Job Application Guide – How to Double Your Chances of Getting That Job Interview

 

Part 1. HOW TO DOUBLE YOUR CHANCES OF GETTING THAT JOB INTERVIEW

Finding a job is not easy in the modern world. While there are plenty of job postings online – Monster.com currently has over 5 million job postings– the odds of landing a job interview are not necessarily on your side.

Consider Monster.com statistics, for example. The average job posting on the site attracts around 250 applications, out of which only one candidate gets the job. This hire rate can be even worse for popular companies such as Google. The technology giant receives well over one million applications per year for its 4,000 job postings, with the hire rate falling below half of 1%.

How can you land a job on this kind of cutthroat competition?

The focus of these following posts is to guide you through the job application process and help you land your dream job. The job application guide is divided into the following sections:

In each post, you’ll learn something crucial about the application process and the skills you need to master it to a tee. We’ll start with an overview of the biggest element that could make or break your job application: the hiring funnel. What is it and how mastering it could help you double your chances of getting that job interview?

WHY LANDING A JOB INTERVIEW IS SO HARD

Before we start examining the hiring funnel in more detail, let’s consider the above figures more closely. What the hiring rates and job posting statistics are telling you is a stark story about the current job market. The positions are there but the competition for the spots has increased.

The detail is important because it has changed how applications are processed, which in turn can impact your job interview chances. What does this mean? Essentially, the applications for job postings are too many for a human to handle. Going through 250 applications would take quite a long time and companies don’t have the luxury of time on their sides. Positions need to be filled quickly to ensure the company keeps moving in the right direction.

Since applications are too many for humans to handle, technology has become a key tool for recruiters. It has come to the rescue and created a system of preliminary screening. Artificial intelligence (AI) is used in order to process the digital applications and select the ‘right’ candidates for further processing. How does the screening happen? It’s mostly done through keyword matching – the recruiter decides on desired keywords matching the job description and the AI scans the applications and resumes with the keywords in mind.

If you’re thinking this is just done on a small scale, you might be slightly shocked by the following information. Around 75% of applications are rejected during this type of AI screening and only 25% of applications get a chance to be reviewed by a human eye. If your application is rejected, it’s most likely a computer AI that thought you’re unqualified, not a human.

Why does that matter? Is it a bad idea to have keyword selection on your applications? It can actually be important because the AI might not be picking the ‘right’ candidates for the particular job. The resumes and applications that will get a second review are not necessarily from those who would have been the most qualified or suitable. The applications that move forward in the process are those that simply were able to match the right keywords.

Of course, it’s not all just about the AI. Your chances of getting that job interview don’t automatically jump up once a human recruiter looks at your application. Consider the below:

The road from browsing job postings, sending an application and being hired is not straightforward or without its hurdles. Therefore, you need to be able to navigate it correctly in order to boost your chances of being that lucky person who gets the job.

THE SINGLE THING TO BOOST YOUR CHANCES OF JOB INTERVIEW

Before the above information completely depresses you, let’s look at the solution. There is, indeed, a way to double your chances of getting to the job interview stage and that is by understanding the process of the hiring funnel. Instead of being depressed by it, you can harness it to your advantage.

The hiring funnel in a nutshell

The hiring process is always a competition – a process of finding the right candidate for the specific position on offer. You won’t just have a single person walking in one morning ready to take on the role. Instead, there is a funnel, which includes different sections and results in someone being hired for the role. It’s essentially a model of recruitment which companies will use each time they need to fill a vacancy. Now, the hiring funnel looks like this:

As the graphic shows you, you are constantly sizing down the people still part of the funnel. While you might have 1,000 people initially reading the job posting, the end will only see one lucky person being hired for the role.

