Answering advertised job openings is one of the least effective yet most frequently used methods of job searching. Nearly everyone looking for a new job reads the want ads in their local newspaper and on the internet. Those who are particularly savvy often look for advertised job openings on industry niche websites or in trade journals. But, regardless of how or where you find the ad, applying for advertised openings is still one of the least efficient and least effective job search methods. There are many reasons for this, but several of the most significant include:
- The odds are against you as your competition is extraordinarily high for advertised openings
- The vast majority of jobs are filled before they are ever advertised (aka, the “hidden” job market)
- Many listed openings on the internet are old listings and have already been filled
At Distinctive Career Services we advocate a multi-pronged job search strategy that balances a variety of job search methods yet always puts the priority on the methods likely to generate the best results. This means that we recommend that our clients spend the majority of their time networking or in other activities that will help them to access the approximately 85% of job openings that will never be advertised. Still, answering advertised openings has a place in a comprehensive and thorough job search. After all, if 85% of jobs are never advertised, it stands to reason that the remaining 15% are.
What can you do to increase your chances of landing an interview from an advertised opening? Here are some tips:
- Make certain that the first impression you make is the best it can be. In many cases your resume is your first introduction to employers. To get attention among the hundreds or thousands of other job seekers you are competing against, your resume must be absolutely top notch and professional. The design should be eye-catching and the content should be both relevant and compelling to the targeted employer. It is often worth your time to tailor your resume to the opening, making certain that it is immediately obvious to the reader exactly how you would fit in the company and add value. When you are job searching, you can’t afford to waste even a single opportunity. If you have any doubts about your resume, working with a professional resume writer is often a very wise investment.
- Always send an introductory cover letter that makes it clear you have read and understand the advertised requirements and have all of the qualifications they seek. Remember that when a company hires a new employee they are making an investment. In return, you will be expected to solve problems, make money, save money, create efficiency, or add value in some other way. You can set yourself apart from other candidates by using your cover letter and resume to communicate exactly how you will deliver these results in a more profitable way than your competition. Again, it may be wise to consult a professional resume writer to ensure that your cover letter is as powerful and effective as possible.
- Before applying through traditional means, use your personal and professional network to try to get a direct introduction into the company. Someone you know is almost certain to know someone who knows someone who works at the company you are applying to. If possible, try to get a referral and introduction to the person doing the hiring (“a mutual associate of ours, John Doe, suggested I contact you…”).
- As an alternative to the above, try calling or emailing the company to get the name of the person who is handling the opening. Once you have identified that person, contact him directly and ask for a meeting. 5) Spend time researching the company to learn as much as you can about their company culture, their products, their competitors, recent company news, any challenges or problems they are facing, and their short and long-range goals. Make it clear in all of your communications that you have done your research, have knowledge of the company, and have a sincere interest in contributing to their success.
- When you do send a resume, if you have followed instructions you’ll likely be sending it via email or the web, so make certain you have sent it in a format that is readable. In most cases this means maintaining your resume and letter files in Microsoft Word, Adobe PDF, and ASCII text formats and knowing how to use them. If you don’t understand these terms, it is worth your time to consult with a professional before you begin your search. At Distinctive Career Services we provide all our clients with the files in all three formats and provide information on how and when to use them.
- Follow up and ensure that your sincere interest in the advertised position is obvious. If you have emailed your resume, follow up with a hard copy mailing of your printed resume. This step alone will get you attention as very few applicants mail printed resumes these days. Then, several days or a week later, follow up with a call to the person in charge, again expressing your sincere interest in the position.
Even following these tips, you should expect that your returns on the time you spend job searching will be lower from answering ads than from networking. However, they will maximize your returns on the time you are investing and will greatly increase your chances of landing an interview from advertised openings.