Job Search Tip of the Week #4 (2018)
Caressa Moy | January 22, 2018 | 9:00 am
How to Maximize Your Job Search ROI
Improve Your Job Search Strategy to Get More Interviews & Job Offers
Last week, we mentioned some decisions you face on a daily basis as a job seeker:
- What content should you include in your résumé, and how should you format it?
- How much time should you dedicate each day to your job search efforts?
- How much time should you allocate to each job search method?
- Should you work with a recruiter?
- How many résumés should you send out each day?
- Who should you follow up with today, and when?
- How do you choose between multiple job offers?
Return on investment (ROI) is a performance measure that evaluates an investment’s efficiency. In regards to your job search, you should be getting a return that far outweighs the cost. It’s important that you accept personal responsibility for your job search results, and consistently evaluate the choices you make to ensure that you are effectively using your time, money, and effort. If you’re interested in maximizing your job search ROI, keep reading for the answers to the aforementioned job search strategy questions. Alternatively, if you’re interested in the answer to a particular question, click on the question above in the bulleted list to jump to its answer in the post!
What content should you include in your résumé, and how should you format it?
As we mentioned above, if you’re sending out your résumé and getting little response, something’s wrong.
Best case scenario, typographical and grammatical errors are deterring hiring managers from calling you. These problems are easy fixes, requiring only a keen eye to catch and correct them. Remember, details can make the difference in whether you stay or get removed from an applicant pool! Ask a fresh pair of eyes to review the final version of your résumé to find any oversights of punctuation, spelling, or grammar. It also helps to read your résumé out loud, as your ears may catch a mistake your eyes missed. Take the time to approach your résumé meticulously, because it can cost you the job – in one study, 76% of hiring and HR executives said that one or two errors are enough to knock you out of the running for the position. Forty percent said it takes only one strike and you’re out!
Worst case scenario, your résumé isn’t effectively showcasing your qualifications and skills. Did you know that internal and corporate recruiters and HR professionals spend an average of six seconds reviewing a résumé, and that almost 80% of that time is spent on the candidate’s name; current and previous job title, company, and employment start/end dates; and education? That beyond that basic information, they did hardly more than scan for keywords? That in fact, the initial six seconds of résumé reviewing (aka, the aforementioned items) largely determined their good-fit decisions?
These findings mean that you need to make every second count. Think of your résumé as a highlights reel rather than a tell-all, and create multiple versions which touch on the most relevant aspects of your background and experience as they pertain to various job openings. Format your résumé so hiring managers can easily read it and process its information quickly. When you apply to a job, tailor your résumé further to address the needs and preferences of the specific company you’re applying to.
The following tips on how to successfully accomplish these tasks are from “Preparing for Your New Year, New Career Part I: How to Write an Effective Technical Résumé“:
- Center your name at the top of the page, with your contact information directly beneath it.
- Include a one-sentence objective statement at the top of your résumé. The format and wording will vary based on your knowledge, skill-level, and previous experience. Some examples:
- Still-in-school: To obtain a software engineering internship with [potential employer] where I can utilize my education and high technical aptitude to assist the company in the full-cycle development of [name or description of company’s core product].
- Entry-level/Junior: Seeking a [job title] position at [potential employer] where I can utilize my knowledge of [list known languages] and previous internship experience to [key function of the position].
- Mid-level/Senior: [One or two adjectives that describe you] web developer seeks to obtain a position as a [job title, if it’s not a lateral move] at [potential employer] where I can use my knowledge of [key languages relevant to the position] and my experience in [key function of the position].
- Underneath your purpose statement, provide your security clearance level (if applicable) and a technical purview of the languages, frameworks, RDBMS, software tools, and operating systems you have knowledge of or experience with.
- Bold companies and employment dates, and italicize position titles. It’ll help recruiters find that information faster!
