Looking for work in 2019? Things may be different than the last time you searched.

Last month we released our definitive guide to the science of the job search, which offered a comprehensive analysis about the job search landscape in 2018. With a wealth of information and data to help you put your best foot forward in terms of your job search, we also recognize that no two years (or job searches) are alike which brings us to…

Surprise! This year is different

There are tons of variables when searching for a new job — individual requirements, experience level, age, application processes, the list goes on. What may have been a straightforward process in the past is now full of nuances and surprises. What’s more is the increasing feeling that searching for a job is a part-time job in and of itself. While we like to think our research gives us a good idea of what to expect, we wanted to talk to the people who are going through the process right now to find out, more specifically, what’s different this time around. What makes 2019 different?

This time last year I was overconfident and a bit egotistical about my job search. I took a semi-passive approach – assuming they would contact me. However after a few months I realized my resume needed work, my cover letter (if I even had one) needed updating, and I needed to keep my resume updated as often as I update my Facebook status…

— Patrick D., Sales Manager

To put it simply: Even if you’ve done this before, don’t expect the search to be the same.

More jobs are available

Despite some challenges in the market, the fact is there’s a pretty significant increase in jobs available now than in previous years — over 200% in certain industries. The folks we surveyed reported wide-ranging observations of the increase of job availability specific to their situation — with job seekers increasing their experience and different fields growing, there are an influx of jobs available; there are even more options for both employees and employers, making for a difficult decision making process.

Survey says…

We talked to folks in all different stages of their careers, from recent college graduates to seasoned professionals. It’s only a few weeks into the New Year, but some common themes emerged. To start, 60% of people starting the job search in 2019 are still employed. We know from experience that people who showed they were currently employed (even if creatively) saw a +149% hireability boost.

More does not necessarily equate to an easier search —

“There are more jobs available, but the market is more competitive in the new city I’ve relocated to.”

— Travis S., Content Creator

60% also expect their current search to take longer than previous search. Why do people expect this search to take longer than previous ones? Well, for starters, 23% of that 60% have already been at it for a long time. In some cases, responders reported having been in full-fledged job search mode for 7-8 months. One user even stated they have been at it since November 2017.

We know people are looking, but what exactly do they want?

A whopping 70% are looking because they want a higher salary.

“In the last 10 years, total compensation for 90th percentile income earners went up by 26% compared to a 21% increase for 10th percentile income earners — but the real gap was in benefits, where the value of benefits for 90th percentile earners went up 37% compared to a mere 15% increase for 10th percentile earners.”

— The 2019 Job Search Landscape

It’s not surprising a higher salary is at the forefront of many job searches. As experience is gained, worth increases. Not to mention the cost of living is skyrocketing across the United States. The statistic above may not sound promising, but there are some things we can recommend.

What should job seekers expect?

The general blueprint of a job search is more or less predictable — from polishing your resumé and crafting the perfect cover letter, to filling out as many applications as you can (which we aim to streamline to save you time for the other surprises), to preparing for an interview and waiting, for what seems like an eternity, for a callback…

That doesn’t mean the 2019 search will be the same as years prior, though. over 90 % of our survey respondents said the job search feels inexplicably different this time around. But why?

Search criteria has changed

Gone are the days of staying in the same career from graduation to retirement. The minimum amount of time necessary to “build” one’s resume at a particular job are decreasing. Interests, requirements, and general life circumstances all contribute to the changing climate of the search.

“I will finish my Bachelor’s in a few months and am looking for a career in my chosen field rather than part-time work I have looked for in the past.”

— PJ D., Software Engineer

Entry-level jobs require more experience

How in the world are you supposed to build your resumé if your first career in the job force requires 3+ years of experience? We tackled this subject last Spring, but the experience paradox is still weighing on people’s minds. “[It seems] more and more entry-level positions are requiring professional experience in my field.” One TalentWorks user indicated the perils of not being able to start their search in a new career field because they were not qualified to even begin the application process until they completed the necessary certifications.

What can you do about this?

