Posted July 06, 2016 by

What makes job seekers highly effective: Part 2

When job seekers find immediate success, what are they doing right? How are they standing out from the rest of the applicants who earn interviews?

Those job seeker secrets to success were discussed in detail as part of the Successful Job Seekers Research portion of the 2016 Job Preparedness Indicator Study. The survey was conducted in March 2015 by the Career Advisory Board (CAB) established by DeVry University. As part of the research, over 500 job seekers were surveyed and the key findings and data from the research are highlighted in the accompanying video featuring Steven Rothberg, founder of College Recruiter, moderating a discussion with Alexandra Levit, a consultant, speaker, and workplace expert who has written six career advice books, and was formerly a nationally syndicated career columnist for the Wall Street Journal, and Madeleine Slutsky of DeVry University. The interview and discussion takes place from Google’s Chicago offices during the NACE 2016 Conference in June.

Read the first article in this series: What makes a job seeker highly effective, Part 1 and learn more in the video below:


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What criteria qualifies one as a successful job seeker? According to the 2016 Job Preparedness Indicator Study, this includes:

A. Active job seekers who secured a job offer within six months of their first interview.
B. Passive candidates who already had a job, were recruited, and accepted an offer within 6 months of being recruited.

“That’s pretty successful,” says Levit. “If you’re able to get a new job within six months, you’re doing something right.”

According to the study, the first thing successful job seekers do is target their job search to a specific company.

“The conventional wisdom is that if you just send your resume out to as many people as possible, it’s a number game; eventually something will hit,” says Levit. “In fact, this is the opposite of what we found to be true.”

According to the survey data, 51 percent of active job seekers applied to five or fewer positions, and 66 percent applied to 10 or fewer jobs.

“The majority of our successful job seekers are really going after specific companies they want to work at,” says Levit.

They also know that they are qualified for those jobs, before submitting applications, says Levit. The research showed that 90 percent of job seekers wanted to be at least 75 percent qualified before applying to a targeted company and job, meaning they fit at least seven out of the 10 requirements of the job description before applying. In addition, 41 percent wanted to be at least 90 percent qualified before applying – meaning they fit nine out of the 10 requirements of the job description before applying.

Successful job seekers also customize their resume and job search, and do significant research before putting together their cover letter, resume, and online profile for their target company. The survey results showed that 67 percent of successful job seekers reached out to the company contact person, and 32 percent reached out to their network to get inside info on the target company before applying. In addition, 84 percent tailored their resume to the exact specifics of the job they were targeting, updating it for each job. Translation: A targeted resume is much more effective than a one-size-fits-all resume.

“This is something the Career Advisory Board has been saying for years,” says Levit. “Yes, unfortunately, every resume has to be customized if you want to be taken seriously. That’s what successful job seekers are doing.”

Hiring managers pick up a resume and are going to know, within 20 seconds, if the applicant is a good fit for the job, says Levit. That’s why it’s important to tailor/customize each resume for a specific job.

The study also uncovered some surprising news for job seekers: Successful job seekers don’t necessarily consider job-seeking a full-time role.

Levit said this: “I have to admit, this is counter to the advice I have always given, which has been ‘if you are in the job market and not currently employed, you should be treating your job search like a full-time job,’ meaning you are spending seven or eight hours a day on (the job search). That’s not what successful job seekers are doing.”

The study showed that 47 percent of successful job seekers conducted job search activities a total of one to three hours a day and 45 percent spent less than an hour per day on the job search. This includes writing resumes, networking, searching for jobs, and researching companies, among other job search duties.

“Whatever they are doing is effective and efficient,” says Levitt. “It’s not quantity, it’s quality.”

The bottom line? Successful job seekers put together job searches that target a specific company and job, and write resumes and cover letters tailored to that specific job. They work to connect with people inside the organization for which they are applying, and doing all of this is helping them land jobs faster than those who are not conducting a specific, targeted job search.

Watch the video to learn more about what makes a job seeker highly effective.

For more advice for job seekers, check out our blog and follow us on LinkedIn, Twitter, Facebook, and don’t forget to subscribe to our YouTube channel.

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