Job applications: planning for success
Organisations often receive dozens or even hundreds of applications and enquiries about jobs. So, to be successful, your job hunting will probably require more than just sending out as many applications as possible.
You will need to think carefully about your marketing plan and how you are going to present information about yourself so that it is relevant to each and every application you make.
Develop a plan
Spend some time researching the employers you might like to work for. Think about the type of work you’d like to do, your salary requirements, and your geographical preferences. Find out as much as you can about different organisations that might have openings you can apply for.
It can help to draw up three lists. The organisations you would most like to work for are your ‘A list’. Your ‘B list’ organisations are the ones that aren’t ideal but would still be a great place to get a job. Finally, your ‘C list’ should contain possibilities that are also worth considering.
You might end up with as many as 100 organisations on your three lists, particularly if you live in a city or urban area, or if you are willing to relocate. As well as applying for vacancies that are advertised, it’s worth targeting places you would like to work even if they aren’t actively recruiting.
Your chances of success will be much improved if you can find out the name of the person who makes hiring decisions, and how they like to be approached.
As part of your marketing plan, you will need to be organised and record everything you do. When you are making a lot of contacts on a daily basis, it’s easy to get confused. Keep a log of phone contacts you make, applications and CVs you send out, and interviews you have – whether it’s a telephone interview, informal interview, or formal face-to face-interview.
Also, make a note of who you spoke with and whether or not follow up is required – enter a follow up date if needed. Excel spreadsheets are ideal for keeping track of this type information.
Each application you make should be focused on a specific job and you should be clear why you’re applying for that job. When you have developed your marketing plan and a way of organising your efforts, write a one page letter to serve as a cover letter for your CV. Briefly describe your accomplishments and what you think you have to offer the organisation. These documents are your advertisement – they are the enticement for an employer to offer you an interview.
Don’t include personal details or a photograph – the employer may use this information to screen you. At the end of the letter, include a thank you for their time in reading your CV. Follow up with a telephone call.
Look for as many ways as you can to get to know people in the organisations you’re interested in. Friends or family can help, or it might be a case of trying to get work experience or attending events where you can meet people who might help you find a way in. It’s no secret that the best way to find a job is through someone you know.
Though it’s important to be persistent, it’s hard not to be disheartened if you get a low response rate. That’s why it’s best to maximise your chances of success by targeting your job hunting efforts rather than just mass mailing.
Use interviews as a rehearsal
Every interview is a step towards the one that brings the job offer and it’s also a chance to get your foot in the door for the future. Make it count! Prepare for each interview that you get, reflect on your performance, and learn from your mistakes.
In summary, job hunting is a full-time job, and in a recession, it can feel like you’re working a double shift. Commit to pushing through with all you’ve got.
There is currently so much competition that no matter how good you are you are, expect to get a large number of rejections. Like a salesperson, it will not be unusual to get a 95% or greater rejection rate. You will hear no more times than you will hear yes. Get used to it and remember that you have to be in it to win it!