Make sure you are relevant
Often, candidates will be disregarded because they do not have the exact experience or skills that match the job criteria. When applying, make sure the work experience you have on your CV is focused on responding to the requirements of the job and/or the company as closely as you possibly can. This could mean rewording the descriptions you give of the responsibilities you had in each role to play up the factors that fit more closely with what they are looking for. The job description that the company has put in their advert should give you a good idea of what they require, but this isn’t always enough. Look at other job descriptions for the same role with other companies and try to get a strong idea of the attributes that are most commonly required.
If you find the job description to be too vague, be prepared to do further research and dig a little deeper. Contact the recruiter or HR to ascertain a clearer picture of the profile of the ideal candidate. Ask what the successful candidate will be expected to achieve and why the role has become available. This information will be essential in helping you to adapt your CV to make it more relevant for the role itself. Alternatively, you can use LinkedIn to find people that are already doing the job that you are interested in. Reach out to them, try to build a rapport and ask them the same questions.
After doing this, if you find that you aren’t an exact match for the role, think about whether you believe that your background is still close enough. Are there any extra desirable qualities that you have that could compensate for the elements that you are lacking? It isn’t always possible to trade off experience or skills with every job, but it is always worth a try if you are truly convinced that you would be a good fit for the role. You can strengthen your case by mentioning any other relevant projects or training that you are currently undertaking in order to fill gaps.
You should also try and be as ruthless as possible when eliminating details that aren’t strictly of relevance to the job, like old work experience or temp jobs. It isn’t good to have gaps on your CV, but if the information isn’t going to be massively helpful with your application, try and summarise it in a brief and concise manner.
Demonstrate your skills
Whilst a strong CV and cover letter are essential things to have, they can only do so much in terms of proving your skills. A portfolio provides hard evidence of them. You can build a portfolio online for employers to have access to upon receiving your application. For example, don’t just tell an employer that you did a lot of writing in your last position and therefore have strong writing skills: include examples in your online portfolio, so they can see it for themselves.
A great website you can utilise to help you with this is Portfolium. We also wrote a blog series on building an online brand: you can read part 1, part 2, part 3 and part 4 now.
Show your value
Additionally, you could also consider the merits of submitting additional things that could demonstrate what value you could have to the company. Analyse what the company needs and what they are looking for in the role you are applying for and develop something around this.
The possibilities with this are plentiful; you just need to use a combination of your existing experience, your knowledge about the company and your creativity in order to produce something that is relevant and appropriate.
In doing this, you will demonstrate your breadth of knowledge, your understanding of the company and how you can meet their needs.
Maintain your focus and your enthusiasm
It can be difficult not to feel disheartened if you do not get a job, especially if you had felt that the interview had gone well, or that you would have been perfect for the job and the job perfect for you. But in spite of this, it is vital to stay positive during your job search so as to prevent any hints at bitterness or desperation creeping into your applications or during interviews.
To give yourself a greater sense of control, set yourself personal daily or weekly targets for contacting a certain amount of people, applying for a certain number of jobs, researching companies and following up on leads. This will help to keep you motivated and will give you a sense of achievement. Ensure that the people you are close with know that you are on the hunt for a new job: leads can come from all sorts of sources, so keep yourself visible to friends, family, ex-colleagues and so on.
Don’t stick to one approach
If you find that one approach isn’t quite getting you the best results, try something new. Don’t just limit yourself to online job boards: increase your network contacts by trying to find and build them in new places and in companies you are interested in. If you are attending conferences or industry related events, make sure you make yourself visible. Consider doing some volunteering to help you meet people in your desired space.
Another good thing to consider is writing a blog about your sector. This will build your online visibility whilst simultaneously providing proof of your knowledge and your passion. You can also take part in online conversations on Twitter and online forums: you never know who your comments might be seen by, or whom you might end up interacting with.
Make connections on the inside
Utilise LinkedIn to its full potential and build your professional image. It is becoming a more and more relevant tool for jobseekers, and its user numbers are rising rapidly. It can also help you to identify key decision makers within companies. Nearly all employers are using it in their search for new talent, so maximising your profile could mean that they are coming to you as well. 87% of employers are using LinkedIn, 55% are using Facebook and 47% are using Twitter. Use this to your advantage and maximise your chances! 95% on social media recruiting is done on LinkedIn, so it really is your best resource for this.
Don’t just assume that you can always rely on your application being seen by exactly the person you need it to be. Often, companies will have staff or computer software that screen candidates out before they reach this point. Find someone who is influential and who is a relevant and beneficial contact for you to make and send your information directly to them. A personal reference is much more likely to get you good results. If the idea seems a bit too bold to you, you do not necessarily have to email or connect with them directly: you could join a professional online group that they belong to, or use a contact in your existing network to garner an introduction.
Make a meaningful connection, rather than just finding someone and asking them for a favour.