  • Apply for Jobs Within ±2 Years of Your Experience — You miss 100% of the shots you don’t take. From what we see, if you’re within ±2 years of required experience, hiring managers will often consider you “close enough.”
  • Use Freelance Jobs To Build Your Experience —Not only will you get paid, you’ll also have far higher chances getting your second job (everyone else’s first job).

Full details: 61% of “Entry-Level” Jobs Require 3+ Years of Experience

The application process is different, and so are employer expectations

Respondents reported companies wanting more for less (in addition to experience), such as more skills for less pay. That’s clearly not ideal — you deserve what you’re worth! Moreover, the application process can feel like one giant black-hole. Everything is automated and there’s no opportunity for personal touch, which can feel pretty discouraging.

With an influx of recruiters, the same positions are being submitted over and over again. The result? Companies are overwhelmed with the same applicants being submitted by different recruiters and agencies.

Want to cheat the system? Our AI-driven system saves you time, energy, and ensures you’re getting out a record number of applications. We even optimize the time and day of your application so it doesn’t fall into the blackhole.

Changing expectations

We know, it’s easier said than done. While we have a wealth of data available about the specifics of the job search, there’s a very human element that cannot be distilled in a set of numbers.

As people move through their career, pursue further education, explore the world of entrepreneurship, and experience the unpredictability of life in general, expectations for a new job can change, and may need to change due to life circumstances.

“For better or for worse, I’m focused on a few narrow, but related fields, rather than general fields.”

— Tracy B., Operations Leader

“I don’t know where I fit. I have loads of specialist skills. I’ve had similar jobs to what I’m looking for, but interviews demand much more and things change so quickly in my field…” 

— Amanda L., Digital Content

Expectations from employers are moving targets that can take anyone by surprise, but don’t let the fluidity knock you out of your element. Be humble; remain confident.

Take the surprise in stride

Even when you think you might know, you might not really know…surprises in the job search don’t have to mean completely recalibrating everything you once felt comfortable with in the search. It does mean, though, utilizing different tools to help you be successful, and staying positive — no matter what variables are present in the current job search climate.

Not prepared to go at it alone? We’ve got your back. Let us take care of the most consuming parts of the job search for you.

Outside sources:

The Definitive Guide to the Science of the Job Search — 2018 In Review

Back in January, we announced our Science of the Job Search series — a real-world, data-driven look at what made some people hireable (and others not). What a year it’s been! It:

  • Instantly went viral, skyrocketing to the frontpage of Reddit in its first 6 hours;
  • Was featured on NBC, Forbes, Daily Caller, Fast Company, TechCrunch, US News and several other top news agencies.
  • Reached 1M+ readers from 18,396 cities (hi Fargo!) across 209 countries. (Alas, no one from Guinea-Bissau.)

We’ve published several dozen tips across 11 blog posts. There’s some really good stuff buried in there but, well, it’s buried. So, to cap off 2018, we’re republishing a skimmable, definitive summary of the 35 top discoveries from the 2018 Science of the Job Search:

12 Resume Tips — AKA: People Do Judge a Book By Its Cover

#1-3: Delete Your Objective [+30% BOOST]

If you have 1+ years of experience, you should delete your objective. (See one more exception below.) Although it varies based on your specific experience, you’ll likely see a big hireability boost.

Exception: If you have less than ~8 months of experience, you might want to consider adding an objective. Given that your application probably looks really similar to other folks’ applications, this’ll help you stand out.

Exception: If you’re in a mission-driven field, you should add an objective. Your qualifications matter, but passion and trust matter even more.

Full Details: Job Applicants with Resume Objectives Were ~30% Less Hireable.

#4: Name-Drop Concrete Skills In Your Objective (If You Include One)

Most objectives suck. Why? Here are a few recent ones we’ve seen:

Focused and hard-working individual looking to develop new skills to serve the greater good.

To acquire, and maintain employment. To utilize the training and skills I’ve received in the past 5 years.

As a hiring manager, I don’t really care if you want to “maintain employment.” (This is a bit like saying your hamburger is 100% beef. If that’s the best compliment you can give yourself, you have a bigger problem.)

