I am continually disheartened by the number of my students/graduates who give up after their first ‘no’. When did we stop teaching determination or good ole fashioned stick to it? According to research 80% of sales are made on or after the 5th contact; however most folks give up after the 2nd attempt. How does this relate to finding a job? How many applications on average do you need to send out before you get the call? You can find research that states anywhere from 3 applications to 50 applications are what it takes to get the elusive interview. The point I want to make is you don’t stop! You can’t! In today’s economy there are literally hundreds of thousands of folks looking for work.
I don’t believe the key to success is the quantity of applications but the quality of what you are submitting.
- Have you filled out the application completely? Accuracy and attention to detail are so important. Never put ‘see resume’ on your application. Most systems for filtering applications are automated. The systems are looking for specific key words on your application. If you don’t use those keywords your resume will never make it to human eyes.
- How do I know what key words to use: Hint – look under the section of the job posting that states ‘required skills’. If they are required you can be pretty sure they will be looking for those exact words and phrases on your application.
- List at least 10 years of job history. Make sure you list all your skills (including the corresponding key words). Double check to make sure your start and end dates match those on your resume.
- Make sure you have your references lined up and prepped! If you list someone on your resume, make sure they know you’ve listed them and what jobs you are applying for.
- Don’t undersell or oversell yourself in the salary section. There are great tools on Careerbuilder.com and Monster.com to calculate the salary range for positions in your geographic area. Do your research!
- Be prepared for the phone call!
- Make sure you have a professional voice mail message. Stay clear of music, your children’s voice mail message or the “hello, hello, just kidding I’m not really here” type of messages. Recruiters WILL hang up and reach out to the next candidate.
- Answer the phone with an enthusiastic upbeat voice. Hiring managers are looking for cultural fit; they want to know how you will be answering their phones so answer each call like it’s a phone interview.
- Make sure you do your research on the company and keep track. Some of the most horrifying feedback I get from employers is when the student/graduate doesn’t even know the position they applied for. If you can’t answer the question, “so tell me what you know about this position or our company”, you just lost that job.
- Spending a little extra time filling out applications and preparing for the phone interview goes a long way. It doesn’t mean you will get the first job you apply for but it will greatly increase your chances of getting the phone to ring and winning the jackpot with an in-person interview.
If most sales are completed after the 5th attempt, figure it’s going to take at least that many applications and follow-up calls to get your foot in the door. Don’t get discouraged and don’t give up. The only difference between you and someone who has landed their dream career is that they have already been told ‘no’ more times than you.
My days are filled with a revolving door of students, faculty, staff, co-workers, employers and just all the other stuff that comes along through the course of a regular work week. Every now and then, however, something truly amazing happens that deserves recognition.
I don’t know about you but my reading these days is replete with articles, research, books, etc. that fill pages with the unpreparedness of college graduates entering the workforce. They are entitled, lazy, unmotivated, uninspired, confrontational, uncommunicative, irresponsible and completely unaware of the “real world” and what it entails. Ok just to clarify, no my words, or necessarily my opinions. I work with all generations as our student body spreads the gamut of generations, of which all have their unique set of challenges.
Friday’s are normally quiet days for us here in Career Services. No students on campus with the exception of the occasional drop by, we get lots done. Today however, I was met with inspiration. I had several students stop by today asking for me to look at mission statements, final projects, resumes, etc. It took me a few students to realize they were all from the same Career Development class.
I got out of my office leaving my Friday afternoon music mix playing and walked over to the library. I was greeted not by just a few classmates but the ENTIRE class. Yes they came in to get some assistance from me and my team, but more importantly from each other. All on their own, they decided to come in on a non-class day to work TOGETHER on their final projects and get some additional help with their resumes.
Yes I said the entire class! Did it disrupt my otherwise quietly productive day, absolutely! Did I care, not at all. These moments are the ones that I crave, when a student finally comprehends a topic, aces a test and can’t wait to tell me or even when they come by to let us know they just got hired for their dream job.
In this moment I was reminded that, although our newest generation may have their unique challenges they also bring with them a brilliantly unique set of gifts and strengths. One of their gifts being that of social ability and not just on the internet, (although I bet the internet was used to achieve this scheduled grouping of merry men and women).
I guess my point is that, people may, and often do, surprise you. Don’t discount a student or a whole group of students because of their age, demographic, socio-economic standing or ethnicity. They are, as they keep telling us, individuals and should be treated as such.
I learned a valuable lesson today, there will be those who challenge you, those who disappoint you and those who may let you down. What I live for are those who surprise, amaze and inspire me to keep doing what I do to the very best of my ability. I want to be the shoulders others stand on to achieve their goals…while I watch them rise to the top.