Job seeking can be a nerve-wracking experience for seasoned professionals as well as fresh graduates. While resilience and patience are the keys to powering through the process, a few insider tricks go a long way. Simple tips like tweaking resumés for each application or researching the company ahead of the interview can make all the difference. These five tips can help ensure that jobseekers are on the right track.

Keyword-optimized resumés are essential

Most companies these days save time on screening by running candidate resumés through an Applicant Tracking Software (ATS) that shortlists candidates based on the relevant keywords in their application documents. This means that even if a candidate put together a fantastic cover letter, it may not make a difference because it was missing vital keywords. One way to see if an application includes the right words is to scan the job description and try to pull the most important keywords from it; these will usually include the name of the role (e.g., Social Media Specialist) and some of the key skills and requirements (“social media strategy,” “content creation for social media,” “social media analytics”). Applicants can also enter the job description into a free word cloud generator to help them pick out the most commonly appearing relevant words. These words can be incorporated into one’s resumé or cover letter wherever they are most relevant. For instance, if “social media strategy” pops up on a word cloud, then it can be added to the skills section of a resumé along with an explanation of how the candidate created an effective social media strategy and the results it generated.

Be an early bird

It can be helpful for candidates applying for work on job portals to act quickly. The longer the job is online, the more applicants join the hiring pool. Even if only ten people apply for the job each day, a candidate applying on the first day the job ad goes live has only ten other profiles to compete with, while someone applying on day five has fifty. Early applications are more likely to get a recruiter or hiring manager’s attention. Some companies close vacancies quickly so candidates who wait too long may find the position has already been filled or that other candidates have already completed the first round of interviews.

Small details make a difference

“It’s especially important for candidates to differentiate themselves from the competition,” says Jordan Grady, Northwestern Mutual financial representative.  “Try simple tips like writing a thank you note or email to the recruiter and hiring manager after an interview. Small actions can have a significant impact, so candidates will want to look out for little opportunities to stand out.”

Research the company before an interview

Most jobseekers will know to look closely at the company’s website before their interview, but savvy candidates go beyond the official website. It pays to check the company’s social media pages, read the latest news articles that mention it, and, of course, check out the company’s profile on employer review websites. Employee reviews can provide valuable details about benefits ranging from flexible hours to life insurance, and updates about the work environment.

Learn from rejection

Rejections can be disheartening to say the least. However, jobseekers should take heart knowing that rejections are not personal. They may be for reasons beyond a candidate’s control—maybe the company went with an internal hire or decided not to hire for the position in the end. Rejections can also be a learning opportunity for candidates willing to go the extra mile. If a recruiter does not offer feedback after a rejection, it doesn’t hurt to ask. The recruiter may be able to provide useful insight. For example: a candidate may have been rejected because they didn’t have proficiency in certain software. Feedback can let jobseekers know what areas they need to work on to build a stronger profile.

Source: Northwestern Mutual

Contact: Don Klein, 1-800-323-7033

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Name: Don Klein
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