The job market is tougher than it has been in a long while, with unemployment rates being the highest in over four years.
Jobs are few and far between and there is so much competition out there for each role. This can feel incredibly disheartening when you are applying week-on-week and either only getting rejections or not getting any feedback at all!
As someone who recruits for Customer Service and Admin positions (which are widely regarded as positions that ‘anyone can do’), I have noticed an influx in applications from people who are either highly suitable, not suitable, or just extremely over-qualified.
Having spoken to many people who are job seeking, I have gathered some information and come up with some tips to help you stand out from the crowd. Here are my top tips to help get you to the interview stage…
1. Read the job description thoroughly!
Don’t just apply for the sake of applying! Use the job description to understand whether this is a position you should actually spend your precious time and energy applying for.
Do they need a particular qualification, skill, or experience that you don’t have, or are they flexible? Are they asking for a quality that you possess but don’t have on your CV? Make a quick edit to your CV or cover letter so that it compliments this job description and makes you look like the ideal candidate.
That being said though, never lie on your CV. 9 times out of 10 you will be found out and this is awkward and embarrassing for both you and the hiring manager. If you do have any confusion about what the job description says or your suitability for the role, see if you can email or call the company and check whether it is worth you applying or not/ if you would be a desirable candidate to them. Saves time on both sides in the long-run.
2. Have different versions of your CV.
Dependent on the particular job you are applying for, your CV will need to be tailored a certain way.
If it’s an admin role, emphasise your administrative duties in your most recent role if you haven’t done a purely admin role recently. Spell it out for the hiring manager and don’t just assume they will know that you have done admin as part of your role.
Your CV is your passport to your next job so it needs to clearly state your abilities. If you were a project manager looking to get into an admin job for example, maybe have one ‘admin’ CV and one ‘project management’ CV.
3. Don’t underestimate the power of a cover letter to highlight transferable skills.
As CVs are only really supposed to be 2-4 pages long, why not include a cover letter so you can go into more depth as to why you are the most suitable applicant for the position. In my experience, this is particularly successful if you are trying to move into a slightly different role than you did previously so that you can accentuate your transferable skill set.
It may be a case of going for any kind of paid job as a necessity right now until the employment market picks back up. This could be where you need to look to your more ‘soft skills’ such as teamwork and customer service in order to find a temporary or contract role until you can get back into your usual area of work.
An article by Forbes states that “Britain’s retail sector is one of the areas identified by the research as in particular need of soft skills for its success.” It may be worth transferring your skills into a different environment such as retail as an example.
4. Reach out to people.
If you know a friend of a friend that works in a company that you would like to work for or have noticed a vacancy in, why not pop them a message to see if they can help you?
Most people are more than happy to direct you to the right person or put in a positive word for you, the worst they can say is no. What does it hurt to ask? Our motto is “People in property. It’s who you know” and that ex-colleague of yours may be your ticket to getting shortlisted for an interview or just having an initial chat with someone at the company you are looking to join.
5. Keep a spreadsheet/ list.
Update this with all the jobs you have applied for and the closing dates for the applications. This will keep you organised so you know what you applied for and when you might expect to hear back.
It will also mean that you will not duplicate your application accidentally. More importantly, you will also know when to send a follow-up email or give the company a call to check where they are at with the hiring for this role/to introduce yourself and possibly sell yourself into the job!
There is a misconception that you should not contact hiring managers to check the status of your job application. As long as you are not hounding them, there is no harm in seeing whether they are still recruiting for the position or not. Once you know, you can update your list or spreadsheet with the status of your application.
6. Get a recruiter to help you with your job search
There are many recruitment consultancies/ agencies with various specialisms, from very niche roles to covering a bit of everything and anything. Depending on your profession or job goals, have a look at which recruitment agencies are posting jobs that fit what you are looking for and get in touch with them to see if you can be registered as a candidate.
Whilst recruiters cannot work magic, we will be there in the background looking for jobs for you, whilst you also look for jobs yourself, so it is effectively double the job search productivity! Recruitment consultants have knowledge of companies and what they are looking for so will potentially be able to use their pre-existing relationships to help recommend you to their clients/ hiring managers.
Once you get tet call or email to say that you are shortlisted and that the hiring manager would like to see you for an interview, that is step one complete. Of course, it is up to you to then prepare and give the interview of your life in order to secure the job.
I am hopeful that these tips will lead you one step closer to an interview and that you have enough skill and self-belief to show the hiring manager why you should be their next hire.
Keep going with those applications and, even if it takes longer than usual, you will eventually secure your next role. Whether that be your forever position or just employment to keep you going until the market bounces back.
There are many free sources available online to help you sharpen your employability and interview skills whilst you search for work. The Gov website is just one source offering free advice and guidance.