However, the good news is job seekers can do their part to speed things up a little bit. Here are 20 ways to get hired fast:
1. Get Specific
Time is precious when you’re looking for a new job. Don’t waste it by filling out a bunch of applications to places you are only semi-interested in. Instead, take the time to figure out the type of position you would really enjoy. Then, devote yourself to finding something that matches.
2. Don’t Settle
Just because there are 10 openings in your field doesn’t mean you should apply to all of them. Before applying to an organization, research it online. Speak with people who have worked there, if possible. Try to find a company that fits your values and meets your needs.
Before starting your research, try creating an ideal employer profile. What would this place be like? Look for companies that closely match your dream employer criteria.
3. Don’t Stop Looking
After you’ve submitted some applications, you’ll want to keep your eyes open for other opportunities that might become available. It’s better to apply for multiple interesting positions than for just one or two.
If a company sends a rejection letter, take this opportunity to ask for feedback on what you could have done differently. Keep this in mind for next time.
4. Remember the Cover letter
Hiring managers only spend 5-7 seconds reviewing each resume, so it’s important to grab their attention with a cover letter. It’s best practice to change your cover letter up for each position you apply for.
A good cover letter will give a brief summary of your qualifications and touch on how you plan to help the company thrive. Hiring managers want to know what sets you apart from other applicants. Without this information, your resume may not stand out.
5. Craft a Job-Specific Resume
As with your cover letters, each resume you submit should be tailored to the particular job for which you are applying. Highlight the skills, experiences, and accomplishments that are most relevant to the job at hand. You don’t want the applicant tracking system to filter you out of the running just because you’re missing a couple keywords!
6. Keep Your Resume Simple
If you’ve amassed a work history that could run for pages and pages, there’s no need to list it all. Instead, keep it simple and recent. Your past three jobs or 5-7 years of employment are enough to offer a clear view into your work experience. Providing too much information can be overwhelming and could agitate the hiring manager instead of impress them.
7. Employment Isn’t Everything
Many job seekers go weeks or even months without finding the right job. This leaves gaps in their work histories, which can reflect badly on them.
Fortunately, these gaps can be closed by listing volunteer work or freelance projects performed during the gap. Were you a stay-at-home parent? List that as well! Recruiters want to know what you were doing and how your skills were growing when you were out of work.
8. Dress for the Job You Want
Most of us have heard the saying before, and it really does hold some truth. When heading to an interview, don’t dress just for your part — instead, dress for the part of upper or senior management. First impressions are everything, especially when you only have 30 minutes or so to talk with someone before they decide whether or not to hire you. Make it count!
9. Don’t Fake It
Employers do not want fake smiles or rehearsed answers during the interview. They want to know whether you really align with their culture and the position. Being misleading helps neither of you.
Saying what you think the employer wants to hear might get the job, but the job could end up being a total mismatch for you. Being honest is the best way to show off your skills and land the job of your dreams.
10. Share Stories
It’s important to back up your skills and experience during the interview by sharing stories of situations in which your skills really stood out. Don’t just say you have skills — describe the ways in which those skills created value for your previous employers.
11. Leave Hate at the Door
When you’re talking about your previous role, remember not to badmouth you previous employer. Speaking badly about former employers will only make the interviewer wonder how you’ll talk about their company down the line.
12. Follow Up
Whether you’ve heard back about the job offer or not, it’s important to follow up a few days after the interview. Send a thank-you letter or email expressing your appreciation for the opportunity to talk. Reiterate why you want to work for the company. Show the employer you are sincerely interested and invested in their role.
Job opportunities can arise in the unlikeliest places. Be open to communicating and networking with others in your field. Whether at industry events, over email, or through social media platforms like LinkedIn, make the effort to connect with others.
14. Get References
Before applying to a job, create a list of references and reach out to those people to make sure they are comfortable with being on your list. Give them a heads up that you are applying to certain companies that may contact them. Your references should be people who can speak to your work experience and skills. Choose people who are familiar with your work ethic and who can provide unbiased, honest opinions of you as a worker.
15. Do It Again
So, you applied for a job and didn’t get it. A few weeks later, you notice that the position is still open. Feel free to try again! Take note of what went wrong the first time and try to correct it this time around. This shows initiative and your ability to develop and grow.
16. Turn Negatives Into Positives
We all have weaknesses, and employers want to know about them. Just remember: A weakness can become a strength if you spin it right. For example, one of your weaknesses could be procrastination. Despite that, you always make your deadlines and produce excellent work, even under pressure.
Whatever your weaknesses may be, use them to your advantage. Show that even though you make mistakes, you know how to turn them around and improve both yourself and your work.
17. Focus on Accomplishments
Acknowledging your accomplishments will help you stand out. You might not have 10 years of experience, but if you can prove that your team doubled its sales in one year, it can make a huge difference in how a potential employer views you.
18. Stand Out From the Rest
You can do this in a number of ways, such as sending in a portfolio of previous work or creating a presentation that acts as your cover letter. These and other unique moves will help employers and hiring managers remember you and your work.
19. Be Confident
Confidence matters during the interview, and it’s important in everything from offering straightforward answers to questions to having a good handshake. Thirty-three percent of hiring managers say they’ve eliminated candidates from the running because they had bad posture. Confidence has to infuse your every move during the job hunt.
20. Be Engaged
Hiring manages want to know that you are listening and interested in what they have to say. Be engaged. Ask questions, nod to show you are listening, and maintain eye contact.
One of the best ways to show you’re engaged is by being proactive. Browse the organization’s website, read reviews, and scroll through its social pages. Learn the company’s history and the mission and values it is built on. This information will give you ideas for questions to ask that show the hiring team you mean business. There’s nothing more impressive than someone who shows up prepared and ready to tackle any obstacles ahead.
A version of this article originally appeared on the ClearCompany blog.
Sara Pollock is head of the marketing department at ClearCompany.