With the rise of online job boards and virtual applications, it may appear that job hunting is getting easier. After all, applicants no longer have to walk around and hand out resumes in person to make a good first impression.
However, job hunting is as difficult as ever. This is partially due to higher levels of competition.
A data report shows that while only 59 per cent of young Canadians obtained some post-secondary qualification in 2000, that number has risen to 73 per cent as of 2019.
Looking for a job can be a daunting task, but a few simple tips can really help an application stand out. Brad Semotiuk is the president of Pure Staffing Solutions, an employment agency that specializes in the manufacturing industry and primarily operates in the Greater Toronto Area. He shared advice on improving any job application.
Preparing a resume
Semotiuk has been reading resumes for almost 25 years, and the first thing he always looks at is the amount of time an applicant spent at their previous job.
“People don’t want to necessarily take chances on candidates that are jumping around from job to job to job because they get the sense that there’s potentially something that’s up with that candidate,” he says. “They don’t want to spend time training anybody, or even trusting people like that, that aren’t around for the long run.”
However, it’s important to remember that there are exceptions to this.
An article by software developer Jacob Kaplan-Moss explains that short tenure isn’t inherently a bad thing. While a pattern of short tenure may be a problem worth looking into, an applicant may have perfectly valid reasons for back-to-back job hopping. A good hiring manager will ask questions instead of immediately writing a candidate off.
Semotiuk also advises job applicants to ensure their resumes are polished and thoroughly edited.
“If I see any kind of spelling mistakes, that’s a big red flag right away,” he says. “It shows a certain level of competency of the person who is applying for work.”
Applicants should always edit their documents manually before sending them to companies since simple spell checkers tend to miss finer details. Having someone else take a look or using the Read Aloud function on Microsoft Word can help an applicant gain a new perspective on a document they’ve read multiple times.
Ensure the same application is not being used for every single job listing. Personalizing an application to the specific company and position shows employers that an applicant cares.
Personalization doesn’t have to be complex. It can be as simple as including the company and employer’s name where applicable or even catering an applicant’s qualifications to the specific job listing requirements.
Use the tools available
“There’s a lot of different databases where you can just put your resume out, and the resume will just start working for you,” he says. “Companies will go and find you in those databases, and if you have the skillset they’re looking for, they’ll approach you for positions as opposed to you having to go out and approach them.”
Semotiuk identifies LinkedIn as particularly useful for networking. He advises that applicants not only make an account but engage with content found there. Actively like and reply to people’s posts, and this way, an applicant can make themselves visible to people they may potentially want to network with in the future.
When applying for a job, standing out should always be a priority.
Semotiuk suggests following up with a company after applying. This shows that an applicant cares about the company and the status of their application.
“Make that phone call,” he says. “It’s a little scary sometimes to pick up that phone and call people, but just do it. You really want to get on people’s radar.”
When a phone call is not possible, an email or a letter are also good options. The important part is to show interest in the position and the company to help you stand out. If you are following up with an employer after you’ve had an interview with them, Indeed suggests using the same method of communication that the employer used to schedule the interview.
Job hunting can be frustrating, and it’s easy to become discouraged by today’s competition. However, it’s important to remember that no job will come easy. Just keep pushing through, and eventually, something will work out.
Semotiuk compares job hunting to fishing.
“The more lines you put in the water, the better chance you’ll have to catch that fish. Same goes with job hunting,” he says. “If you can apply to 10 different jobs that you feel you’re qualified for and interested in, you’re going to have a better chance than putting all your eggs in one basket and applying for just one or two jobs.”
Job hunting is a full-time job in itself, and it can be challenging at times. However, like a real job, the only way to gain experience is to actually go out and do it. The more you apply, the more experience you’ll have, and the process will become less daunting each time.
About the author
Kyle is a writer for Youth Mind who studied English at Wilfrid Laurier University. When he’s not writing, he enjoys art and music.