How to increase your job prospects when applying for jobs online
Submitting your CV online only is as effective in helping you land the job as dropping a bottle into the ocean and having it picked up by your soulmate. You lose track of what you applied to, who you contacted, what jobs you prioritize over others, and end up giving up.
I get it, applying for jobs sucks. I hate doing it. You hate doing. Meryl Streep hates doing it. Oh wait, she doesn’t need to apply for jobs. I got news for you, you’re not Meryl. BUT with this guide you’ll be turning down multiple offers with elegance and grace and look agelessly beautiful doing it (your actual appearance may vary).
Step 1: Create a job application tracking tool
This baby will help you keep track of what you applied to, the date, the URL of the position, the contact person, and other info you may wish to add. Keeping track will help you not get lost in the process, highlight positions you’re extra excited about, and keep track of your follow ups.
In fact, we created one just for you! Click here to download my patented (not really), ultra effective (it’s fairly simple), super organized excel sheet.
Here’s what it looks like
Step 2: Don’t boil the ocean
Prioritize the jobs you want to apply for. Seems obvious? Yes because it is. A common mistake that job seekers make is applying to every job they see without undertaking proper due diligence. More important than the quantity of applications you do, is the quality of applications you submit. Each job application requires a custom cover letter and potentially a custom CV. Recruiters can quickly spot candidates applying for the sake of applying, versus those who are serious about their pursuit of the position.
Find a way to spin your experience in a way that matches the position’s requirements. Make sure your cover letter isn’t longer than a page or about 600 words. Remember what you write in your cover letter because you’ll need it in step 4.
Find job postings on the company website or places like Indeed, Workopolis, Jobboom, Stepstone or one you may know about (leave it in the comments!). They are all effective at what they do: Showing job postings. Don’t forget to note how long ago the position has been listed. Jobs that have been posted for more than three months might signal that recruiters and positions supervisors are having a hard time filling the position. That is important as it means they may be more open to direct calling (good for you), or that this is a future opportunity.
Step 3: Start populating that list
The bigger your list is the better. The more positions you have in there, the more hope you have about the future. If one application doesn’t work out, just take a look at your nice long list and you will have something else to look forward to. Keeping your attitude positive is essential and this list does exactly that.
Step 4: Find the supervisor of the position you applied to
Skip HR. You might as well talk to Siri about your hopes and dreams because HR have ZERO bearing on whether or not you get hired. Your future manager does. Find their profile on LinkedIn. This will give you greater insight into who they are and allow you to gain a better understanding of the role’s requirements. In many cases your future manager was once playing the role you are applying for.
Step 5: The Call: “Hi is Mr. Gates there?”
The purpose of this call is to develop a relationship with your potential supervisor. By talking to you on the phone, they can gauge how excited you are about the position; better evaluate your qualifications and communication skills; and hopefully even glance over your CV and give you feedback. This will also get them invested in your candidacy and potentially push to get you an interview.
The way the call proceeds is also important. Call the front desk and ask to speak to the person you need. You MUST mention them by name. If asked for the purpose of your call, just say you’re following up on an email you sent them. Do NOT say your applying for jobs.
I cannot stress this enough. REHEARSE YOUR CALL. Write down the flow of the conversation on a sheet of paper and have it in front of you when you call. Think of it as a conversation flow chart. This will help eliminate filler words (Ums and Uhs) on the phone and take the conversation to where you want it to go. Things you want to Research before the call:
- The project you anticipate you will be working on from day one
- The role of your future supervisor and make sure you use key words
- The timeline of project/product
After presenting yourself and your title on the phone, explain that you applied to a specific role, how you’re compatible with the role, how you plan to add value. Be sure to ask them questions too. Things like:
- What they do on the project or in the company
- What the duties of the candidate are specifically in the context of the project
- The profile and number of the people you would be working with
- Company culture questions like social events and lifestyle associated with the job
The end goal of the conversation is to convince the supervisor that you are worth looking into individually and for them to request to see your CV personally. Don’t be too shy to ask that. For example:
“If you don’t mind, I could email you my CV. I can briefly summarize our conversation and you have a better look at my qualifications. Would that be ok with you?”
If they say yes, you’re set. They might forward it to HR and put in a good word. They might request you be interviewed sooner than others. People appreciate a go getter who takes initiative, proves themselves as an effective communicator, and speaks clearly and eloquently on the phone. If they don’t say yes, don’t sweat it. People are busy, they would help if they could. Don’t insist and be sure to thank them for their time and for answering your questions.
Step 6: Summarize your interaction and send a thank you email
Send a “thank you” email to the person you spoke to. Include the documents and information you agreed to send and mention you will follow up with them in a week or so.
In your list, note down who you spoke to and the outcome of the conversation. This will help you keep track and not repeat conversations or questions. It will also keep your follow up call or email concise and to the point.
Step 7: Repeat until employed.
Or until you do it so much you write a blog post about it!