The traditional hiring funnel

Traditionally, the funnel consisted of only two parts: the source and the hire part. The function of these was clear-cut:

  • The source part was about pooling the candidates. Decades ago this was mainly done through word-of-mouth and classified ads on newspapers. The idea of the source part was to alert candidates about the role.
  • The hire part was about finding the right candidate from the pool. The process consisted of the job interview, during which the candidate was quizzed about his or her skills and abilities.

The simplistic approach to the hiring funnel worked in the past because each job position had plenty of perfectly suitable candidates. These jobs weren’t as highly skilled and they didn’t require specialist knowledge or skills. For each position, companies had enough candidates to choose from.

The new version of the hiring funnel

But the job market isn’t what it was in the 60s and 70s. Globalization, increase in the use of technology, and economic volatility have dramatically altered the job market and therefore, had an impact on job postings and the available talent. What has happened to the funnel is that the hire part has narrowed in a sense – positions require fewer and more specialized people.

When you face the hiring funnel in today’s job market, you essentially have to go through five key stages. These are:

By understanding the model and the stages you need to go through in order to get that job interview, you can actually increase your chances of landing one. You’ll be more aware of what to expect, what is expected of you and how to maximize your exposure in the crowded funnel.

OPTIMIZE YOUR USE OF THE HIRING FUNNEL AND DOUBLE YOUR CHANCES OF LANDING A JOB INTERVIEW

Now that you know about the hiring funnel and the different stages in it, you need to start using it to your advantage. How can you do this? Here is a look at each of the stages and some basic pointers on how to double your chances of moving to the next stage successfully.

Employment brand

One of the most beneficial advice you can hear in terms of getting a job interview is to stop applying for jobs mindlessly. It’s understandable – being without a job, either after losing a job or once you’ve graduated, is stressful. You want to find something and fast.

However, you shouldn’t keep applying for jobs and with companies that you’re not even passionate about. The best way to get a job interview is to match your skill and career profile with the right jobs postings.

Therefore, you can have a big impact on your chances by removing yourself immediately from the wrong funnel. If you don’t do your research on the position and the company, you will end up applying for roles you won’t ever get because you don’t match.

Sourcing

Employers can use a variety of sources for finding candidates and you don’t want to rely on a single channel to get your applications across. While job portals and recruitment websites are a fantastic source for job postings, you don’t want to rely on them solely.

Where else can you land the job interview? There are two key channels to keep in mind:

Network directly with the employers and recruiters. Networking will help you get your foot through the door. Passive recruitment – contacting candidates that aren’t even looking – is an important part of the job market. You might be lucky to get an invitation or offer simply because you’ve impressed the employer or the recruiter in the past.

In addition, having someone to refer to you on the inside of the business can be helpful. It can tell the employer you’d be a right fit and that you’re trustworthy and respected by peers.

Contact employers and recruiters directly, attend career fairs and stay engaged with your industry and sector.

Use your social media to attract the right attention. You will also need to understand your social media will come under scrutiny. Not only are increasing numbers of employers finding candidates directly on social media – they even advertise job openings like this – but also using social media as part of candidate selection process.

Make sure your private social media sites are private. Your public profiles should be professional enough for employers to not run away from them. When it comes to LinkedIn or other social media profiles you use for professional purposes, you need to optimize them with keywords. Use these platforms to highlight your skills.

Candidate experience

Once you move on to the stage where you’ll engage with the actual application process, you can boost your chances of getting that job interview with a few simple tricks:

Decode the role and know what is expected of you. Read the job description carefully and do background research on what the position entails. You can often find job profiles on company websites, which can help deepen your understanding of the role. This matters because it allows you to create a job application that highlights your match with the job in question.

Instead of stating you are proficient in customer software, you can specify it based on the software the company and position requires. For example, consider the below examples:

“Experienced in customer software.”

“Two years experience in Zendesk and LivesAgent customer software.”

It’s clear the latter is more specific and will be more suited for job postings where the exact software is mentioned and used in the role description.

