It’s a tough job market these days. So many candidates for fewer jobs makes it tougher for anyone to stand out. Even if you possess top notch skills, there is no guarantee that hiring managers will be knocking at your door to hire you.
We’ve all been there before, mired in a job search that isn’t yielding many results. You send out hundreds of resumes for jobs you think you are interested in and are qualified for, but you never hear back from employers. The problem may not be you, and it may not be the employer. Instead, it may be that the hiring manager does not see you as a good fit for the job.
So how can you be sure that you do fit the job description? Staffing firm Careers in Nonprofits revealed a cheat sheet of questions job candidates can ask themselves when applying for jobs. I’ve outlined each of the four questions below.
- Does the job description match what you are currently doing? If the job description calls for someone with basic accounting skills and you currently do not have those skills in your current position, then that may one reason that hiring managers have dismissed your application. The more closely your current work matches the job you are applying for, the more likely a hiring manager will follow up with you.
- Is the job title similar to other job titles you’ve held in the past? If you held similar job titles in the past, that might make you more appealing for prospective employers. For example, if you have a history of working in administrative assistant jobs, it may be much easier to apply for a similar role. But what if you want to move up from an administrative position, perhaps into a managerial role? In that case, emphasizing your skills set would be critical, especially if you supervised other workers or managed a department or program. Those skills can be transferred to a bigger role elsewhere.
- Are you applying because you want THAT job or because you want A job? There’s a big difference between the two. It can be tempting to apply for any old job that comes along just because you’ve been out of work for a while and are desperate to find something, anything to pay the bills. But hiring managers aren’t interested in hiring someone who wants to collect a paycheck. They want someone who is committed to doing that particular job, do it well and do it for the long term. If you can’t commit to that, then you are likely not a good fit.
- Do you meet most of the qualifications? While you don’t have to meet every single requirement for a job, meeting most of them will help gain the hiring manager’s attention. CNP Senior Manager Kimmi Cantrell says being overqualified can be as problematic as being underqualified. Hiring managers tend to dismiss overqualified candidates believing that they are only interested in a short-term employment until something better comes along. However, if you really like a job, love the work you are currently doing and you meet most of the qualifications, then go ahead and apply.
While these questions are a great starting point for any job search, they don’t take into account career changers. What if someone worked as a teacher previously and now wants to move into nonprofit management? What if you’ve worked as an accountant for many years and are now switching gears to become a graphic designer? I imagine there are different sets of questions to ask yourself as you apply for those jobs.
As you investigate job opportunities in your own field, run through these questions and see where you stand. I think it’ll be easier to dismiss many jobs that are clearly not right for you. True, you will probably send out fewer resumes, but they will be more qualified applications. You will need to spend more time crafting your cover letter and customizing your resume so that you can properly showcase how your skills and experience match what is required in the job. But the extra effort can pay off.
Remember, it’s not how many jobs you apply for, it’s the quality of the applications you’re submitting. And that can result in more job interviews and ultimately, job offers.