Every one of us who has applied for jobs online has had the strange experience of being in a no man’s land. We had no idea about the job application black hole until we experienced it for ourselves. Applications go out into the ether, but no responses come back. We have unanswered questions – Did they get my application? Why didn’t they contact me? Where am I lacking? How can I improve?
Can someone please explain what is going on?
Capable candidates are reduced to despair, with their confidence shattered because they believe that something is wrong with them, not knowing that they are playing the wrong game. Well, not so much the wrong game, but they are participating in only one part of the job seeking game.
There is a sobering statistic that is general knowledge in the career coaching landscape. What would you guess is the number of jobs that are filled without ever being advertised?
Actually, the percentage number is much, much higher. Approximately 85% of jobs are filled without advertising. It’s called the hidden job market.
To answer the question about what is going on when you apply online; you are applying for a job where there may be many other candidates vying for the same job. I’ve seen up to 100, 200 applicants per job, so your odds of being noticed can be very slim.
So what will improve your chances of getting a job, including in the hidden market?
- A well-crafted Resume and a cover letter tailored to the job you are applying for.
- Introducing networking as part of your job search strategy.
- Approaching recruitment agencies, registering with them and becoming known to as many agencies as possible.
- Seek advice from recruitment consultants, people who work in your field, your careers advisers, people at career fairs and trade shows. Ask them how they broke into your field of interest, or what they would recommend you do to become more marketable.
- Check if there is a particular short course or software training you could undertake to increase your marketability.
- Let your contacts, friends and family know you are job hunting. You never know who they know.
- Apply for many, many more jobs. It’s also a numbers game, the more jobs you apply for, the more chances you have of landing one.
- Do some temping or volunteering to expand your network, gain work experience and be seen by potential employers. Then you’ll be at the “right place at the right time”.
- Use social media platforms to research companies, jobs and possible contacts. Who do you know that maybe knows those people?
Let me paint some all too common scenarios
- You’re temping at an office where unbeknownst to you, another job has become available. The manager has been impressed with you in the past 2 weeks while you have been temping and either offers you the job or asks you to apply. You are in a candidate pool of 1, or a select handful. Whether or not you want the job, your chances of getting the job if you want it is either 100% or very high as they asked you to apply.
- You tell your neighbour you are job hunting. She says, “Oh my son works in that field, maybe he can give you some pointers”. You get the contact details and politely introduce yourself and discuss strategies, possible courses you could do, and he says he knows someone who is looking for an assistant etc. Long story short, the introduction leads to a hiring because the hiring manager saves time and money in giving you a chance. You will still need to prove yourself and pass the probationary period, but you were in a candidate pool of 1.
For every worker, they will tell you about how they got their job by word of mouth, how they were headhunted or recommended, sought out or promoted, more often than not. Some people also get jobs by applying for them too; just fewer got their job that way.
The take home is that you should expand your job search strategies when job seeking.
Find out more from Maria Cordi, CIRCLE’s Career Coach if you’d like to increase your chances of landing your next job.
Recommendation from Maria Cordi Career Coach: Graduates looking for jobs should check out www.careerhub.com.au
Written by Maria Cordi BSc (Psychology), MApplSc (Psychology of Coaching)
Maria holds a Bachelor of Science, with a Psychology major and a Master of Applied Science (Psychology of Coaching) from the University of Sydney. She has a background in Human Resources and Career Planning with Westpac, worked as a Training & Development Consultant with Psychological Assessments Australia, and spent some years working with CIRCLE Recruitment & HR.
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