If you absolutely have to include an objective, focus on your concrete skills help differentiate you from others. Here are a few examples for applicants who were 30-50% more hireable than their competition:

Seeking a customer service position where I can utilize my multi-tasking abilities and attention to detail to assist in a fast-paced environment. Skills: real-world clerical experience, organizational skills, interpersonal skills.

Summa cum laude graduate with BS in communications studies, graduated May 2015. Proficient in Spanish.

Exception: Don’t add an objective unless you really need to.

Full Details: Job Applicants with Resume Objectives Were ~30% Less Hireable.

#5: Demonstrate Results With Numbers [+40% BOOST]

Every 3 sentences, use at least 1 number to demonstrate your (concrete) impact. Folks who did that saw gain a +40.2% boost over their competition.

I’ve personally hired 100+ people over my career and, during that time, I’ve probably personally reviewed 10,000+ resumes. Even if a resume passes your sniff test, the hardest thing is separating what’s real vs. what’s pink, fluffy, sugar-y cotton-candy-coated horsecrap. Quantifying how you made an impact with numbers goes a long way towards helping hiring managers tell them apart fast.

Full Details: 13 Data-Backed Ways To Win

#6: Don’t Be a “Team Player” [+51% BOOST]

Everyone talks about how important teamwork is. And how our whole economy is becoming about sharing. And collaboration. Lots of it. It’s very cute.

When it comes to actually hiring someone though, the most collaborative candidates get penalized by 50.8% by hiring managers. If that doesn’t make sense, consider these

  1. Owned, analyzed and delivered on-time financial reports for business sub-unit A to management team on monthly basis.
  2. Collaborated with full analyst team to create monthly financial reports for management team.
  3. Assisted management team by creating monthly financial reports as a supporting member of the analysis team.

Who would you hire? (Or call for an interview?) In the 2nd and 3rd case, I have no idea what work you did (vs. free-loading off your team). Lots of collaborative, team-oriented words have passive, subordinate, weasel-word undertones.

#7: Use Leadership Words To Convey Strength [+51% BOOST]

The converse of avoiding weasel words is also true. Adding strong, active, leadership-oriented words also helps you. Some of the words we detected as strong, active words:

communicated
coordinated
leadership
managed
organization

Even if you’re just an intern somewhere, you can still demonstrate leadership traits by proactively communicating with co-workers. Your future bosses want to know that!

Incorporate 1-2 leadership-oriented words every 5 sentences. Job applicants who used strong, active, leadership-oriented words saw a +50.9% boost over the competition.

#8: Don’t Use Personal Pronouns [+55% BOOST]

People who used even one personal pronoun (“you”, “he”, “she”, “me”, etc.) in their employment section had a 54.7% lower chance of getting an interview callback from a hiring manager.

Looking at the underlying resumes, the problem isn’t actually the pronouns themselves — instead, it’s that people who used such pronouns disproportionately had a weak, long-winded writing style. But, why risk it? Don’t use personal pronouns.

And while you’re at it, write succinct, strong sentences. The Elements of Style never goes out of style.

#9: Include 15-20 Industry and Posting Buzzwords  [+59% BOOST]

You should add 15-20 skills, buzzwords & acronyms to your resume. This is associated with a +58.8% boost in hireability on average.

It’s actually quite hard to do this without sounding awkward. In practice, we suggest including a Key Skills section where you can include common buzzwords from the job posting.

#10: Force An Objective Playing Field [+70% BOOST]

Between the two people below, who would you hire?

Helped increase sales by 31% by working with Operations Manager to reduce time to 1st customer reply.

Collaborated with Operations Manager to improve customer reply times.

The first guy, right? It’s just better. But beyond it just sounding far more impressive, there’s actually another effect going on here.

We’ll get back to this in the discrimination section below, but unless your rich uncle owns the company or you’ve somehow got the wink-wink-nudge-nudge connection, it forces a hiring manager to hire you (and reject) others on your (objective) merits. Even if some other applicant does have the rich uncle hook-up, it makes it that much harder for the hiring manager to reject you.

