Hands up who’s ever applied for a job and not heard back?

There’s something incredibly frustrating about waiting for an email or phone call that never materialises. And even worse, not knowing why. I believe that students and recent graduates are some of the worst hit by it, and the least knowledgeable about why that may be.

I came across a handy article (EDIT: alternative link) on the top 5 reasons for not hearing back. I know for certain that I’m guilty of two of them. I regularly apply for jobs that I’m under-qualified for (under the logic of “if you don’t try, you’ll never get it”), and I often leave submitting mostly finished job applications until last minute, just in case I spot a comma out of place or think of a great new example of how I’m a good multitasker.

Sadly, students are quite likely to make a lot of these mistakes. They are often ambitious, but less experienced, and so will be under-qualified for many potential jobs. They are also used to working right up to the deadline, with no bonus for early submission. Many students and recent graduates don’t have a “keyword-optimised” CV, as it’s not something we’re ever told to do. Mine was Personal Profile-less until it was completely revamped by someone in the know. And my CV may be visually attractive, but it would be caught out by automated “talent management” processes as my employer, job title and years worked are all on the same line (a big NO when applying for popular jobs at big companies).

One skill I, and many other children of the technology age, have down pat is updating LinkedIn and other online presences as regularly as they do their CV.

As for how to avoid the trash folder, the article offers some helpful tips. The key message is, you are far more likely to hear back if you are known personally to the employer. For local companies that’s achievable, with networking and an active social presence on websites like thebestof. For national or international companies, it’s a lot trickier. There a couple of large technology companies who I think would be amazing to run events for, but it’s hard to get on their radar.

So what to do? Well, you’re reading it. I started this blog as an effort to expand my influence. The same can be done with social networking: follow your favourite companies, and RT on Twitter, comment and share on Facebook, and hopefully when your application lands on their desk and they social-media-search you, they’ll see your frequent and positive interaction with their company, rather than toss you aside.

Since moving to Guildford, I have only applied to two jobs where I didn’t already have a contact within the company. I’m also happy to say I have heard back from every job I’ve applied for since finishing with Vines. Sadly for students and graduates, it really is not what you know, but who you know. Luckily for everyone, thanks to social media, it is a lot easier to know people. Make the most of it.

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