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Help! I Can’t Seem to Get Interviews!

I often get asked by friends who are job searching (they know I’m a Hiring Manager) why they aren’t having any luck with getting interviews. They’re sending out lots of resumes for lots of positions but keep striking out.

There can be many reasons for this and without knowing details it’s difficult to give them advice. However, there are two things I can always suggest right away that they correct if they apply to them. I’ll cover a myriad of other reasons in other posts, but for now these are by far the most important.

Both of these things were reinforced in my mind recently when I was assisting other Hiring Managers in my organization with screening resumes and interviewing applicants.

Here are the first two things that, if you are doing them, I suggest you correct before applying to any more positions: (1) Using a scatter-gun approach to your job search, and (2) Not customizing your resume for each job to which you apply.

First, let’s talk about what I call the scatter-gun approach to job searching.

What I mean by this is applying for a large number of positions without regard to whether or not you closely fit the qualifications. It’s always tempting to assume that if you throw enough resumes and applications out there some will stick and result in an interview. Consequently, many people will apply for dozens of job openings for which they may have few or no qualifications.

The theory here is that job searching is a numbers game and the more jobs you apply for, the better your chances of landing an interview. Unfortunately, the reality is this is almost a complete waste of time.

Even though the job market is very good right now in many areas, employers are getting more and more sophisticated in their screening techniques. And since they’re having to pay higher salaries now to get qualified applicants, they want to make sure those applicants are truly qualified before they waste their time with an interview.

This means that the scatter-gun approach, which rarely worked in the past, is even less likely to work today.

You will be much more successful in getting interviews if you use the more focused approach of applying to openings for which you have competitive qualifications.

Not Customizing Your Resume for Each Job to Which You Apply

This goes hand-in-hand with not using a scatter-gun approach. To make your job search more focused, you’ll need to spend a good chunk of your job search time customizing your resume and cover letter so that they give the impression they were created exclusively for each job to which you apply.

This means taking the time to go over each individual required qualification in the job posting. Then, you must address each one in your resume by matching it with your specific skills, experience and accomplishments.

This also means you will be applying for fewer jobs but with a much higher likelihood of getting an interview. Applying to 10 jobs in this manner will give much better results than using a scatter-gun approach to apply for 50 jobs. The time spent will likely be about the same but with far better results.

I read several hundred resumes a year, many of which are obviously generic and have little to do with my desired job qualifications. But there are a few of these – perhaps ten percent or less – which are written to closely match the requirements of the position and appear to be custom-made for my opening.

These are the resumes I read most carefully and the ones that are put in my “to interview” stack.

Follow this advice and you’ll increase the odds that one of them will be yours.

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