4 Tips for Improving Your Chances of Securing a Job
From tracking down employment opportunities and fixing up your resume to sending in applications and preparing for interviews, searching for a new job can be quite a stressful process. It becomes even more so if you’re concerned about your financial situation or future career prospects—the added pressure makes it even harder to think clearly about the challenges and opportunities before you. Whether you’re currently employed and looking for a change or out of work and looking for a new start, a job search takes a lot of time and effort, and it can be frustrating when you don’t see the results you expect.
First of all, don’t despair. Finding a good new job is a grueling process for everyone, and your frustration is perfectly understandable. Don’t forget that you’re usually competing against hundreds of other candidates for the same job, so rejection is the norm—most applicants get rejected. Rejection is tough, especially if you’re applying for your dream job, and that’s when you may start doubting yourself and wondering if you’re doing something wrong.
Although not every rejection is an indictment of your qualifications, being well-prepared and setting the right expectations can make finding a new job a much smoother and more rewarding experience. In other words, keep looking for ways to improve your skills, expertise, and resume, but don’t let a string of rejections kill your spirit.
If you’re feeling overwhelmed and would like some professional assistance with your resume or LinkedIn profile, check out our job success services and let our team of experts help you land your dream job. Whether you need a custom cover letter or interview preparation, they will guide you through the job application process with tailored advice and assistance.
So, what are some of the things you can do to increase your chances of getting hired?
1. Know what kind of job you want
With so many job boards out there featuring thousands and thousands of vacancies, it’s easy to fall into the trap of applying for every single job that kind of matches your skills and hoping for the best. However, this isn’t the best strategy, either for landing a job you want or maintaining your mental health throughout the job search. Although you might get lucky and stumble onto something good, it’s not the most efficient way to go about getting it. Stretching yourself too thin probably means you’re applying for jobs you’re only vaguely qualified for, which is almost sure to end in rejection. The more rejections that pile up, the heavier the psychological burden will be, which is why we recommend being more practical about how you search for available positions.
The first thing you should consider is what kind of job you actually want. You may think you know, but how clear is your vision? What are your longer-term goals, and what steps can you take now to achieve them? Ponder these questions before you waste time applying for jobs you don’t truly want.
Narrowing down the types of jobs you would like and plugging their attributes into the advanced search bar of a job board will help you weed out irrelevant postings and find positions you’re better qualified for. Applying for jobs that match your skills and experience is the best way to increase your chances of being invited for an interview as companies prefer employees who don’t need extensive training. Considering the huge number of applicants you’re competing with, it’s easy to understand how unlikely you are to land a job for which you’re not that well qualified.
If you’re not entirely sure what kind of position you want, make a list of the companies you’d like to work for and check out what vacancies they have. Basically, go into job boards with a roadmap, or you might get lost in the crowd.
2. Customize your resume for every job
It can be tempting to create one version of your resume and send it out with every job application to save time, but you wouldn’t be doing yourself any favors with that approach. Hiring managers can sniff a generic resume from a mile away, and they’ll probably label you unmotivated and lazy, most likely tossing your resume to the side without a second thought.
Mind you, that’s only if your generic resume actually makes it to the hiring manager’s desk. These days, most companies use an applicant tracking system (ATS) to narrow down their candidate pool, and these computer programs typically work by scanning resumes and cover letters for relevant keywords. So, if you don’t customize your resume for the requirements of each job and include keywords, you probably won’t make it past the gates.
Whether it’s an AI system or a real person looking at your resume, you only have a few seconds to make a strong enough impression for them to consider your application worthy of moving to the next stage. For this reason, customizing your resume to match the job requirements is imperative. That means highlighting your most relevant skills and experience rather than cramming in every single job you’ve had. Remember: It’s about quality, not quantity.
3. Start networking
Although we’d all love to live in a pure meritocracy, the truth is that many people get jobs not because of what they know but because of who they know. Maybe you can be one of those people. If you don’t have a professional network, the idea may sound impossible to you, but you could be surprised at the opportunities that open up when you start connecting with other professionals.
Engage with people in your industry on LinkedIn, join professional groups in your area or online, and attend trade events or conferences. Also, don’t be afraid to reach out to the people you know and tell them what kind of position you’re looking for—you never know who might be able to get you an interview or at least open the door for you.
Another reason to start networking is to get character and employment references as it never hurts to have a few people willing to talk you up to a potential employer. Whether it’s a former boss or colleague, a client, a business partner, or an investor, recommendations and endorsements will always boost your profile. The more people you have in your network, the more references you’ll have at your disposal when you need them, so get out there and start building relationships. Just make sure to return the favors, establishing connections that are mutually beneficial.
4. Prepare for the job interview
It’s crucial to be well prepared when you get invited to interview for a job, so don’t wait until the last minute to pick out your clothes and find the best route to get there a few minutes early. Make sure you try on your outfit in advance—see how it looks on you and whether it’s comfortable enough to wear confidently for the duration of the interview. No matter how snazzy your attire makes you look, if it’s uncomfortable or itchy, you’ll be unable to focus on your interview.
You want to give yourself a few days to research the company, prepare a few questions for the interviewer, rehearse your answers to common interview questions, and practice telling the interviewer a few stories from your job history that clearly match your qualifications to the job description. Keep in mind that a well-prepared candidate is a confident candidate and one much more likely to land the job. One best practice is to do a few mock interviews—whether that’s by yourself in front of the mirror (record it so you can get a sense of your body language), with a friend or a relative playing the interviewer, or with one of our mock interview experts, who can offer tailored advice so you can polish your interview skills and build up your confidence.
It’s important to maintain a positive attitude throughout the job search and show your enthusiasm for a position when you interview for it. Don’t forget to send the interviewer a thank-you note—it doesn’t take much, but it will seriously improve your chances of getting hired. Not sure how to write one? No worries, you can avail yourself of our follow-up letter templates.
In conclusion, remember to be yourself, to be honest, and to keep applying for jobs until you get hired—don’t just sit around waiting for a call. To some degree, luck plays a part—maybe in who you’re competing against or what the personal biases of the hiring manager are—but in many ways, you create your own luck. So, if at first you don’t succeed, learn from your mistakes, adjust your approach, and try again!