is to connect with them, using a personalised message and ask if they’re open to discussing how they got to where they are in their career, as this is a high area of interest for you and where you want to progress your career in.
When you do get them on the phone or–even better–out for a twenty minute coffee meeting, you could ask them questions such as “How did you get started in this career path”, “What advice would you give to someone who is looking to move/progress into this type of position”, ”What positions are open within your organisation”, “What networking events do you recommend I attend?”
This is an excellent way to get insider information that no one else is getting, and determine whether this is indeed the right career direction for you.
Tailor your CV and Cover Letter to the job and the company – don’t send out a blanket one size fit all approach
You must send a tailored CV and cover letter for EACH POSITION YOU APPLY FOR. Yes, this may seem time consuming, however it may put you in the 3% of people that actual have human eyes on their CV and will greatly increase the chances of you getting an interview.
Most ATS’s scan for keywords that have been inputted from the HR department, and if your CV doesn’t possess the keywords on the job profile, you will be screened out. Make your CV stand out from the bland profile statements that are set as standard, such as “I am a great team player” and “I have excellent interpersonal and communication skills” or “high level achievements gained over a fifteen year period”. This doesn’t say anything about you, it doesn’t differentiate you from the other hundreds of applicants applying for the job and it won’t get you an interview. Be specific about your industry, skillset, achievements, use data and tailor your language to that of the job description.
Network, network, network and develop a great 30 second elevator pitch
Yes, you hear this all the time, no it’s not something that people generally LOVE to do, however it’s absolutely necessary if you want to stand out from the crowd and increase your chances of getting your dream job. Most people perceive networking events to be super corporate, stiff, awkward exchanges between people who seem to know much more than you do, but these days the landscape is different and more thought has been put into making these events entertaining.
You can join a vast variety of networking events, meetups, special interest groups, courses, parties, and social enterprises where you get to meet a vast array of people who can add value in some way, dependent on what you want your outcome to be from attending these events. Keep an open mind and push yourself to meet new people. Finding your community is one of the keys to long term happiness and success.
When attending networking events, make sure you have your pitch ready. One of the most popular questions asked at these types of events are “So what is it you do?” Be prepared for this question; you want your 30 second elevator pitch to sound precise, concise and to the point, so it leaves the listener with a clear idea of how you can add value either to them, or someone they know.
A great elevator pitch should contain the following 4 I Framework;
I – Introduce
I – Insight
I – Inspire
I – Invest
For example, “Hi my name’s Katie Howard Cross. I co-own a women’s community in Amsterdam (Introduce). I’m here because I’m keen to meet other like-minded women who are looking for a change in career, returning back to the work environment or who are looking for a new role (Insight). My business is all about helping women with both practical skills in navigating the job market and soft skills in developing their confidence levels including overcoming self-doubt and imposter syndrome. (Inspire). Who do you know who could benefit from this type of community (Invest).
I timed this pitch and it took 25 seconds.
If you follow the 5 strategies and document your progress, you will have a streamlined, strategic and winning approach to taking your job search to the next level. Best of luck!