- Be specific with job titles. Include your place in the team (e.g., Junior, Mid-level, Senior) and up to three key technical skills you used in your position (e.g., Senior Software Engineer – C#, .NET, SQL).
- Use bullet points, with explanatory items beginning with verbs and being at most two lines in length. The positions you include on your résumé should include at most four explanatory bullets, and you should be consistent with the number (i.e., don’t have one descriptive statement for one position, and four for another).
- Separate sections with white space.
- Create a clean look by formatting all text except for your name and contact information aligned left (Ctrl + L) and justified (Ctrl + J). The study’s eye-tracking technology revealed that the eyes train on the text centered at the top of the page and become less-focused as they moved from the left margin to the right.
Please note that these tips can be adapted and used by job seekers of any industry. If you are feeling overwhelmed by these self-revision suggestions, you should consider working with a third-party IT recruitment agency like Chase Technology Consultants (CTC). You’ll know it’s a reputable technology staffing firm if in addition to other job search services it gives you feedback on your résumé, like whether you’re using the best keywords, current industry terminology, and the right format and style.
How much time should you dedicate each day to your job search efforts?
The short answer: As much as you can.
Career coaches will tell you that if you’re employed, you should devote a minimum of 10 to 15 hours, and if you’re unemployed, you should treat your job search like your full-time job. However, 35 to 40 hours a week may be unrealistic for some job seekers. In fact, dedicating too much time to a job search and emerging fruitless can be debilitating to one’s self-esteem and result in burn-out.
It’s important to realize that time is not equitable to effort. You could be putting in a large amount of time, but without the right approach to your job search, you’ll have little to show for that effort and will quickly get discouraged. Also, when you schedule only blocks of time for your job search, it’s easier to make excuses (e.g., “I worked on my job search longer yesterday, so I can end early today” or “I can make up the time later”) and you’re likely to focus more on how long you’ve been looking for a job rather than the effort.
So instead of setting aside time each day for your job search, set task-oriented goals for yourself and use them to create reasonable deadlines that you can realistically meet. For example: “Today, I will go through all of the job opportunities on the CTC website to find the ones I’m interested in and qualify for. Over the next three days, I will put together the necessary documents and submit my applications. Three days after that, I will follow-up with a hiring manager.”
This way, you’ll have a clear sense of direction and use your available time more wisely.
How much time should you allocate to each job search method?
Especially in today’s competitive job market, where according to a Wall Street Journal (WSJ) article an average of 51% of all full-time job openings is filled with internal transfers and promotions, you have to apply smartly.
In fact, of the 49% of positions that are filled with external hires, 27%, 22%, and 13% come from referrals, company websites, and online job boards, respectively. You should allocate your time based on how most recruiters find new employees.
Considering the findings indicate that networking is the most effective strategy for gaining employment, a bulk of your time should be spent on branding yourself, fixing up your LinkedIn profile, and joining social networking sites specifically for IT and technology professionals. Co-founder and Chief Strategist of CareerXroads Mark Mehler suggests that job seekers “use job boards and corporate sites to find information about openings” but “use their network to apply.”
Thus, you should be spending the least amount of time posting and applying through job boards. With a higher level of competition, you get the lowest return on your time investment. You must also choose which job boards you use wisely. According to the survey referenced by WSJ, 53% of online job board hires initially applied through CareerBuilder and Monster.
If you work within a specific industry or profession, it pays to apply through niche job boards because you’ll 1) Weed out fields you’re not interested in; 2) Get increased exposure to desired employers due to the smaller, more qualified applicant pool and subsequent less competition; and 3) Build an industry-specific network. And remember, do your research beforehand so you don’t waste time applying to a company or job that isn’t a good fit for you.
Should you work with a recruiter?
Besides the résumé assistance we mentioned earlier, there are many other ways your job search can benefit when you work with an agency IT recruiter. Recruiters have direct contact with the hiring authorities of their clients, which can facilitate and improve the interview, feedback, and callback process. They can also introduce you to jobs that aren’t being advertised. For example, if you’re particularly interested in start-ups, who in their early stages often operate in stealth-mode, recruiters can be your best search tool in finding you those opportunities.
