10 Ways You’re Killing Your Chances for an Interview

At TalentWorks, we’ve heard it all.

From submitting your resume to the wrong job (!) to sending resumes with formatting that doesn’t render correctly, it often seems as though candidates are trying to tank their chances for a job.

Once you’re at the interview stage of the applicant process, you already have a 10-15% chance of getting the position. So, how do you make it there? 

1.) Don’t be a “Team Player”

It may sound counterintuitive, but mentioning any of the following collaboration-oriented words more than twice in your resume will penalize you -50.8%:

  • team player
  • results-driven collaborator
  • supporting member
  • assisted
  • collaborated
  • helped

Why? Everyone works with a team in some capacity. As a hiring manager, how would I know how much you, the candidate, contributed. It says very little about your skills and job responsibilities which leads me to #2…

2.) Don’t be Vague

Using concrete numbers to exemplify your successes and personal impact removes any bias and gives you a +23% hireabilty boost over your competition. For every 3 sentences, use at least 1 number to demonstrate your (concrete) impact.

3.) Don’t Forget to Demonstrate Leadership

Hiring managers see “leaders” as people who are communicative, pivot easily after bumps in the road, and get the job done. We’ve found that adding strong, active, leadership-oriented words greatly helps to demonstrate your candidacy.

Some of the words we detected as strong, active words:

  • communicated
  • coordinated
  • leadership
  • managed
  • organization

(Using a combination of these words boosts your hireability by +50%!)

4.) Don’t Send the Same Resume to Every Job

While we highly recommend applying to as many jobs as you can, you need to tailor your resume. A cookie cutter resume that includes irrelevant job experiences and skills is an automatic ‘no’.

(Also, when you’re tailoring your resume/cover letter please don’t forget to change the company name!)

5.) Don’t Make Grammatical Errors

One of the last positions we advertised for had an applicant pool of which nearly 10% made dumb grammatical mistakes, such as misspellings and forgetting to include an email address. Eight out of ten times, hiring managers will dismiss the application altogether. Proofread, proofread, proofread.

6.) Don’t Apply After 4pm

Our data suggests that applying to a job before 10am can increase your odds of getting an interview by 5x! It’s admittedly tough if you already have a full-time job and the only time you may have is around lunchtime or after work. Unfortunately, those are the worst times to do so.

what-best-time-apply-for-job

The best time to apply for a job is between 6am and 10am. During this time, you have an 13% chance of getting an interview — nearly 5x as if you applied to the same job after work. Whatever you do, don’t apply after 4pm.

7.) Don’t Use Personal Pronouns

Any usage of personal pronouns (I, me, my, myself) automatically hurts your hireability by 54.7%. Yes, doing so is a bit arbitrary as you’re obviously referring to yourself, but it is a recruitment standard.

Instead, use action words and you will increase your chances of an interview by 140%. Here is an example:

Say this:

Developed a world-positive, high-impact student loan product that didn’t screw over people after 100+ customer interviews.

Not this:

After 100+ customer interviews, the world-positive, high-impact student loan product was developed by me.

 8.) Don’t Forget Buzzwords

Surprise! We’ve found that using industry jargon throughout your resume actually increases your hireability by 29.3%!

adding-industry-buzzwords-resume-tip-1.png

We recommend name dropping a buzzword every 3-6 sentences. Companies often use parsing tools to help widdle down large applicant pools and doing so will help you to get past the robots. (Avoid going overboard though, because using too much jargon can be a turn off to actual, non-robot hiring managers.)

9.) Don’t Send off Your Resume Without A Cover Letter

Although there are companies that will never explicitly ask for cover letters (or read them for that matter), you should always include one. A cover letter is an opportunity to go beyond the resume and provide information you maybe didn’t have room for in your resume such as clarifying examples. There isn’t a hiring manager out there that doesn’t appreciate the effort even if they never open the file.