Full Details: Racism, Outgroup Bias and KFC

#11: Start Achievements With (Distinct) Action Verbs [+140% BOOST]

If you start the sentence describing what you did with an action verb, you’re off to a strong start. And if you describe the different things that you did at that company with different action verbs, you’ll have finished strong.

Say what? In short, 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.

Full Details: 13 Data-Backed Ways To Win

And, finally, last but not least:

#12: Squeeze 475-600 Words Into Your 1-Page Resume [+75% BOOST]

There’s a clear sweet spot for resume length: between 475 and 600 words. Unsurprisingly, this corresponds to a densely-packed single page resume. 

Exception: If you’re in teaching, research or social service fields, this explicitly does not apply. We don’t have enough data in these cases to make a quantitative recommendation, but see lots of cases anecdotally where resume extend to 2-3 pages.

Full Details: Your Chances of an Interview Plummet If Your Resume Is Too Long

9 Job Search Tips — AKA: Life Definitely Isn’t Fair*

[* Your actual qualifications matter less than you think. There are dozens of variables that affect your hireability, including the day of the week you apply for a job.]

#13-14: Apply on Mondays (Don’t Apply on Fridays) [+46% BOOST]

Timing has a surprising effect on how likely you are to get an interview callback — this the first of three related tips.

In short, apply on Mondays — you have a 46% higher chance of getting an interview callback. If you apply on Sunday or during the middle of the week, you have a reasonable chance. But, whatever you do, don’t apply on Fridays or Saturdays.

Why? Imagine how you feel on Friday afternoons — you’re probably just trying to plow through your open tasks so you can get home and relax. Unless someone’s especially promising, that Friday afternoon job application is just another email standing between you and your weekend.

#15: Apply in the First 4 Days [+65% BOOST]

Applying early gets you a +64.7% boost over your competition on average. (Although it can make up to an 8x difference for a single job application, most people aren’t applying at the worst possible time.)

Full Details: Getting Ghosted on Your Job Applications? Here’s Fix #1: Apply Within 96 Hours

#16: Apply Before 10am [+89% BOOST]

Applying between 6am and 10am gives you an +89.1% boost over your competition. (As above, your competition isn’t applying at the worst possible time so you don’t get the full 5x boost every time.)

Full Details: You’re 5x More Likely to Get a Job Interview If You Apply by 10am

#17: Meeting ~50% of Job “Requirements” Is Good Enough [+192% BOOST]

Project Manager needed. Must have 5+ years of experience, be Six Sigma certified, have advanced deep learning knowledge, and be able to perform surgery on occasion.

Who really has all that? Turns out, basically no one. You’re as likely to get a job interview meeting 50% of job requirements as meeting 90% of them.

Put simply:

  • if you meet <30% of a job’s requirements, you’re in trouble — you have a <5% chance of getting an interview callback.
  • if you meet 40-50% of the requirements, you’re +85% more hireable.
  • if you meet 50-60%, you’re +192% more hireable.
  • after 60%, it doesn’t really matter.

Even if you met 90% of a job’s requirements on paper, you’re still basically as hireable as if you met 60% of those requirements.

You should absolutely apply for a job if you meet 50%+ of a job’s requirements.

Exception: If you’re a woman, see below.

Full Details: You Only Need 50% of Job “Requirements”

#18: Apply for Jobs Within ±2 Years of Your Experience

Jr. Marketing Assistant. Perfect for new grads! Requirements: 3 years of digital marketing experience. Compensation: $12/hour.

The job search can feel like one big Catch-22: “How the hell am I supposed to get experience if I can’t get a job to get experience?” In fact, after analyzing a random sample of 95,363 jobs, we discovered that 61% of all full-time “entry-level” jobs require 3+ years of experience.

You don’t have to play by their rules. Based on our analysis, you can successfully apply to jobs if you’ve got ±2 years of the required experience.

