Applying for jobs can be a tedious task. You often hear candidates say the interview is the hardest part of the application process. There's no doubt that the interview is difficult and nerve-wracking, but from my experience, if you've made it past the shortlisting stage, it's likely you are qualified for the role. It's actually harder for you to get shortlisted for an interview out of a pool of candidates.
The actual application and shortlisting stage is the hard part-- and not because you're not suited for the role, but because you haven't said properly and in the right way why you are the best. This is what results in you getting eliminated from the process.
Here are my tips on what else you need to know:
1. The Basics
The basic necessities when applying for a job are just as important as ever to remember. First impressions do count, and that doesn't necessarily mean it has to be face-to-face. Be honest, clear and concise. If the employer isn't getting a good vibe off your resume this could be their deciding factor when comparing you next to an equally skilled applicant.
Sell yourself and stand out. You need to establish you are perfect for the role with sufficient evidence. Sometimes it can be hard to only include relevant information, but do your research into the role and company and you'll have a better understanding on what's required.
As for standing out, my advice would be to include something that makes you unique. This could be in the hobby or interests section. Things like participation in sports are always worth mentioning.
2. ATS Awareness
Not a lot of candidates know what an ATS is, never mind acknowledging what it does to their application. ATS stands for applicant tracking system, and it's a tool used to manage the volume of applications and filter out the candidates based on skills and qualifications. When uploading a resume to an online portal, an ATS scans for keywords that match the job description, this is why it's important to tailor your resume to it.
This process is where resumes get trimmed down. Well over half get eliminated out of the process before a human looks at them. This shouldn't worry you, just format properly and use the right language.
3. Website Resume
Having a personal website is a great way to make yourself stand out. But it needs to be good quality, informative, up-to-date and mobile-friendly. If you've perfected this then it's ideal for potential employers to access it 24/7 and you can add links to other web pages, designs, reports, etc..
You don't need to be a web developer since there are services out there that don't involve coding. If you do create from scratch, you'll need to create it with hypertext markup language (HTML) and have a place to publish it-- which could come at a cost.
Don't solely depend on a website. It should go in hand with your written resume because most job boards don't enable them and some recruiters won't take the time to go to your web-page, but it is a unique way to market yourself so keep it updated and nicely designed!
4. Written Resumes
With a written resume, whether it's in the form of a Word document, Google Doc or PDF, there are little things that can make it a big eyesore. For example, the use of bold, italics, and underlining information should be used for emphasis, but sparingly. You want the structure and format to be simple and clear. The recruiter will skim read your document to get the key information they're looking for and if you emphasize these points for them then it'll be in your favor. During this stage, they won't be hunting for the answers.
You should also have different resumes for the different roles you're applying for. This can be quite time-consuming but necessary. My advice? Always have a standard template accessible which you can enhance.
5. Visual Portfolios
You can have numerous portfolios, however, I find a visual portfolio works best as you can showcase samples of your top-class work and show off your capabilities; especially for work you can call your own. Remember to stay concise and relevant-- quality over quantity. Having a portfolio sets you apart from other candidates by showing how creative you are. Of course, it's all dependent on its level of quality.
You'll also benefit from aligning the portfolio with your resume. It shouldn't replace it-- especially in case you can't provide your portfolio until you're in person. LinkedIn is a great platform for your skills and expertise to get recognized if it's updated and relevant. If you have an account it should accurately reflect your resume and portfolio, not just exist.