However, you shouldn’t send your résumé to every staffing specialist you know. You may lose track of where your résumé is going and if you’re submitted to the same company multiple times by different representatives, you may come across as disorganized and desperate. In addition, the client may decide to remove you from the candidate pool so that they don’t run into the difficult situation of deciding which agency to work with and who deserves the placement fee, should they decide to hire you.
Choose two or three recruiters that specialize in your field and whom you feel you can trust. In addition, it’s always a good idea to establish rapport with a recruiter, even when you’re not actively seeking. Why? The recruiter can get to know you as more than a résumé, and you’re more likely to be one of the first contacted when great opportunities arise that fit your qualifications and requirements
How many résumés should you send out each day?
You should aim to send out at least five targeted résumés a day, which means you’ve tailored them for the specific position/company and are sending them directly to a hiring authority or recruiter. If you’re applying to very few jobs, it could be that you haven’t cast a wide enough net. The job market is more competitive than ever before, so you may need to consider applying to other jobs within your field to get your foot in the door at a particular company.
If you’re sending out a high volume of résumés but getting very few calls for interviews, you’ve run into a quality vs. quantity problem and should cease sending your résumé out as-is en masse. You’ll get better results if you apply to fewer jobs and take the time to tailor your resume and cover letter to the specific company/position. More is not always better!
Also, take a look at the positions you’re applying to. Are you qualified for them? If you don’t meet the job requirements or are overqualified, you most likely will not get a response. Keep in mind as well that you’re competing with other job seekers who may have a similar background and experience to you, so you have to do what you can to set yourself apart.
Who should you follow up with today, and when?
We recommend that you at the very least:
- Follow up on applications (three to five days after submission) and after interviews (a proper thank-you message should be sent within 24 hours). Email is best (less invasive); don’t call unless you were specifically asked to by your interviewer. If your call doesn’t reach its intended recipient, be smart when you leave a voicemail message. If your message simply states that you want an update, you may not receive a prompt reply. Ask if you can provide additional information or if they need anything from you; people will be more likely to return a phone call to answer your question.
- Request additional information about the position or company that cannot be answered with thorough research. Email around noon or in the early afternoon, which tend to be the slower parts of the day.
- Expand your professional network by sending some emails and LinkedIn messages.
How do you choose between multiple job offers?
There’s never been a better problem to have as a job seeker! First, congratulations – your hard work’s paid off. Next, request time from each of your potential employers to consider their offer. Then, take a deep breath and follow these four steps to help you make an informed decision:
- Compile your research. Before you even interviewed with the company, you should’ve conducted extensive research on them to become well-versed in their history, values, mission, products and services, and accomplishments. When you went in for interviews, you should’ve gotten a sense of the work atmosphere, culture, and environment. By the final interview, you should have discussed the benefits and perks of the company. Create piles of notes on each company, and proceed to…
- Make a chart. Create columns that depict what’s most important or non-negotiable to you in a job and an employer, and rows for each company. Then fill in the cells with your research notes. This will give you a side-by-side visual of the strengths and weaknesses which you can then use to determine which job and company will be a better fit for you.
- Consider the long-term. Many people are tempted to choose the job with the higher salary, shorter commute, or more perks. However, it’s important to also consider your long-term job and life satisfaction. Ask yourself which job at which company aligns with your passions and long-term career goals: Do you absolutely need x, or can you get by without it for now?
- And above all, trust your instincts.
Make sure that you’re respectful of the deadlines set by the companies, and inform them of your decision as soon as possible so that they have enough time to either prepare for your arrival or extend an offer to another candidate.
Remember: If you haven’t gotten a job offer yet and have been searching for an inordinate amount of time, it’s time to switch up your strategy.
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Image Credit: Fastweb.com