Full Details: 61% of “Entry-Level” Jobs Require 3+ Years of Experience

#19-20: Apply For Mid-Level Jobs After 5+ Years of Experience

Employers are a superstitious bunch. How many jobs have you seen asking for 13 years of work experience? They’ll ask for 7, 10 and 15 years (but rarely 11-14). You can see job postings clump up by employers’ “lucky numbers” in the graph above.

But, here’s the rub— this isn’t just a cute gimmick. It lets us pinpoint how much experience you’ll (officially) need to qualify for different levels of jobs:

Level# Years of Experience% Jobs Qualified
Entry-Level~3 years75%
Mid-Level~5 years77%
Senior-Level~8 years72%

#21: Apply to 150-250 Jobs

Getting a job is hard. Even if you’re fully qualified, it can take 90+ days to get a job today in America.

 

Depending on your experience and industry, you’ll probably get an interview 5-15% of the time. Depending on how good you are in those interviews, you’ll probably get a job offer ~10% for any given interview.

If you work out the math, your chances of getting a job offer for any single application work out to, well, basically zero — 1%±0.5%.

And when you work out that math, depending on your experience, industry and interviewing ability, you basically need to apply to 150-250 jobs to be confident of getting a job offer.

Full Details: Why Is It So Hard To Get a Job?

3 (Harder) Employment Tips — AKA: When Good Things Go Bad…

#22: (Don’t) Go Back to School [+22% BOOST]

A lot of people think that they have to go back to school to build experience or credibility. Although it does help, it’s usually not worth it.

Having a 2nd degree boosts your chances of getting an interview by +21.9%. Except in rare scenarios, you should not go back to school for a 2nd degree just to improve your job prospects. When you factor in opportunity cost, you usually come out behind — it’s just not worth it.

Full Details: 13 Data-Backed Ways To Win

#23: Keep Working, Somewhere If You’re Trying To Leave [+149% BOOST]

Is your New Year’s resolution to get a new job? Whether you’ve been laid off, can’t stand your current job or just think you need a new challenge, don’t quit just yet. Or, find a (creative) way to show that you’re currently employed on your resume. Trying to get a job from a cold start is hard.

People who showed they were currently employed (even if creatively) saw a +149% hireability boost compared to their previously-fired or laid-off competition.

Full Details: Getting Fired (or Laid Off) Costs You ~5 Years of Experience

#24: Tough It Out for 9+ Months If You Can [+85% BOOST]

American hiring managers are suspicious of job applicants who left a job in less than 15-16 months.

More specifically, there was a big difference between leaving after 6 vs. 9 vs. 18 months. People whose shortest job was 9+ months were 85% more hireable than people whose shortest job was 8 months or less.

Objectively speaking, your hireability is still severely affected if you leave after 12 months. Staying 18 months fully protects you from future employer suspicion.

Full Details: Getting Fired (or Laid Off) Costs You ~5 Years of Experience

Special Issues — AKA: Discrimination Isn’t Just For Minorities

2 Tips for Entry-Level Job-Seekers

#25: Identify (Actually) Entry-Level Jobs

Let’s be honest: looking for jobs is a *!@$* pain in the ass. Of a random sample of 95,363 jobs we analyzed, 52% (49,245) were supposedly entry-level (based on what the employer said). Of those, my job-searcher — a Marketing Assistant in LA — was only interested in 3% (1,286). Of those 1,286 supposedly entry-level Marketing Assistant and other jobs, I found 240 for actual entry-level Marketing Assistants.

It’s painful work, but someone’s gotta do it. If you’ve got the patience and the time (and stubbornness), rock on! If you don’t, you can pay us $10 to do it (and other stuff) for you.

Full Details: 61% of “Entry-Level” Jobs Require 3+ Years of Experience

#26: Use Freelance Jobs To Build Your Experience

One way to break past the job search Catch-22 is to play a different game. Instead of fighting with everyone else to get that first job, you can instead build up your work experience by doing freelance jobs on the side.

Not only will you get paid, you’ll also have far higher chances getting your 2nd job (everyone else’s 1st job). In the future, especially when experience inflation means you need 4+ years of experience to get your firstjob, this might be the only way to break into your job.

