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How To Improve Your Interview Skills

Why you’re not being invited to interview and how to fix it.

I often tell clients that looking for a new job is a confidence game. But how do you maintain your confidence when the search isn’t going well or is taking longer than usual?

Here are a handful of reasons why you’re not getting invited to interview and what you can do to fix it.

You’re not tailoring your resume to the job.

If you have submitted dozens of applications but have only heard back from one or two, it’s likely that you are sending a generic resume and cover letter.

When you work with a professional resume writer, we take the time to get to know you so that we can marry your unique experience and skills to the roles you are targeting.  This doesn’t mean that further tailoring isn’t required.

When looking at resumes, employers are trying to measure how relevant your competencies, experience and personal qualities are to the requirements of the role. The better matched your resume is to the job advertisement or position description, the more likely you will end up on the call back list.

While commonalities among similar roles are frequent, it doesn’t mean that all roles and all employers are the same. It’s important to slightly adjust your resume to their specific requirements, environment or even language. If they have defined communication skills as the first criteria for the role, then make sure to move the bullet point demonstrating your communication skills to the top of your summary section. If they have asked for a certain number of years of experience, be sure to include how many years of experience you have in your resume and cover letter.

Make it as easy as possible to help the employer see why you are the perfect employee for them.

 You’re applying for the wrong jobs.

Sometimes clients come to us with an idea of the roles they would like to apply for and when they start looking, they find opportunities that match their skills but are in different industries or have different job titles. For example, if you have created a resume based on sales manager roles but then you start applying for business development manager roles, the mismatch in language can prevent the recruiter from connecting your skills to their role.

It’s also important to critically consider, do you have the right skills for the role or are you applying for roles out of your current reach? We’re not discouraging taking big career leaps, in fact, we’re always advocating clients chase their dreams but it’s important you demonstrate how you have the skills to back up the claim.

The same is said in reverse, we also see clients who after a 20-year progressive career, would like to pivot to a completely different focus. We often see executives who have done their time in the corporate world and want to shift to a more values-led career in the not-for-profits or sustainability sectors. While this is always possible, recruiters and hiring managers base much of their decision making on assumptions, so the storytelling to help navigate this shift is critical. Whether it’s because you’re scaling back, wanting to pursue a passion, or re-entering the workforce after a sabbatical, crafting the “why” and demonstrating how your collective experience will translate to their environment is the key.

Your resume isn’t formatted for electronic recruitment software.

If you’re doing everything right, tailoring your resume for specific jobs that are a good match for you and still not hearing back, it’s time to look at the formatting and style of your document. When you apply for a job online, your application will be parsed into recruitment management or applicant tracking systems. These systems are designed to help companies find the best-suited job applicant out of what can often be hundreds of applications.  The systems collect, consolidate and cull applications based on the requirements of the roles. While the software is constantly evolving it still has its hiccups that can cause havoc for job seekers who aren’t in the know. The most important things to keep in mind are:

  1. Avoid complicated formatting – two columns, tables, and graphics cannot be processed by many systems. This is why the Pinterest resume often doesn’t work. They might look amazing, but they ultimately fail to get you noticed at all.
  2. Skip the white text – systems are not clever enough yet to be able to parse white text, so if you have created a lovely header with a dark background and your name and contact details in white, it could be likely that your application won’t be considered at all because the system doesn’t register whose application it is and how to contact you.
  3. Make the resume relevant – many of the systems search for candidates based on keywords. Just like google, if the hiring manager is looking for someone who has project management experience, they may use that as a keyword to filter the applications. This doesn’t mean you can just write project management a hundred times though. The keywords need to be in context and eventually, it is going to be read by a human so it still needs to make sense! Using the same language as the job advertisement is also important. No point in creating a keyword-rich resume using the term office administrator if the job advert is asking for an executive assistant. It’s more than likely that they will be using their language.
  4. Use standard headings – part of the intelligence of these systems is based on traditional or common approaches. The systems will be looking for standardised headings like summary, experience, and education rather than more creative approaches.

Getting to the first round of interviews but not moving beyond? Read Part 2 – Why you’re not getting the job after interviews.

If you would like help creating a resume that opens doors to opportunities, speak to the team at Successful Resumes Australia. We have helped more than 100,000 people in Australia land their perfect job.

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