Understand the employer’s objectives. As well as understanding what the specific position entails, you also need to get under the skin of the employer. What does the company hope to achieve? What is its vision? Think about these questions and find a way to align your skills and passions with the aims of the organization you are applying for. You want to show in your application how you can provide them with value – make them need you on their side.

Personalize your application. It’s tried and tested advice but your job application has to be tailored – for the job posting, the employer and you as a candidate.

Be ready to apply on the go. Since the modern hiring funnel has meant sourcing takes place on a variety of channels, you need to be able to utilize them to your benefit. One of the keys to getting that job interview is availability and ability to respond to job postings and application. This means having your mobile at hand and being and able to respond to job postings on the go.

Candidate selection

In terms of the candidate selection process, you need to put your research and knowledge of the job position and the employer to good use. Your ability to understand the hiring funnel and the technologies and strategies employers employ will be crucial at this stage. The best way to boost your chances at this stage is to:

Match the application to the job posting. As briefly mentioned above, your job application must match the job postings and a big part of this includes using the right keywords. We’ll venture into keywords later on in the guide, but right now the important thing to know is that you want to match the language used in your application (including cover letter and resume) with the language used by the job posting.

Emphasize the skills the employer is looking for. Related to the above point is your ability to emphasize the skills the employer is looking for. The best way to do this is through examples. Instead of just stating you have been programming for eight years, you want to showcase where and what you’ve been programming. Consider the two examples, with the latter having a higher chance of landing a job interview:

“The ability to serve customers in a foreign language.”

“I have worked in a customer service position for two years, serving clients in both fluent English and Spanish.”

Using different communication channels to your advantage. During the selection stage, you might receive a call for an interview. In many cases, the modern job interview is actually conducted online through conference calls. You shouldn’t make the mistake of thinking the situation is the same as being interviewed face-to-face. Below are tips for mastering the use of video interviews:

Insights

Just as the companies would use information from the earlier stages to their advantage after the job application process is over, so should you. The above will improve your chances of landing that job interview but you can also learn from the times you might not be so successful. Even after the application process is over, your ability to boost those interview chances remains.

Firstly, don’t forget to take initiative. Don’t sit around and wait for the company to contact you with the interview offer. Stay active during the process; immediately after you’ve sent the application, you want to notify the recruiting agency about your application and ask them to confirm they’ve received it. Don’t harass (i.e. send multiple messages everyday) but engage.

If you do receive a rejection, understand what went wrong. Check with the recruiter and ask for any feedback – when they provide you with feedback, consider it carefully and think what you could have done differently.

Stay active and network with recruiters and companies even after the application process is over. Remember the passive recruitment channel! You might be picked for an interview even when you didn’t actually apply. Past actions, applications and behaviors matter in the job market.

THE BOTTOM LINE

When it comes to doubling your chances of getting that job interview, it really pays to understand what the job application process entails. The hiring funnel is not a complex concept and mastering it could help you create applications that are more effective and boost your chances even when you’re not applying.

The key about the modern hiring funnel is that you have the power. Not only should you be more careful in terms of the jobs and career paths you pursue, but also that you can attract positive attention from top employers even when you’re not looking for a job. You also have the power to make your applications effective – in the following sections of the guide, you’ll learn more about harnessing this power.

What do you think is the biggest factor in the modern hiring funnel that you need to focus on?

Also read other parts of the Job Application Guide

Part 2.

THE 3 LITTLE-KNOWN HIRING CRITERIA THAT MIGHT COST YOU THE JOB INTERVIEW OR OFFER

Read Part 2

Part 3.

THINGS TO CONSIDER WHEN SENDING YOUR JOB APPLICATION TO AN APPLICANT TRACKING SYSTEM (ATS)

Read Part 3

Part 4.

HOW TO WRITE A BULLETPROOF RESUME HIRING MANAGERS LOVE

Read Part 4

Part 5.

ELEMENTS OF A WINNING COVER LETTER

Read Part 5

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