I’d love to get a call back! (How to increase your job application response rate)

Man-Waiting-For-Phone-To-RingWe always have clients who say to us, “It would be great to get a response from employers so I know how I went!”

We get it! We’ve been there.  We know how hard it is when you’ve sent off your application for that dream job.  The job you knew you would be perfect for and believed that there was no chance the employer could pass by your resume without wanting to hire you.  You were so suitable, in fact, that you might as well start polishing your work shoes and pack your lunch.  Then no call?! What went wrong?

When we ask our clients what roles they have been applying for, the conversation goes a little like this:

Client: “Everything and anything!”

Us: “So you were suitable for each and every job you’ve applied for?”

Client: “Well I know I could do it.”

Us: “But did the employer know?”

Client: “Well, you only have to take a look at my resume and see I am capable.”

Us: “So what was the last role you applied for?”

Client: “An entry level Customer Service role.”

Us: “And how did you demonstrate your suitability in your application?”

Client: “Well you can see I have 15+ years experience in a customer service role. I have led teams. I’ve managed people. I’ve been a Customer Service Manager for over 5 years….of course I can do the job.”

Us: “And what was the role again?”

Client: “Entry level customer service.”no-new-messages

Do you see what we are getting at here? Can you see why this client probably didn’t even get a ‘response’ from the employer? They are applying for an entry level customer service agent role.  It is more than likely this role would have an entry level salary attached to it.  Did our client communicate that they fit that criteria? No! Our client was so completely over qualified for that role, the employer really wouldn’t waste their time to respond.  Unfair? Harsh? Rude? Well, you need to remember how many applications an employer can get….100s maybe even 1000s.  If applicants aren’t going to take the time to adjust or tailor their resume for the role, why would an employer respond to their ‘one size fits all’ resume?

You need a job.  We get it. However, when we asked our client in the above example, “So, do you even want to do this job?” and their response was, “Well no, not really but I NEED a job,” please know this: the question we asked is the exact same question going through the employer’s mind. Recruiting is an expensive business.  Employers want to ensure that the candidate they choose will stick around and put in a good couple of years before even thinking about their next opportunity.  Of course, we are only referring to permanent roles, not fixed term or seasonal roles.

So what can you do?

Well firstly, ask yourself if you want to do the job on offer? If you don’t, do you really think you would be happy doing it? We know you need a job; however, job satisfaction (or dissatisfaction) will rear its head and soon enough you’ll be back on the job market looking.  This is why we say to clients, “We know you want a job and will take any job until the ‘right’ one comes along…but beware of burning your bridges.”

Secondly, if you do see yourself doing this job, ask yourself, are you suitable?  Check the specs of the job and review your resume.  Does your resume clearly communicate how you can satisfy the key requirements of the role?  Take our above example.  Yes, our client knew they could do the job, however they expected the employer to infer this from their impressive, over qualified resume. You need to demonstrate you have the right skills and ‘fit’ for the role.  This will mean you have to tailor and readjust your resume for the employer.

How to tailor your resume?

  • Review the role, advertisement and job description, ensuring you have the goods to deliver.
  • Do not lie!  When we say tailor and adjust, we mean communicate the key things in your experiences that match the role.  Don’t make up content to shine through to the employer.
  • Omit irrelevant content.  We see the question all the time, “If you leave out information, is this lying?” No! Not all your experiences or qualifications will be relevant to every role.  Again, tailor your resume so you represent yourself with the most relevant information for that specific employer and role. Employers might not need to know about your hairdressing qualification if you are applying for an IT support role.
  • Key Words.  Ensure your resume, cover letter and selection criteria have key words specific to the role.  This will a) demonstrate you know what you are talking about and understand the industry ‘lingo’ and b) increase your chances of having your resume screened into the ‘yes’ pile if the employer uses an ‘Applicant Tracking System’ (ATS).
  • Review your resume. Prior to submitting, review your resume to ensure you are addressing all the key points and even have a peer or friend review the document and get a second opinion.

These are just some basic tips around tailoring your resume to increase your chances of  getting a call back.  And remember, if you don’t get a call back…we always suggest being honest with yourself and reflect over the roles you have applied for and the way you presented yourself. Were you off the mark? Did you address what the employer was looking for? Did you tailor your application?

If you want to learn more about how to create a targeted resume, we will be hosting a free resume workshop on the Gold Coast on the 21st June.  Visit our website for full details, ‘Upcoming workshops.’



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