The job market is a battlefield. Never has this been truer than it is today. With hundreds of overqualified candidates vying for a handful of junior jobs, just getting a response to your applications can seem like a victory. Even if that is a no. So how do you turn an application into a nibble, and a nibble into a bite? Here’re our three top tips for landing an interview when you’re fishing for a job.
- Be Considerate
We’ve all been there. Desperately applying for jobs and getting absolutely no response. The problem is that these days, with online job boards and hundreds of positions, people apply to any likely prospect with little consideration. Take your time. Work out what you need from your next job and be selective when you’re looking at adverts. Do a bit of research on the company first. Is it the sort of place you want to work? Do they have the kind of prospects you’re looking for? If they do, don’t apply for the job then and there. Look over your CV, make sure the points that are most relevant to the role jump out at the employer. Tailor it so that it says ‘I’m the perfect candidate for the role’, then leave it a day and go back tomorrow to check for spelling and grammar errors. Take the time to get your cover letter right too. Don’t be afraid to stand out. Remember, the person on the other end will have battled through hundreds of generic, boring cover letters before they get to yours. You want to stay in their mind (for the right reasons). Make it plain you understand the requirements of the role, highlight what it is that you have that they need. And don’t be afraid to state what you are looking for and need from the role. Many people, particularly graduates, forget that this is a two-way street. You need to be happy and fulfilled as much as they need an employee.
- Be Professional
These days, it’s very easy to get a sense of who you are without even meeting you. Make sure your social media pages have no incriminating photo’s on them, nothing that gives the impression that you are not the perfect person for the role. If your outgoing voicemail message is fun and personal, change it. If an employer calls to ask about your application, they want to hear a polite, grown up message that lets them know a) they’ve reached the right person and b) you’ll call them back. Short and sweet is the key.
If you are applying for multiple roles (and let’s be honest, you will be), don’t be hot on answering every call from an unknown number. Let them leave a message and you can call them back. This means you can choose an appropriate, quiet place to talk to a prospective employer and also gives you time to prepare. Have a look over your cover letter and the notes you made on the company. Make sure they are in front of you when you return the call and make a list of three sensible questions to ask about the role and the company. Steer clear of discussing the remuneration package at this point (unless they bring it up). Instead focus on career progression, education and company culture. If an employer is trying to catch you off guard, which is a common trick for sales roles in particular, they may not leave a message. Invest in a phone number lookup app so you can be sure who has called and do your research. That way, when they call again, you’ll be ready to impress them – and they won’t know you had time to do your homework!
- Be Polite But Firm
In all your correspondence with the company, make sure you are polite first and foremost. Even if they don’t offer you the role there’s nothing to say you won’t be interviewing for them in a years time or even doing business with them when you do find a role. The second most important point is to be firm. Don’t grovel or capitulate. There is such a thing as too keen and it’s not a good look when you’re job hunting. Give the impression that you are confident in yourself, sure of your goals and looking selectively for a company that will let you achieve them. This will put you apart from the hundreds of graduates with no firm idea of where they’re going and make sure you stay in a prospective employer’s memory. And just remember, if you’re not sure where you’re going and what you want to do, there’s no harm in faking it!