LookApplying for jobs can be a long process — filling out the pages of personality questions and other candidate information isn’t easy, not to mention the applicant tracking system (ATS) you must contend with.

Don’t fret: there are tips and tricks you can use to help you through it! There are certain things you need to know about the job search in order to land that great new position.

Your Application

Eighty percent of job seekers use job boards to find new employment opportunities. However, only 18 percent of jobs are filled externally. Job boards are best used to understand the kinds of roles companies are looking for.

When you begin your job search and you see an open position, the first thing you should do is fill out the application – if there is one. Be honest on your application, and follow the directions to fill out the application completely. Not filling out an application in its entirety demonstrates an inability to follow directions, which is not a desirable quality in any employee.

Your Resume

Resumes should be tailored to the company you’re applying for. This doesn’t mean you should falsify information; rather, you should strategically target your experiences to the organization. Since a recruiter is only going to scan your resume for a total of 6 seconds, you have to make the most of what little time you have. Most likely, a recruiter will only see your resume if it passes through the ATS first. Attention to detail in the following areas will determine whether your resume is one of the 70 percent of resumes that doesn’t make it through the ATS, or if it’s of high enough quality to land on a recruiter’s desk:

  • Cover letter: Some companies still require a cover letter. They are good preliminary indicators of cultural match to the organization, so feel free to put a little personality into your cover letter. Most importantly: don’t use the same cover letter twice. It just won’t feel genuine.
  • Presentation: Because resumes go through an ATS most of the time, you can’t use pictures, borders, or fancy fonts. The ATS simply won’t pick up the information. Is your resume well organized? Is it readable? If a recruiter can’t easily scan and read your resume, you’ll lose those precious 6 seconds.
  • Grammar: In this case, spell check alone is not your friend. You can’t rely on it to catch common errors like “there” versus “they’re” or “their.” Proofreading your resume before a recruiter sees it is critical, because if you don’t take the time to catch the errors, they will be the first things recruiters see.
  • Qualifications: An ATS will scan your resume – which is why proper presentation is so important – for keywords and key phrases that determine if you are, in fact, qualified for the job.

Your Interview

Recruiters and hiring managers use the interview to solidify your qualifications and to determine the cultural match between you, the job, and the organization. Some of the biggest mistakes candidates can make during the interview process are easily avoidable. Be engaged during the interview. Don’t be one of those candidates who answer phone calls during the interview. Simply turn your phone off, even if you use it as a clock. Wear a watch to the interview instead.

You’re searching for a new job for a reason; whether you’re doing so because your current employer isn’t challenging you enough or you just don’t like the company you work for, never talk negatively about your previous – or current – organization. This is the fourth most common mistake candidates make during the interview. Badmouth a former or current employer makes you seem negative, and employers won’t want you bringing your negativity to their offices.

Your application, resume, and interview all have a say in your success as a job candidate. Together, these pieces function as a drip process: in order to have a successful interview, you need a quality resume; to get your resume in front of a recruiter, you need to meet the minimum qualifications on the application. As a job candidate, you have to give the entire process your all, because every piece is intertwined. Put your best foot forward from the beginning — not just at the interview.

What mistakes have you made during the hiring process?

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