If you’re job hunting, you know how stressful it can be. A survey from Pew Research Center found that 53% of respondents felt like they lost a piece of their identity during the process.
That’s not so surprising: from initial screening calls to multiple rounds of interviews where it feels like the world and its wife want to get a look at you (and they’re not impressed), the whole thing can be bewildering, head-wrecking, not to mention really exhausting.
You might be wondering what exactly is the correct thing to do at each stage, and worrying about what may blow your chances. It can be really hard to navigate what is often a very opaque process when you’re essentially in the dark a lot of the time.
Consider Seinfeld’s George Costanza, who, totally frustrated when applying for a job at the New York Yankees, decided to do a complete 180 on how he’d normally approach a job interview. Costanza, played with aplomb by Jason Alexander, turned up in an old anorak, took digs at his old boss and generally threw the rule book out the window. And yes, he got the job.
Or look at The Office’s Dwight Schrute, who tried to make sure he was covering all bases in a job interview by providing three CVs: his professional resume, one covering his athletic and special skills, and of course, one containing essential Dwight Schrute trivia.
“I am ready to face any challenges that might be foolish enough to face me”, was his logic.
We’re not sure we’d recommend either approach––but both speak strongly to the frustrations experienced by job applicants.
Get a new job now
January is one of the most popular months of the year to look for a new job, and if you had a festive period epiphany about your current role, you may be keen to make a move sooner rather than later.
So what can you do to speed up the process? Typically, studies have found that it can take between three to six months from start to finish to get a job, and you only have an 8.3% chance of getting an interview from one job application.
So, you need to get strategic. Here’s how.
1. Define your wants and needs
Start off by asking yourself some tough questions: where do you want to work, what work style do you want––hybrid, remote, or in office––what sort of company you’d like to work for, and what is your baseline for salary and benefits? Can you see yourself relocating, or are there specific industries that are no-nos (defence or pharmaceuticals for example), and what job title would you like?
Once you establish these essential elements for your job hunt, stick to them. Don’t apply for roles that don’t meet these criteria––you’re simply wasting your own time.
2. Finesse your CV
Secondly, work on a master document for both your CV and cover letter. Create a base document for each, which should contain a précis of your skills, experience and qualifications, and then create a copy for each role you apply to.
In the case of your CV, each individualised version should be edited to highlight relevant qualifications and experience that pertain to this role. You should also use keywords from the job description.
This is crucial because most online applications are assessed using applicant tracking systems (ATS) which will filter CVs based on those keywords––this is how they work out if your skills are a good fit.
And with nearly 98% of Fortune 500 companies filtering candidates this way, you need to get with the programme, because this is one key way to fast track your way through a recruitment process.
3. Get organised
The next element to help amp up your job search is being super-organised. If you treat getting a job just like any other workplace task, you’re more likely to succeed.
Either use productivity software such as Trello or Monday.com to track your progress across job applications, or create a spreadsheet.
Either method is fine, it just needs to be a way that works for you where you can add and update objectives such as goals, timelines, interview dates, key contact information and any other aspects you’d like to measure.
4. Use AI – wisely
Generative AI has been a bit of a game-changer for job applicants. In fact, recent data has found that those in the US and the UK are applying to about 15% more roles than they were a year ago.
The rapid introduction and adoption of generative AI may be playing a part in this as tools such as ChatGPT allow you to do a whole host of handy job-related things.
From helping with cover letter templates (which you can then customise to fit), to helping you to identify and match keywords from job advertisements to its research capabilities, there are many things Gen AI can help job seekers with, ultimately speeding up some of the more tedious parts of the process.
We would be remiss however, if we didn’t point out that any output from an AI will need careful editing. In ChatGPT’s case, its data set ends in 2021, so it is operating with data that can be out of date in some cases.
AI also gets things wrong, just as humans do, so oversight is always needed before you hit send on that application for your dream role.
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