Creating Excellence Through People

You’re Only a Click Away from Your Next Job…Or Are You?   

Finding your next job isn't as easy as swiping right on a dating app. You need do some work before you "click to apply."

I was recently tasked with recruiting for a client, which means replying with the “Thanks, but no thanks” response to a fair number of applicants. I generally take the time to respond. It’s the best way to close the door to the recruiting process and move forward for all involved. Sometimes I hate to deliver bad news, but is it really bad news for most applicants?

I dare to say the “Click to Apply” button sees more action than the Staples “Easy” button. Perhaps they are one and the same. Level Up Solutions includes recruiting as a part of a menu of services mostly geared toward employers, but we also offer career coaching solutions for individuals. Each time I recruit for a position, I see the same trends. Honestly, in a lot of cases, I wonder why the candidate even applied for the role due to a lack of aligned qualifications. Most could really use career coaching and the associated feedback.

One brave applicant responded to my “Thanks, but no thanks” note. The applicant indicated they had applied for over 200 jobs since the beginning of the year (remember, we are still in February) and was asking for feedback because they had not been able to get any from other recruiters. The applicant was obviously eager and wanted a new job, but I questioned their investment in the process.

Let me first say that this is not the first time that I have heard candidates share staggering numbers of jobs they have applied for in a short period of time. I imagine these numbers would not be so high in “pre-click” times. The convenience of what the applicant thinks is a connection to a job is many times only sending them down a rabbit hole of false hope and misunderstanding that bottoms out in the murky abyss of an Applicant Tracking System (ATS).

Please don’t blame the messenger, but job seekers should expect to put in a little elbow grease during the application process. I love simplicity more than anyone and do think technology and related application processes should continue to evolve to be on the side of the job seeker and prove to be effective for both the applicant and employer. There is room for improvement, but I equally do not like to hear complaints about how it takes too long to apply for a job. There is an echo of entitlement that just doesn’t sit well because applying for a job should be a meaningful process that goes beyond an impulsive click. Applying for a job should be a thoughtful investment of time.

As mentioned, the job seeker I recently encountered was asking for feedback, which I commend. I offered a basic reply about moving forward with candidates whose qualifications were more aligned with the requirements of the role. This was very much the case. After I replied, I wondered if the applicant would know what I meant by that. We hear a lot about hiring for attitude, teaching skills, and the like. I don’t disagree that this can be the case for certain roles and opportunities, but the reality is that this type of scenario doesn’t happen with a click. It happens through networking, making strategic connections, and a lot of work that comes with convincing someone of the value you bring to the table and that you will knock the opportunity out of the park.

Looking for a job and building a career comes with its challenges, but it can be fulfilling work that takes you to the next level. Here are a few things to keep in mind.

  • Take the bull by the horns! This is your career and only you can steer it in the direction that you want to go. Creating opportunities for yourself goes beyond a click and being at the mercy of a potential employer. Identify your strengths, challenges, opportunities, and threats in relation to work and career, along with personal influences that may be a factor. I prefer SCOT over SWOT when it comes to personal and professional development. There is too much of a stigma and potential misinterpretation surrounding the context of weaknesses.
  • Job boards aren’t dating apps! There, I said it. Unfortunately, this has become a valid comparison. Extreme clicking is not much different than passively swiping right or left to gauge the interest on the other side of the screen. Again, put in a little elbow grease with a clear and direct cover letter and tailored resume for the role.
  • Are cover letters still a thing? Well, that may depend on who you ask and the level of role in which you are applying. Cover letters not only offer a greeting and initiate interest in a role, but they also demonstrate your communication skills, including written communication.  Many applicants lack in this area, so a general rule of thumb is to compose a simple one-page cover letter of no more than 3-4 concise paragraphs to demonstrate your communication and writing skills, along with your level of professionalism and highlights of what you bring to the table now and in the future.
  • Click or not to click? You can click to apply but be selective. What jobs and companies are truly of interest? Ask yourself why they are of interest. Do your research beyond what looks good in a job title. Even more important, follow up with the recruiter. This can be through LinkedIn, a contact email listed in the job ad, or a good old-fashioned phone call. Remember that elbow grease strategy?
  • Up your self-awareness game. Do you meet the qualifications listed in the job ad? That’s not to say you don’t have the potential to meet the qualifications, but do you possess them (or even close) right now as you are applying for the job? This goes well beyond the degree or no degree debate. What demonstrated skills and abilities do you possess? Do you have a direction and vision for your career? If not, that’s okay. That can change, and in some cases, change rather quickly. The big question is are you willing to put in the work to navigate those changes?
  • Follow and connect with people who are doing what you want to do! Many times, we stay within the confines of our current circles. It’s easy and comfortable until it isn’t. The same conversations, professional development topics, and day-to-day typically won’t allow us to set the vision and develop innovative ideas for our careers and future, and it doesn’t encourage us to take the bull by the horns. Muster up the courage to enter a room that you feel like you don’t belong in. You will thank yourself later.

Everyone’s career path and journey are unique. Above are a few general tips, but you may need more support and assistance. Reach out through our website if you are interested in career coaching. You can also check out Level Up’s Online Learning Portal and the Career Prep Sessions mini-courses to support your job search.

Employers – Level Up offers organization-sponsored career coaching as an aspect of talent development and managing career progression, as well as outplacement coaching to transitioning employees. Let us know if we can help!

“You do not rise to the level of your goals. You fall to the level of your systems.” ~ James Clear

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Terri Cummings

As Owner & Senior Consultant at Level Up Solutions HRD LLC, Terri Cummings is an advocate of lifelong learning who fosters bridging the connection between personal and professional development. Through strategy and proactive development, her aim is to align students, members of the workforce, and employers with continuous growth and opportunity that achieves sustainable success.

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