Full Details: 61% of “Entry-Level” Jobs Require 3+ Years of Experience

2 Tips for Older Job-Seekers [+268% BOOST]

The best age to get a job is between 28 and 35. During this time, you get a +25.1% hireability boost over everyone else. Up to age 28, your hireability is increasing by +9% every year. After age 35, your hireability drops by 8% every year.

#27: Remove Your Graduation Date If You’re 35+

Here’s the thing: Hiring managers (subconsciously) guess your age based on your graduation date, how much work experience you have, etc. If you don’t list your graduation date, they can’t tell how old you are.

This obviously won’t get you past subtler age discrimination in an interview (give us a call for that), but it will at least get you past the first few filters.

Full Details: 61% of “Entry-Level” Jobs Require 3+ Years of Experience

#28: Don’t List More Than 3-4 Jobs

Removing your graduation date doesn’t help if you show your first job starting as May 1985. Show the most recent 3-4 jobs and summarize the remainder in a Key Skills and/or Employment Summary section.

Full Details: 61% of “Entry-Level” Jobs Require 3+ Years of Experience

3 Tips for Minorities [+287% BOOST]

I really hate being politically correct. Why? It makes it harder to talk about and fix real problems — sometimes, the very root causes of why we’re having to be politically correct in the first place.

So, let’s get right down to it. Minorities face stereotypes. Whether those stereotypes are justified or not, they’re very real and have very real effects, especially in the job search. What we’ve found is that while they’re bad for everyone, certain resume mistakes are catastrophic for minorities if they reinforce those stereotypes.

What are those stereotypes? Grossly over-simplifying: African-Americans are lazy welfare queens, Hispanic-Americans are mooching off healthcare and Asian-Americans can’t (or won’t) learn English.

#29: African- & Hispanic-Americans: Fill In Resume Gaps

Although they’re bad for everyone, resume gaps appear to be especially catastrophic for African-Americans and Hispanic-Americans. Make sure you remove or fully explain any resume gaps.

Full Details: Racism, Outgroup Bias and KFC

#30: Asian- & Hispanic-Americans: Triple-Check Your Grammar and Spelling

Again, although they’re bad for everyone, spelling and grammar mistakes are catastrophic for Asian-Americans (and to a lesser extent, Hispanic-Americans).

(This and the above are less hireability boosts and more avoiding catastrophic hireability penalties.)

Full Details: Racism, Outgroup Bias and KFC

#31: Force an Objective Playing Field [+199% BOOST]

Unlike the above, which are about avoiding mistakes, there’s something proactive you can do to level the playing field.

Although everyone benefited when they forced an objective playing field (tip #9 above), it had a massively greater effect for minorities and almost equalized the effects of the uneven playing field. Roughly speaking, forcing an objective playing field closed the racial discrimination gap in hiring by 54% (a 1.6x race penalty vs. 2.3x originally).

Full Details: Racism, Outgroup Bias and KFC

2 Tips for Women

As many others have noted, one of the biggest challenges that many women face in the workplace is second-guessing themselves. This applies in everything from salary negotiations to staff meetings to, you guessed it, the job search.

We’ve seen two especially interesting things in our analyses that reinforce the same basic point: When women do ask for what they deserve, they’re rewarded for it (more than men).

#32: Apply If You Meet 30%+ of Job “Requirements”

Whereas men have to meet ~50% of job requirements to be a viable candidate for a job interview, women only have to meet ~30% of job requirements.

Full Details: You Only Need 50% of Job “Requirements”

#33: Don’t Second-Guess Your Qualifications

But, here’s the twist: although hiring managers are willing to accept women who meet ~30% of their job requirements, 64% of women took themselves out of the running for jobs where they met the 50% “good enough” bar we suggest for everyone (let alone the 30% bar above). For comparison, only 37% of men did.

Put another way: Employers think you’re qualified. Stop telling yourself that you’re not.

