Career Information Hotline Toll Free 1-800-661-3753 Edmonton 780-422-4266

I've been applying to jobs, but haven't been called for an interview yet. What can I do to improve my chances?

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Answer

When you treat your work search as a full-time job, yet it seems your efforts aren’t paying off, it’s easy to become discouraged.

If your resumés, cover letters and phone calls are not translating into interviews, try thinking about your work search as a television commercial: you are the product, and employers are the people you’re trying to attract.

Think strategically about how to market yourself. What can you do to rise above the crowd of competitors and get noticed? Here are some ideas:

  1. Do as much networking as you can. Take people out for coffee to ask about opportunities at their workplaces. Ask for introductions. Ask if they know anyone else you should talk to about work. Ask them to keep an ear out for opportunities that might suit you. This is by far the best way to find a job.
  2. Tailor your materials. Different employers look for different qualifications. Have you been sending the same letter and resumé to every company? Change tactics—try customizing your approach. This shows the company you’ve done your research.
  3. Understand the screening process. Resumés are often screened and graded automatically by software programs, not people. To get noticed, make sure your resumé and cover letter contain strong keywords that reflect the job description and your skills. Make sure your cover letter zeroes in on your specific accomplishments.
  4. Put yourself in the employers’ shoes. What are they looking for? Why are they hiring? What problems do they have that you could solve? How can you add value to the organization? If you were running the company, what would impress you most? Lead with this information in your resumés and cover letters.
  5. Be creative. Write a cover letter with a compelling first paragraph. Avoid something like, “I read the job description and believe I am a suitable candidate.” Instead, say something original about yourself, and tie it to how this would serve the company. For example, you might say, “All my life, I have had a passion for design. I would love to bring my talent and skills to support your company’s multimedia strategy.”
  6. Be concise. Your resumés should not be longer than 3 pages. Cover letters should be 1 page. Emails should occupy 1 screen or less.
  7. Be professional. Avoid texting abbreviations or online acronyms. Use correct language and spell words out in full. Avoid emoticons. J

Finally, know that you may not actually be doing anything wrong. If you’re short on job experience and you’re trying to find work in a tough job market, it can be hard to get an interview. Keep doing what you’re doing, and don’t let it get you down.

If you’d like to talk to someone about your job search, call the Alberta Career Information Hotline (1-800-661-3753 toll-free or 780-422-4266 in Edmonton).

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