Today’s job market is extra challenging, and it can seems next to impossible to even get an interview—video or otherwise. I spoke with someone recently who had applied for 400 jobs and only had one interview.
No question, it is tough out there, no matter how good you are. But there are ways you can avoid some of the pitfalls that take hold early in the job application process and prevent you from ever moving closer to a recruiter or hiring manager.
These five things can kill your chances of getting that longed-for conversation with a company:
1. You’re unfocused
It’s tempting to cover a wide swatch in your job search, and apply for any position you might conceivably be a fit for. In this tougher-than-nails job market, this far-ranging approach might seem to make sense.
But applying for everything in sight means that many of the jobs you apply for don’t align with your qualifications. Sure, you can customize your résumé for each job. But the hard reality is that you can’t fake it this way.
There are only a limited number of jobs that you’re the ideal candidate for. So search those out via job boards or word of mouth, and apply for them. And make sure there are enough of them to give you a good crack at getting a job. This will not only focus your search, but it will focus your thinking when you prepare your résumé and cover letter.
2. You don’t optimize your résumé
Another miss can happen early on when you don’t embed key words into the résumé. Over 90% of companies use machines to screen résumés, and 75 % of résumés are rejected because they don’t have certain key words.
“Every résumé you submit should have specifics that trigger a positive response from the applicant testing system,” says Chris Rodgers, CEO of Colorado SEO Pros. “This system is looking for words that relate to specific skill sets in the jobs being advertised. For example, in a junior finance position, an employer might list a specific finance software that it wants a candidate to be well-versed in.”
Rodgers says “If you see this software required in the jobs you’re applying for, that’s a clue this is a key word you should work into your résumé.” And don’t mention it just once. Rodgers explains: “That key word should appear in the top of your résumé as part of your profile, as well as in the body of your résumé.”
The ATS is very literal in what it’s looking for, so don’t try to be creative or use acronyms. If you put down that you have an MBA, or are a CFA the machine won’t necessarily recognize these credentials unless you also spell out these abbreviations.
3. Your LinkedIn doesn’t align
LinkedIn can be a great asset in your job search, but only if it aligns with your ideal job description, your cover letter, and résumé. If your profile doesn’t align, Rodgers says, “You’ll be sending the message that ‘I’m just looking for a job and even though I customized my résumé for you, in reality it’s just one of a dozen things I’m out there looking for.'”
Another reason your LinkedIn profile should align with these documents is that recruiters are constantly using LinkedIn SEO, scanning for key words that uncover ideal candidates. If your LinkedIn description conveys key words that were in your ideal job description, cover letter, and résumé, chances are higher that you’ll be picked up by recruiters for a job you’re suited for.
So make sure your LinkedIn profile aligns, and for the best results, make sure it features a professional photo and strong posts. A prospective employer will take notice of all this.
4. Your social media raises red flags
Social media can wreck havoc with your job search if your Twitter, Instagram, or Facebook accounts present an inappropriate or conflicting image of you.
Remember, the goal is to have your entire profile—cover letter, résumé, LinkedIn profile, and other social media accounts—all convey one clear and consistent professional image of you. Keep in mind that any prospective employer will likely look at all your social media and see if the image of you supports your professional goals.
5. Your profile is not Google-worthy
A final way to hurt your chances of getting a job interview is to have a Google identity that turns employers off. Google has its own résumé of you, and you’ll want to make sure it projects your “brand” properly.
Google yourself, and see what comes up. If nothing, then you’re in trouble. Any prospective employer would see this as a shortcoming. In fact CareerBuilder research has shown that 47% of employers are less likely to interview a candidate whose Google search turns up nothing.
A good Google profile of you will show all the important dimensions of your professional image, drawn from LinkedIn and social media sites. If you want your Google “résumé” to be complete, use the same name everywhere you “publish” information about yourself. For example, you don’t want to use Barbara Thomas on your resume, Barbara S. Thomas on LinkedIn, Barb Thomas on Twitter, and BB Thomas on Instagram. This will confuse your audience and fragment your visibility. Instead, use one name and one title to keep things consistent.