Full Details: You Only Need 50% of Job “Requirements”

2 Tips for Laid-Off Job-Seekers

#34: Apply to Companies With <500 Employees [+192% BOOST]

The #1 thing you can do to mitigate a recent layoff or firing? Focus your job search on small- to medium-sized employers. Applications to companies with <500 employees had a 192% higher interview rate. For every additional 1,000 employees, the hireability for people with work blemishes dropped by 19%.

Full Details: Getting Fired (or Laid Off) Costs You ~5 Years of Experience

#35: Don’t List Jobs Shorter Than ~9 Months [+85% BOOST]

When hiring managers see a short job stint, they don’t know if it’s because you were fired (because you were bad at your job), laid off (officially not your fault, but sometimes still a flag), or quit early (which might mean you’re unreliable). American hiring managers are suspicious of job applicants whose shortest employment lasted less than 16 months.

Full Details: Getting Fired (or Laid Off) Costs You ~5 Years of Experience

Summary

So, to summarize: Demonstrate results with numbers. Don’t be a “team player.” Use leadership words to convey strength. Don’t use personal pronouns. Include 15-20 industry and posting buzzwords. Force an objective playing field. Start achievements with (distinct) action verbs. Squeeze 475-600 words into your 1-page resume. Apply on Mondays (don’t apply on Fridays or Saturdays). Apply in the first 4 days. Apply before 10am. Meeting ~50% of job “requirements” is good enough. Apply for jobs within ±2 years of your experience. Apply for mid-level jobs after 5+ years of experience. Apply to 150-250 jobs. (Don’t) go back to school. Keep working, somewhere if you’re trying to leave. Tough it out for 9+ months if you can. Identify (actually) entry-level jobs. Use freelance jobs to build your experience. Remove your graduation date if you’re 35+. Don’t list more than 3-4 jobs. Fill in resume gaps. Triple-check your grammar and spelling. Force an objective playing field. Apply if you meet 30%+ of job “requirements”. Don’t second-guess your qualifications. Apply to companies with <500 employees. Don’t list jobs shorter than ~9 months.

Easy peasy. You got this, right? Great. Now do that for every job you have to apply to and we’ll pretty much guarantee that you get the job you deserve.

Or, you can sign up for TalentWorks — we’ll just take care of it all for you! (No, seriously. [*]) Let us help you get back to a level-playing field.

[*] For most things, we can just automatically take care of it for you. For instance:

  • Our AI-driven ApplicationAssistant automatically optimizes the day of week, time of day & delay of your application so you don’t have to worry about keeping track of 100+ applications.
  • Our ResumeOptimizer will instantly scan your resume for all of the potential issues above in addition to dozens of others.

 


Why Are We Doing This?

With TalentWorks right now, we can boost the average job-seeker’s hireability by 580%. But, what makes TalentWorks work has been an internal company secret until now. We’re fundamentally a mission-driven company and we believe we can help more people by sharing our learnings. So, that’s exactly what we’re doing.

Creative Commons

We’re not only sharing this but also sharing all of it under the Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike license. In other words, as long as you follow a few license terms, this means you can:

  • Share: Copy, redistribute the material in any medium or format.
  • Adapt: Remix, transform, and build upon the material.

How Long Should A Cover Letter Be?

Dear Sarah,

I’m applying for jobs and I have NO IDEA how long my cover letter should be.  I want to fully explain my skills to hiring managers but I also don’t want their eyes to glaze over. I want to ensure that it actually gets read and not skimmed (or worse, tossed). How long should the ideal cover letter be?

Possibly Rambling

 

Hey PR,

Cover letters are hard enough to begin with. They ask the applicant to do something unnatural: tell other people what they’re good at. Like nicknames, there are certain qualities that you can’t bestow upon yourself.

It’s impossible to know if you’re a hard worker, a quick thinker or a “team player.” Side note: under no circumstances should you call yourself a team player. But that’s exactly what the average HR professional needs to know about you to separate you from the other applicants swarming their inbox.

It’s an uncomfortable situation and people in dicey spots tend to babble, looking to span the gap by kicking their feet in the air over the canyon until they land on the other side. If you don’t believe it, I’ve gone three paragraphs and I haven’t even arrived at the question yet! Ipso facto and a QED.

