I recently attended The National Resume Writers’ Association’s annual conference, where I learned of this startling statistic. While I always knew that having an internal company contact was MUCH more effective than applying to open jobs, even I was surprised by this low number. This information was first shared at the Career Thought Leaders conference, where it was provided by Gerry Crispin of Career Xroads (an author of the annual Source of Hire report).
So, does this mean job seekers shouldn’t use job boards anymore? Not in my opinion. They exist for a reason, and I have had many clients get positions this way. However, many, many more have found their roles through a contact, so it makes sense to spend more time and energy on networking than applying online.
Still, if you find a position online that you’d like to apply for (and you don’t have a company contact), you can increase your chances of getting an interview. This can be done by:
- Making sure you have at least 75% of the qualifications: By taking a less-is-more approach, and only applying to those positions for which you are truly a fit, you’ll save time and be more likely to receive an interview.
- Optimizing your resume for keywords: Online resumes are often first screened using Applicant Tracking Systems (ATS). Typically, an HR employee will put in hard skills and industry-specific terms that apply to the job. While only the company knows what those keywords will be, the job ad can provide clues. Review each description to make sure that all relevant qualifications you possess are included in your resume.
- Sending a copy by snail mail: You’ll still need to apply online, but get an extra edge by sending a hard copy. This is rarely done anymore, which is why those that use this method are almost guaranteed to get their resumes read.
- Following up: If it’s a confidential ad (no company listed) or it says “no calls,” this strategy doesn’t apply. However, those that follow up get their name heard one more time than the hundreds who have applied online – even if you only end up leaving a voicemail. More often than not, you can find someone in your target department through a Google search, reviewing the company’s About Us page, or even just calling the main number.
If you’re going to apply online, give these methods a shot – what do you have to lose?