Applying For Jobs: Quality, Not Quantity, Counts

Often job seekers take the volume approach to applying online for positions. They figure that applying to jobs is a numbers game – the more positions they apply for the more likely they’ll get a call back, interview and, hopefully, a job.

As a job seeker, you can’t mistake activity for results. As an employer, I see literally hundreds of resumes a week, so for most positions I have the luxury of selecting resumes that are a solid fit for the position I’m looking to fill. Additionally, I lean heavily on employee referrals to fill many of my positions (I’ll elaborate later). So as a job seeker you need to craft a more focused approach to your job application strategy. Successful job seekers spend more quality time applying to fewer positions. Below are a few suggestions on how to improve your application response rate.

Are you a fit? At a basic level are you a minimum fit for the role’s requirements? For many companies these minimum requirements are not flexible. Their internal human resource function will not allow managers to hire candidates who do not meet the minimum threshold of experience or education. If you don’t meet these requirements, then you are likely wasting your time. Move on to positions for which your background is suited.

Create a Smart Cover Letter. After scanning your resume most recruiters and hiring managers take a look at your cover letter. If you have not taken the time to include a cover letter, many employers assume you are not serious about their position. Or they assume you are applying to any, and all, positions you can find online. Take a moment to write a short summary as to how your experience and skills are uniquely positioned for the job. I’ve seen cover letters in paragraph and bullet point format. If written well, either format can be effective.

Tailor Your Resume. You should not have just one generic resume that you use when applying for every position. Resumes, like jobs, are unique. Take the added time to really read the job description. If you are a fit, make sure your resume makes that completely clear. For example, if you have the right skills, make sure they appear in the same order as on the job posting. Most employers write job descriptions with bullet points in order of priority.

Find Another Angle of Attack. When you see a position posted online, you should avoid the impulse to immediately apply. First, you need to find out if you know anyone at the company. This is where is an incredibly helpful tool (if you aren’t on LinkedIn you should be…now). As a tool it allows you to see who your connections are connected to. You’ll be surprised at how many second level connections you have and this group of people can be tremendously helpful in your job search. As mentioned above, employee referrals are a top source of hiring at most companies. These second level connections can ensure you are the next employee referral that gets hired!

Bio of Matt Lowney

Matt Lowney has 11 years of recruiting and talent development experience having worked for large fortune 500 companies and smaller, locally owned organizations. Recently he has accepted the role of Executive Vice President of Talent and Operations at The Buntin Group, which is Tennessee’s largest, most award advertising agencies. In this role he supports talent acquisition & development initiatives, while also having responsibility for human resources, information technology, some finance, and facilities.

Previously, Matt held recruiting leadership roles for HealthSpring and DaVita, both multi-billion dollar organizations with employees spread across the country. Matt is president and co-founder of TANS (Talent Acquisition Networking Source), a local recruiting organization with 500 members. For 5 years he was host of “Career Talk”, a weekly television program dedicated to helping others find employment on Newshannel5+. He has been a finalist for three consecutive years for the Nashville Chamber’s NELA awards recognizing leaders under the age of 40.