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In a recent poll, 81 percent of our poll takers said that they only apply to positions that they are qualified for. However, our social media collection of comments indicates a mix of job search strategies - including applying to several jobs, whether qualified or not.
We decided to compile a list of what some job seekers are doing. Hopefully, these themes will help you in your search.
What is your job search strategy?
- Applying selectively to the best matches
- Applying to as many as possible regardless of qualifications
Working Around the ATS
The guidelines I personally use are to apply if my qualifications match 75 to 80 percent of the key required qualifications, and I know I can quickly pick up the other 20 percent. Those who are randomly applying are really making it harder for those of us who are selectively applying.
HR departments are so flooded that they're now hiring companies to screen the resumes and using poorly built Applicant Tracking Systems. The problem now is that since these outsource companies don't have direct contact with the hiring manager, they really have no clue as to what constitutes transferable skills versus an exact match and the ATS's can't discern alternate terms for the same keyword.
I hope with this post that you're trying to bring attention to this and hopefully some people will get it. They're only wasting their time by applying to jobs they're in no way qualified for and making it harder for hiring managers and HR departments to fill these open positions.
What I do is apply to jobs where I meet 80 percent to 90 percent of the requirements and that is after I read and reread the ad. As for transferable skills, I am still trying to figure out where my background in education can transfer in a particular field. I think HR needs to stop being overly reliant on their ATS (Applicant Tracking System) to screen resumes. By the same token, companies need to expand their HR departments and help out those HR reps who are already overwhelmed with resumes and applications
New Strategy Brings Results
I send my tailored CVs and cover letters to jobs that are directly relevant to me. For jobs that are not directly relevant, I tailor my cover letter to communicate that I'm a candidate that could take-up this role as a new learning experience and also add value with my existing experience in other fields. In my initial month, I was just calling recruiters and sending CVs to them, which of course resulted in just two calls of interview. Then I changed my strategy:
- I got my resume professionally done and scoured the net for sites and recruitment agencies that specialized in my sector
- Started attending business networking events and conferences
- Took tips from people that I met at these events on what to say or not say in the resume - many knew of recruiters that fit my bill
- Spruced up my LinkedIn profile and added it to my email signature
- I continue to regularly refresh the job boards with my resume
Well, since then, I get at least one possible interview call every alternate day. Significant improvement and hoping to clinch that offer letter soon. Best of luck to all.
Use a Portion of Skills
The best matches get more of my time as I try to show how I'm a strong match and the most qualified. I don't waste time applying for things I'm not qualified for. I will apply for jobs where my skills are transferable, but where my experience isn't a strong match. For example, I recently applied for a job writing technical proposals, but my experience is really at leading technology projects as the Project Manager where writing proposals is occasionally a part of the role.
Increase Your Odds
The math goes something like this: 300 resumes get you about 45 negative responses, 10 interviews, and two or three suitable offers. So think of the job search as a full time job. Imagine yourself as the person giving the interviews. Check out S.C.O.R.E.
Tough Market, Expanded Search
I have been redundant since last July and I am finding the market hard as well as very selective. I know what skills and experience I have for an appropriate role but still within a day I am instantly told, 'Unfortunately, we have checked your details and am sorry to say that you were unsuccessful at this time, etc...' It becomes very demoralizing, I am based in London, UK, but I'm searching the world over for my next position. I truly wish everyone the best in their next position.
This can be somewhat driven by whether or not one is receiving unemployment benefits. The requirement to submit at least three contacts per week can be a "stretch" for many. With my chemical engineering background, for example, I found few, if any, positions in the area over the past several years. I was basically forced to apply for positions for which I was actually over-qualified. My benefits have long since expired, so I am now focusing on my project management experience and being far more selective. I am only applying to those positions that truly interest me.
Applying to them all. I spend three hours every morning looking on the web sites of companies as well as job posting sites.
I only apply to jobs that fit my qualifications. Employers have enough problems getting resumes from everyone, whether they have the qualifications or not.
In today's lack of jobs, I go for ALL of them! You never know if they can use you somewhere else that they may not even have thought of yet!
I go in, thinking I'm going to be selective, but sometimes other jobs catch my eye. Regardless, I always make sure that I am at least somewhat qualified. No need to waste my time or the employer's.
I spend most of my time applying to the best matches while also applying to a number of interesting positions, regardless of qualifications. I don't devote as much energy on the latter applications.