What recruiters don’t tell you
How to get invited for interview, applying sales theory in your job hunt
The media has been reporting up to 1000 job applicants to one job, so now really is the time to work hard to stand out from the crowd to get shortlisted! Let us get back to the basics of sales theory and think about how to apply that to your own personal job hunt and brand.
It’s best to think quality over quantity
Just as generic proposals are obvious, rushed applications that are not personalised will be too, and give the impression that you don’t care. It makes more sense to submit 10 tailored, specific, well thought-out applications that will stand out to employers than 100 of the same application which is far less likely to get you noticed.
I recently delivered a webinar titled ‘why copy-paste doesn’t work’ and quickly realised that the content is just so applicable to today’s job hunters. Sales and marketing theory is key to conversion and can be applicable to those promoting themselves in the jobs market just as it is when professionally responding to client enquiries.
Job roles are often advertised with quite a thorough job specification which makes it much easier to establish your suitability.
At a time when applicant choice is plentiful, the recruiter is in the situation where they can be fairly certain to be able to fulfill their needs. Just as you would look to see if a product or service is fit for purpose and meets your needs, the same applies in this context.
How close a match are you to the specific needs of the role and how best can you demonstrate that?
It is also important to consider your own needs and more research into the company, culture, history, and online media, can help with this. Doing a Google search, or looking on LinkedIn are useful to find company information and to see who your colleagues might be.
Many job postings do not include the details of who is going to be receiving the initial application and playing that key role in making the all-important shortlisting decision.
Remember ABC – Always Be Calling
Call and find out who is responsible for managing recruitment for the role, introduce yourself and set the expectation for the formal application coming their way. Take the opportunity to ask open questions that help you to find out more about the job, and therefore be able to personalise a response more closely. Just make sure that you don’t ask questions that have already been answered on the application notes, as this will have the opposite impact on the desired outcome of the call. You want to leave the conversation with the recruiter feeling excited to hear from you with an application. Make a note of the name of the person handling applications and use it when you write the cover letter.
Having established a rapport and made contact over the phone you are getting one step ahead on that all important standing out from the crowd by showing you are willing to put that extra effort in to personalise your application and have started to build a relationship with that company already.
Tailoring your application
Two pages is a good length for a CV and should start with a personal statement that briefly summarises your key strengths and what makes you unique.
Gently mirroring in sales is a psychological tool that is effective in signalling cohesion. Verbally, it helps to create a rapport and build trust, and in the written form in this context, helps to personalise an application. Match your skills and experiences to those detailed in the job spec, then add a style that will let your personality shine through.
Testimonials are just as important in a job application process. Use links to places that employers can find more about you. This could be your LinkedIn profile, where recommendations are shown, it could be an online press release about some work or achievements in a previous role. If you have any formal written letters of recommendation, make sure to include them.
Be proud of your achievements and confident in your abilities and use them as a sales tool.
Avoid fact dumping
In sales we talk about presenting features and benefits, ensuring that each feature has a benefit attached to it using a linking phrase such as ‘which means that’. This helps focus on fulfilling needs and avoiding irrelevant content. The equivalent here is linking facts about your skill-set and experience with results obtained that will be appealing and relevant, and do not overwhelm the reader. Pick out examples from your own personal work history that you know will have an impact.
Use power verbs such as transformed, delivered, achieved, inspired, to show how facts about your skills have produced results. Choose descriptive words like effective, consistent, determined, and adaptable.
Link your strengths (and career interests) to the company's requirements, just as you might sell to the needs of the customer. Show results on your CV for each role, not just what you did.
Attention to detail
Spelling and grammar matters, checks can be made using online tools and ask someone to proof read. Design of a CV is best kept simple. Don’t over complicate it with colours and symbols, the written content matters more. Recruiters also often change your CV into a standardised format so any design work may not be seen.
Cover Letter – as a video!
A cover letter gives you a chance to talk directly to the employer, emphasising your enthusiasm for the organisation and the role. If there is an opportunity to submit one, you should (even if it’s not mandatory) as it will add to your chances of standing out.
Employers have countless job application forms to sift through - to show you're perfect for the role and get an interview, you'll need to demonstrate personality and confidence. This can be achieved more effectively using video.
It is much easier to demonstrate passion, highlight key achievements, emphasise your enthusiasm for the organisation and the role. It does not have to be long, 1-2 minutes is adequate.
Slync is a new app that is quickly gaining traction in the jobs market, with the strapline ‘Forget your paper CV, we want to hear your skills’. This article on the BBC references Slync and uses the example of a successful video applicant who took a risk with his approach to get noticed, and it worked!
If there is no indication of receipt and next steps provided automatically, the additional benefit having established a personal contact that is responsible for handling applications and shortlisting is that you can easily follow up and check that your application has been received.
Be open to other opportunities/connections. Always be thinking how that person could introduce you to someone else, even if you are not successful in that role.
Ditch the one-click-apply approach
I hope I have demonstrated through sales theory that bespoke is best. Don’t exhaust yourself with hundreds of job applications, be confident in a small number of well thought out and creative applications and take pleasure in the small wins, like being invited to interview.
There are loads of articles online to help with writing CV’s and Cover letters and any help needed with the ideas above, feel free to reach out to me.