If you've ever applied to jobs online, you've probably experienced the frustration of sending out résumé after résumé, only to never hear back from any employers. Yet, other job seekers you know can send a single application and get a call about an interview almost immediately. What are they doing that you aren't?
Career network Beyond.com recently conducted a study about the online search habits of job seekers to discover the differences between the successful and unsuccessful applicants. As it turns out, there aren't many differences: Both groups spend approximately 40 hours a month on their job searches, apply for jobs multiple times a week and use social media to search for opportunities.
If the 2,500 job seekers surveyed all essentially took the same actions in their searches, what explains the success of candidates who have received one or more job offers in the last six months? Were they just in the right place at the right time? Not necessarily. [The Best Free Job Search Apps]
"Looking for work online is like millions of people fishing in the same lake," Joe Weinlick, vice president of marketing for Beyond.com, said in a statement. "Everyone works just as hard and uses the same tools, but some people catch more fish than others. It looks like luck, but those who are successful are doing subtle things differently to improve their odds."
According to Beyond's survey, three factors explain the razor-thin margin between candidates who receive job offers and those who don't:
Time management. Successful online job seekers don't procrastinate. They apply for solid opportunities right away, which makes them 7 percent more likely to land the job. Additionally, they focus solely on positions that are good fits for them, rather than wasting their time on jobs that aren't as promising.
Attention to detail. Most job seekers are told to tailor each résumé and cover letter they send to the specific position they're applying for, but those who actually take the time to do it come out ahead. Candidates with highly customized résumés are 10 percent more likely to receive a job offer after an application.
Research. Candidates who received job offers were 7 percent more likely to have researched the employer before submitting their applications, which helps them reinforce to the hiring manager why they're the best applicants for the position.
Successful job seekers "research the company, and then use this knowledge to highlight the most relevant experience on [their] résumé," Weinlick said. "And if you have the opportunity to send a cover letter, demonstrate your enthusiasm for the company and opportunity while briefly highlighting why you are right for the position."
Weinlick noted that job seekers who want to increase their chances of getting an offer (or at least an interview) need to carefully evaluate the positions they apply to and try to see themselves from the hiring manager's perspective.
"Candidates need to read job descriptions critically, and carefully review the requirements and desired experience for any position," Weinlick told Business News Daily. "These are the criteria that will be used to judge candidates. If your résumé does not demonstrate you are a fit for these criteria, the odds are extremely likely you will not be considered."