How to Beat the Odds During Your Job Search

Applying to hundreds of jobs online isn’t the best solution for landing an interview or job. So why do you spend so much time doing this?

Less than 50% of hires come from job boards:

Finding a job online and applying is relatively painless, or less painful than networking, so that might explain why so many job seekers find themselves defaulting to the job boards.

However, these account for less than half of all external hires according to multiple studies.

75% of resumes don’t make it through the ATS:

Applicant tracking systems are flawed. They often knock out qualified candidates based how your resume is formatted and the words you use. an estimated 75 percent of candidates are knocked out of the running due to formatting inconsistencies and key words. So why would a company use an ATS if they may miss out on a candidate? Because the average job posting receives 50-100 applications according to CareerXroads’ Sources of Hire study. Often this isn’t the only open job they are trying to fill – learn how to play the ATS game by reading “Meet the Robots Reading Your Resume“.

Your odds of landing an interview based on blindly submitting an online application are slim at best. So is there a better way?

Proactive targeting:

Many career coaches and job search experts recommend creating a list of target companies you would like to work for. This allows you to identify people you know (or don’t know YET) within these target companies so you can networking, especially if there aren’t any jobs posted.

Yes, some hiring managers will always be on the look out for great talent, whether they have an opening or not. But an even better reason is that jobs are posted internally before they are posted publicly.

Do the two-step – find a job, find a contact:

The reality is, life gets in the way. You can’t always be as proactive. And let’s face it, sometimes, it feels good to find a job and apply. So for those of you who are using the job boards, heed this advice.

Let’s say you find the perfect job on a job board. Your first instinct is to submit your online application and resume- stop. Don’t do that yet.

Go to the company’s career site and check the job out. Look for contact information or clues about who the hiring manager might be.

Now go over to LinkedIn and search for the contact’s name or job title of the likely hiring manager. If you do find a the person’s profile on LinkedIn, you probably won’t be connected. How will you reach out to them?

One option, if you don’t have a premium LinkedIn account is to see what groups the hiring manager belongs to (if you can) and join one of the groups. This will allow you to engage in a conversation they are in within the group or send an invitation to connect on LinkedIn.

Another option is to Google the name and look for their account on an open social network like Google+ or Twitter, where you can reach out to them without restriction. If you can’t find the hiring manager anywhere, look for someone in the company who you could reach out to using those same steps.

Your short invitation to connect or outreach should peek their interest. You can do this by referencing a shared interest (personal or professional), or referencing something in their profile or status update. You want to cone across as interesting or likeable, not a desperate job seeker.

Make the connections:

It is awkward, uncomfortable and perhaps even ill-advised to immediately jump to asking for their help getting the job. Before your new “best friend” is willing to help you, they have to know and/or trust you.

Flattery will get you everywhere, as long as it is genuine. Asking for advice is usually well-received. Ask how they like working for the company, how long they’ve been there, how they landed their job.

Increase your chances by 40% – get referred:

Now that you have established rapport with a company insider, it is now time to ask if their company has a referral program. If the company does, you should know there are financial incentives for the employee if you are hired. Referred candidates are twice as likely to be interviewed and 40 percent more likely to be hired according to Bank of New York’s research.

Let your contact know what job you are interested in and keep your fingers crossed that your contact is willing to be a referral. If not, they may still be willing to be an informant, someone who can keep you up to date on where the company is in filling the position.

The key to your success is making the company insider feel good about the exchange. Did you make them feel like they helped you? This is up to you. Show your gratitude and appreciation by sending them a thank you. And, by all means, be sure you keep them in the loop about your candidacy.

By Hannah Morgan

Hannah Morgan provides no-nonsense help for new job seekers. She provides advice and serves as a guide to traverse the treacherous terrain of today's economy by focusing on pro-active strategies for job search and leveraging social networks. Career Sherpa is one of many outlets where Hannah shares her information. Follow Hannah on Twitter @careersherpa!