10.) Don’t Include Objectives

In May, we did an analysis of the hotly debated issue of resume objectives and found that job applicants whose resume contained an objective were 29.6% less hireable.

resume-objective-is-bad-for-everyone-except-recent-grads.png

Unless you’re a recent college graduate or dramatically changing job industries, objectives hurt your chances of landing an interview. Why? They provide zero information regarding how your skills relate to the position at hand. At best, you can hope hiring managers will ignore it. At worst, it’ll give hiring managers an excuse to disqualify you.

Need more job hunting “dont’s”? There’s plenty where this came from. For $10/month we can automatically find the best jobs and pre-fill job applications for you based on your desired role, location and years of experience. In addition, you’ll get our Interview Guarantee — if we can’t get you an interview within 60 days, we’ll refund everything back to you, guaranteed. (90% of job-seekers using TalentWorks get an interview in 60 days or less).

Here’s A Trick That Will Instantly Make Your Resume Better

Looking for help in the job search can be nearly as overwhelming as the search itself. There are a million different articles full of billions of tips and tricks that will help push your resume to the top of the pile (and we’re just as guilty in creating the clutter).

There’s checklists, templates and run-downs of Never-Ever-Evers. There’s recommendations on everything from how to format a resume on down to file type and font. It’s a lot to take in. So, knowing that you have a few more tabs open to look at, we’re here to offer one simple piece of advice. No top 5, no samples to download, just one tip that will get your resume noticed.

Use task/result sentences.

That’s really it. Fix your sentence formatting in your resume and your callbacks will increase. Hiring managers are looking for people who get results and this one trick of sentence structure will make you that person.

How it works:

A resume is a list of work you’ve done. Because of that, it lends itself to rote listing of your duties and responsibilities in the past. Even if your resume is impressive, laying out your daily to-do list to a stranger is bound to make their eyes gloss over.

Task/result sentences avoid this trap by telling the manager what the outcome of your work was and the ways in which you helped the company. Rather than telling them what you did, you’re telling them how the company fared because of your work. That’s bound to stick out in a sea of drab responsibility-listing.

Any examples?

The way you’re probably writing your resume currently looks something like this:

JOB A

  • Ran the Etcetera, Etcetera Campaign
  • Handled social media outreach
  • Organized the office space

But with task/result sentences, it can look like this:

JOB A

  • Launched a fundraising campaign that raised $10,000 in 8 weeks which extended runway for X months
  • Created a social media influencer outreach campaign that led to 10K new Twitter followers and 11% increase in monthly revenue
  • Led a space planning and reorganization workshop that freed up 160 square feet of office space for the company
    Here’s an additional job search tip. Always use numbers where you can. Quantifiable impacts are much-loved by hiring managers. It makes it that much easier to pitch your worth to the people in the company.

Of course, there’s more than just sentence structure to the job search. That’s where we can help. Our ResumeOptimizer and fully automated job search suite is only $10 and guarantees that you’ll hear back from a job you want.

Job Seekers Should Use The Tight Labor Market To Their Advantage

unemployment, job search, tight labor market

Unemployment has been historically low for an improbably long time. The New York Times reported that the last time we saw such a consistently tight labor market was nearly half a century ago. That might not seem heartening on first glance if you’re looking for a job now. But trust us, the low unemployment rate can be turned to your advantage during the job search.

unemployment, job search, tight labor market
Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics

If you’re looking for a job in this particular market, there are several ways that you can make this historic period of jobs gains work for you.  

Apply For Jobs You Aren’t 100% Qualified For

When the unemployment rate hits 3.9%, the hiring managers of the nation scramble. Their bosses are looking to hire ASAP and, if the last several years are any indication, the pool of talented applicants is only getting smaller. They need bodies and they need them now, so don’t feel put off by a job whose qualifications you aren’t fully meeting.

We’ve crunched some numbers and told you before that you should be applying to jobs for which you’re 60% qualified. Go ahead and bump that number down a bit. If you’re on the fence about an application, go ahead and throw it in. The time is right.

Hit The Job Search Hard (Especially If You Aren’t A White Guy)

The need for people can counteract some of the sadder facts of the job search. Where a market that’s weighted toward the people doing the hiring allows all sorts of biases to run rampant, a tight labor market with low unemployment means that hiring managers are forced to give applications from outgroups a fair shake.

