In a competitive market whatever you’re selling, even if it’s yourself, has to cut through. With the current number of open vacancies being overwhelmed by applicants, employers are streamlining their application process to be able to quickly reduce it to a short list. They are also being much more specific about the job application steps and what they will consider a strong application.
Working with a client this week, they were torn between two roles within an organisation and were finding it difficult to decide for which role to apply. In a normal market, you would be able to speak to the contact and clarify more detail about the roles. In this case, the internal recruiter emailed back to say they were inundated with applications, so weren’t able to speak to prospective applicants. Each role would be considered individually, and as separate applications.
When an organisation is flooded with applicants, they will have a higher benchmark and be far more discerning about which applications to consider for the second round. You may have more skills or a really compelling career story but in a competitive market, tailoring your application to the job description is the best way to progress to the second round.
7 steps for tailoring an application
Writing applications can be an art itself, so here’s a few tips to help combat aspects we see applicants struggle with:
- Identify the key themes/experience before you start writing. This helps you save time and effort and tailors your key achievements and responsibilities to the job description. The key responsibilities are typically written in order of importance. Also look for repeated language used in the overall description, responsibilities and desired skills and experience.
- Use the same wording and phrasing within your content that the employer/recruiter uses in the job description, as well as industry or market recognised terms. Whether the organisation is using an ATS or human skim reading, they are scanning for skills and experience that match their role.
- Demonstrate your capability with relevant examples and avoid generic skill statements. Always back up your capability that’s relevant to the role with an example; explain the situation, what you did and the measurable result or outcome.
- Use descriptor words that reflect the responsibility and seniority of your role. Led, managed, designed, delivered or project managed, for example.
- Only include what is relevant. While you shouldn’t leave gaps in your employment, within your career objective, highlights or key achievements, ask yourself “is this relevant and valuable to the role?”
- Be concise. If you tailor your resume, it shouldn’t be any longer than 3-4 pages.
- Writing applications can be tiring and it’s easy to get stuck in the detail. Ask someone to review it to check if it’s hitting the mark. Does your application sound like you’re applying for a different job?
If you are applying to a number of different roles, to save time and effort, it’s a good idea to have a master resume document that you can edit for each role rather than writing from scratch.
Remember job searching and applications are a sales and communication task. Perseverance will pay off, but if you feel your applications are not representing you as well as you could, then ask for feedback from the roles you’ve applied for, get a friend to review or seek out professional help.