Have you been diligently sending job applications, but not receiving any interview calls? You’re not alone.
Many job seekers become frustrated and discouraged when they apply for jobs and are left to wonder why they were not contacted for an interview. The hiring process, especially for larger companies, can be quite complex, and there are many factors at play. I spoke with two alumni recruiters to get insights into the aspects of the process that may not be apparent to candidates.
Here’s your exclusive peek behind the scenes into the world of hiring from Krystle Curran, AS’08, MS’09, Senior Recruiter at Parexel, with 10 years of recruiting experience; and, Lindsay Broderick, DMSB’13, with eight years of recruiting experience, currently as a recruiting manager with Amazon Devices and Services, and previously with John Hancock Financial Services.
What you might be missing
- Competition is tough – Employers receive a large volume of resumes, and while you may be qualified, the process is competitive. Candidates should understand receiving more rejections or “not interested” emails than interview requests is common when applying online.
- There may be internal candidates – Sometimes, managers may have internal candidates in mind or internal candidates surface after the position has been posted. Employers want to create advancement opportunities for current employees and hiring internally can also save training costs.
- Things might have changed since the job was posted – Changes in resources and business needs are fairly common in large companies. Many companies are enhancing efficiencies, and one primary way is by offshoring jobs. There may also have been changes to preferred qualifications after the screening process began.
- Employee referrals – As many as one third of applications may come from employee referrals, and many companies have programs to encourage and financially reward referrals. Research has shown that employee referrals help companies save on hiring time and costs.
- Employers might be looking for specific skills – While many job postings ask for a broader range of skills than what’s needed for the position, a manager may focus on a more particular skill set.
- You might be overqualified – Recruiters vary in their approach with overqualified candidates. Some may want to have a screening call with a candidate who appears overqualified, while others may not, assuming there might not be a good fit, or when it’s perceived that the candidate does not plan to stay in the job for the long term.
What you need to be doing
All is not lost! You can still get to your dream job by being more strategic in your application. Here are some pointers to help you overcome these hurdles:
- Resume keywords are key for a reason – Most companies use automatic hiring processes to shortlist candidates. Using resume keywords that match the job description can help your resume pass through applicant tracking systems. Career changers will especially benefit from tailoring their resume to the job description and demonstrating transferable skills.
- Both the resume and cover letter matter – Busy recruiters may focus on resumes rather than cover letters, but managers may be interested in reading cover letters instead. Make sure you give due diligence to both documents.
- Show your impact – Demonstrate accomplishments and results on your resume, instead of merely describing your job duties. Hiring managers will assume you can do the job, which is why you applied. To stand out, show them why your experience is better than other candidates.
- Keep your social channels updated – These days, a social media presence is almost expected, depending on your field. Make sure to keep your LinkedIn updated and include the details about your jobs, as many employers use it to source candidates.
- Leverage your network – Build your network and let your contacts know that you have applied for a job at their company. They may be able to put in a good word for you to help land an interview and benefit from employee referral programs. Spend 75% of your job search efforts on networking, as you are more likely to get feedback about your qualifications and insights into companies. Conduct informational interviews with alumni and others at companies of interest. Use NUsource, our alumni networking platform.
- Stay within a field – If you apply to multiple jobs within a company, they should be related positions, such as all marketing and communications jobs. Applying for different types of jobs is viewed negatively.
- Have realistic expectations – Assess whether you may be overqualified or underqualified both in terms of competencies as well as years of required experience.
- Get a gut check – Get feedback from professionals, recruiters, and career coaches to assess whether you’re applying for appropriate positions. Assess the effectiveness of your efforts and adjust your job search accordingly.
Remember that even the act of applying is a part of the learning process, even if you don’t get an interview. Recruiters may (and do) keep your resume on file for future positions. Build your resilience and get support to stay positive. It’s common to feel discouraged without adequate information. Avoid taking things personally so that you can stay motivated in your search.
Chin up, and good luck!
Michele Rapp is the Associate Director of Alumni Career Strategy in Northeastern’s Office of Alumni Relations.