“When companies have a hiring need and it becomes acute, all of a sudden, a lot of the old stereotypes and biases fade away, because need outweighs everything else,” Tony Lee of the Society for Human Resource Management told Marketplace.

Ask For More

This is probably the single greatest asset that a job searcher receives from low unemployment. Less people competing for the same positions means that you’re free to ask for more when the dreaded salary question rears its head during the interview. The supply-and-demand problem puts applicants in a position to ask for what they want and not what they think the person on the other end of the desk wants to hear.

All that being said, the job search can still be a difficult process. Even in a time of high demand, getting an interview is not a sure thing. We hear you and we’re here to help.

For just $10, we will do it all for you: we can automatically find the best jobs and pre-fill job applications for you based on your desired role, location and years of experience. We can optimize your resume to make sure that those harried HR folks see exactly what they need to give you a call. In addition, you’ll get our Interview Guarantee — if we can’t get you an interview within 60 days, we’ll refund everything back to you, guaranteed. It’s an easy bet for us to make: 90% of job-seekers using TalentWorks get an interview in 60 days or less.

Looking Back on 2017: What I Learned on My Job Search and How I Plan to Rock 2018

2017…what a year. I can’t say I’m sorry to see it go! When my husband and I were both laid off over the summer, I had no idea how we were going to bounce back. Luckily, it wasn’t as bad as it could have been. We both found new opportunities within a couple months, which I’m very thankful for. 2017 will go down as the year I took the biggest risk in my career yet, and I’m still not quite sure how it will turn out. I guess I’ll find out in 2018.

Here’s what I learned during the great job hunt of 2017:

  • When they say the pay is “competitive”, sometimes they mean it’s competitive on Mars.
  • I got comfortable with saying “no”. Sometimes it even resulted in a better offer.
  • I started asking the questions I used to be too afraid to ask, such as how do you handle conflict as a manager? Regardless of the response, I got the answers I needed to make the best decision possible.
  • Sometimes they ask for a unicorn, but they’ll settle for a pony.
  • It’s okay if they don’t like what they see in me—having to be someone I’m not at work is way too stressful.
  • Being a comedian is probably not in my future, but I still love to make people laugh.
  • I need to work on listening to my instincts. There were a few times I ignored them this year (because I wanted them to be wrong) and ended up having a negative experience. Denial has never gotten me what I wanted in life.
  • If an employer is treating me poorly during the hiring process or they make commitments they don’t keep, I can walk away.
  • Sometimes what seems like a dream job is far from it. And sometimes a “boring” sounding job can be so much more than expected. I can’t judge an opportunity too soon.
  • I need to work for a cause I believe in—that’s when my best stories come out of me.
  • My cover letter and resume can always be better—even when I think I’ve nailed it this time.
  • Some employers will give you feedback when you ask how you can better present yourself (whether it’s your resume, portfolio, or interview skills). I asked for the first time this year—and the answer was almost never what I expected.
  • When describing my accomplishments, I embraced the importance of data and statistics and dropped the pointless adjectives.
  • Being a woman in a male-dominated profession (video production, in my case) is still an uphill battle. But it’s not one I intend to give up.
  • Being a woman with ADHD is a challenge. It’s also a gift—my imagination has no bounds, people.
  • Rejection still sucks—it will always suck—but the faster I move on, the faster I get over it. There will always be other opportunities.
  • I found myself disappointed a lot this year. Maybe I need to re-adjust my expectations or maybe I need to fight harder for change. More than likely, it’s a little of both.
  • Taking two part-time opportunities with two very different organizations isn’t exactly conventional, but the conventional route hasn’t taken me where I want to go so far. So, why not?

As I said above, I’m taking the unconventional route, splitting my time between two very different organizations—a start up and a large non profit—and writing for the awesome folks at TalentWorks. But I plan to go into 2018 with an open mind. I’m excited about all the possibilities. What stories will I dream up? What will I learn about these new industries I’m in? How many new people will I get to know and work with this year?

