Getting your foot in the door | The challenges of landing the interview
Application after application, and all you seem to be getting is automated rejection emails and a deafening silence. So what's the problem? Here are a few tips about landing that all important interview.
Pick your audience.
Recruiters and HR managers can spot an unfocused application from a mile off. Severe sore thumbs. Don't just spam the job boards with your CV in the hope that something sticks. Even if you do get an interview, you're leaving yourself with a lot of leg work. Instead, dedicate a bit more time to be specific. Pick the company and pick the role.
Of course, you might know where you want to work, but be unsure about how to find the opportunities. There are many job boards out there for the mainstream to the obscure and they are always going to be worth a look. There are even job boards that specialise in specific sectors or job types so try looking beyond the obvious. And one step further is the company's website itself. A lot of companies advertise directly on their site, and this is one of the best places to find the right role for you. Not to mention that, if you can get into conversation with the HR team about a specific role, you have the opportunity to put your name in their minds. But don't overdo it. You don't want to irritate!
The most important thing is that you have to go for each application 100%. Show them that that is the job you want and they're the company you want to work for.
Confidence (with a hint of realism).
It's very important to be confident about your abilities, specifically the ones that are going to align to a role and give you the best chance to get into the interview room. You're great and you should know it! However, you will consistently suffer rejection if you misjudge their expectations. For example, if the description lists that they are looking for someone with a Master's degree, don't take a punt with only A-Levels and hope that they just happen to think your CV is brilliant regardless. Success in these cases are lottery winner stories, and nine times out of ten, the person who is rejecting you isn't looking at the rest of your CV. They're just making sure they don't waste their boss' time with candidates that don't fit the criteria.
Pick the right job at the right time, and know that you are perfect for it.
N.B. Don't be put off if there is one specific thing you don't have. Use that as an opportunity to show how keen you are to learn. The cover letter is the place to do it!
For your eyes only.
As with every part of your application, you want your CV to tell the employer just how much you want to work for them. There are a number of key aspects to this.
You took the time to check the entire thing and its perfect. Not even one comma out of place.
The layout is pristine - clean and tidy, and easy for whoever's vetting to read quickly. Save them time and they might give you time.
No more that two pages. Ever. Never Ever. You can have a one page if you want, but never three.
The process is often automated for large employers so make sure the buzz words are in there. Don't make it too obvious but you're going to want to tailor it to that specific application. Otherwise you might not beat the robots out there.
And what about that cover letter?
The cover letter is often the first thing the hirer will read (or skim at least) so it's your first chance to make a good impression. A few tips:
Don't overdo it. Don't under do it. Write just enough to attract their attention, but not so much it feels tedious.
Matter of fact and to the point. Keep to the specific reasons why you want the job and why you should get it. What is it about that company/job that made you apply?
Address it properly. "Dear Sir or Madam," shows that you know how to present yourself in writing and will put you in good stead with the hiring manager.
Stand out from the crowd.
It's tough to do, but if you have something special like a hobby or unique skill, make sure you highlight it. You going to want to be memorable, which is easy enough in person, but remember, right now, you are a piece of paper amongst 200 other pieces of paper!
**Don't stand out for the wrong reasons: by which I mean that public Facebook photo of you passed out on the pavement outside a club in Magaluf. We've all done it, but I don't think it's going to help with your application if the hiring manager happens to go looking!