So, how do I plan to rock 2018? 

  • I’m going to keep asking questions. Why are we doing things this way? Can we do it better or more efficiently?
  • Being an introvert, it can be hard for me to develop new working relationships. But in 2017 I learned just how important those working relationships can be. I plan to make an extra effort to get to know my colleagues this year.
  • I’m going to push back when I need to, even when it’s intimidating.
  • I’m going to make it a point to learn something new.
  • I need to practice better self-care and set boundaries. In particular, this means not checking work email or thinking about work issues when I’m off the clock and making exercise, wholesome meals, and proper sleep a priority. I’m more productive at work and at home when I have “me” time.
  • No matter how well things are going, I know I can lose my job tomorrow. It’s time for me to start taking “saving for a rainy day” seriously.
  • If I find myself needing to hunt for a job, I’m going to be more selective about the roles I apply for. Unless I need a survival job, I’d rather wait to find the right job than take a role that’s wrong for me.

What about you? What did you learn this year in your job search that you’ll apply in 2018?

All I Want for Christmas Is My Dream Job

With one rough year coming to a close and a new year ahead, a seemingly blank canvas, I’ve been doing a lot of dreaming. A lot of assessing where I am, how I got here, and what I want for my future. But I’ll leave that assessment for my next post.

Right now I want to dream with a mug of hot cocoa next to me. Care to join me in a little self-indulgence?

Most of us have to work for a living—there’s no escaping that. And, let’s face it, there are a lot of crappy jobs out there. But what if you could hop on a computer and design your dream job? What would it look like? What would you be doing? Sometimes, when we allow ourselves to dream, no holds barred, we realize what we think we want and what we actually want are very different.

My “dream” job looks different this year than it did last year. I’d been managing creative departments for a few years, and I was hoping to finally land my coveted role—Creative Director. Things didn’t go as planned. And you know what? It changed me. In fact, it changed my entire outlook on what I thought I wanted.

So, what does my dream job look like now?

  • I’m be doing what I love most in life—inspiring and being inspired. I’m a storyteller at heart, but I’m a restless storyteller. It’s not enough for me to just type words on a page. I want to create entire visual experiences. My dream job would involve telling stories through design, video, music, and photography.
  • No more 60-hour weeks. I want work-life balance, even if it means a salary cut or taking a less glamorous job title. A title is just that—a title. Being able to experience life on my terms, with those I love most, is more important than anything else.
  • I’m working for an important cause—anything involving animal rescue is a big passion of mine. But I’m also passionate about helping and inspiring others with disabilities and promoting youth literacy. I want more kids to read and I want them to dream big. If I can help make that happen, I will.
  • I have time to keep writing books for kids and young adults. The letters I get from young adults who’ve been helped in some way by my books inspire me to keep growing and keep dreaming. There are so many stories inside of me left to tell.
  • The people I work with don’t have to be perfect. We all get grumpy. We all disagree—life would be boring if we agreed all the time. But I like my team to be passionate about what they do, creative, and open to new ideas and perspectives. I thrive best in open communication environments where we are free to speak our minds and share our best ideas. We can laugh at ourselves and we aren’t afraid to be goofy just for the hell of it. Where people say – what can we do to make this better instead of this is just how things are. Change is possible if you want it badly enough.
  • A guacamole bar would be nice. Just sayin’.
  • A flexible work environment that lets me work where I’m most productive. Sometimes that’s having a brainstorming session with my team (in person), sometimes it’s at home, and sometimes it’s on top of a mountain. As long as the work gets done and we’re successful, does it really matter?
  • A manager or leader who has faith in me and my strengths. They give me autonomy and creative freedom in my area of expertise until I give them a reason not to.
  • Hiking meetings. Who says we can’t have a meeting, enjoy nature, and get some great exercise at the same time? Talk about efficiency.
  • Lastly, I’d like to bring my beloved cat (and best coworker ever) to my place of work.

Your turn! Tell us what your dream job would look like?