The short answer on how long a cover letter should be is one page. The proof is in the name. It’s meant to be a single page that covers your resume. Back in the antediluvian days of shoe leather and working your way up from the mailroom, it was a way to make the application you handed to someone a little neater than an easily chucked or lost piece of paper. And both the practice and the appropriate length have carried over into our age of surrealist memes and reality TV presidents.

As anybody who has ever gone to college can tell you, a page can fit a widely divergent amount of words. And that’s before you make your periods one font size larger (not that we ever did that). To avoid confusion, let’s say that a cover letter should be four to five paragraphs long. Here’s a few tips about how to fill out that space:

  • Address the letter to a person if you’re sure of their identity. Otherwise, use “Dear Hiring Manager.” Avoid the phrase “To Whom It May Concern” at all costs.
  • The first paragraph should explain why you’re interested in the job and how your values align with the mission of the company.
  • The second and third paragraph should broach your work history and explain how it’s relevant to the job at hand. They should move from broadly relevant to the position to specific to the job offered.
  • The final paragraph should reiterate your excitement about the position and put the idea of talking to you in the near future into the hiring manager’s head

One final tip before I go: while no one likes writing cover letters, it’s best to avoid using a canned cover letter for every application. The average job opening sees hundreds of applicants and hiring managers are better than most at sniffing out someone who didn’t try. Create a basic cover letter template that hits on the key points about you and then customize it based on the opening and the qualifications spelled out in the listing.

Best of luck!

ask-sarah

ask-sarah

 

Tips for Older Millennials Looking For Family Friendly Jobs

According to our data, the best age for both men and women to get a job is 28 to 35. It’s a sweet spot in your career where you automatically have a 25.1% chance of being hired compared to other age brackets.

Why? Well, it could be indicative of this age bracket’s ability to be flexible in terms of opportunity and salary (i.e.: you’re young enough to take entry-level positions and old enough to have proven yourself as senior level managers). I’d be remiss not to mention that this data validates a stark reality: ageism in the workplace. (God forbid, you’re a 36 year old software engineer or 45 year old educator looking for work).

Sweet Spot on Hiring Chart

In any case, it’s simply the best time to be a job candidate. This age bracket also happens to represent the “most ideal” time to start a family, both financially and scientifically depending on how many kids you would want. Although there are wonderfully effective ways to delay parenthood such as IVF (a treatment 100% covered as a perk in many large companies and counting [yay!]), this is a dilemma that working women especially must weigh at some point, specifically: how do I maintain my career at this pivotal point while planning for kids?

Enter the “family-friendly” work environment.

It’s a job perk that is quickly becoming the new standard at companies driven by a millennial/young Gen X workforce. In an age where equally shared bread-winning and child-rearing is the preferred norm, it only makes sense to accommodate the talent you want to retain. “Family-friendly” work environments are employers that understand that life happens and provide their staff with the necessary flexibility to be a parent. It’s one thing to offer telecommuting opportunities, but if your employees are made to feel guilty about doing so it’s not a perk.

“Employers are beginning to realize that a family-friendly workplace benefits the business as well as the employee. Companies that offer flexibility and family-friendly policies generally experience increased employee productivity, less turnover, and lower absenteeism. This trend, combined with increased demand for flexibility amongst workers, is making the family-friendly workplace more of the rule than the exception.”

Erin Feldman , Sr. TalentAdvocate at TalentWorks

So, how do you find these unicorn-esque, ‘family-friendly’ work environments that not only market themselves as being flexible, but actualize it? Let’s dive in:

5 Keywords ‘Family-Friendly’ Companies Use

  1. “Flexibility”/“Flexible work hours”/“flextime”/“Job sharing”
  2. “Telecommuting opportunities” (“WFH available”)
  3. “Good work/life balance”
  4. “Paid parental leave”
  5. “Unlimited sick days”

Finding the ‘family-friendly’ work environment is not difficult, but you need to know how to search and deduce from the job post the type of company they represent. Although how “family-friendly” a company claims to be is relative (and we’ll get into that), it starts at the job listing and researching the company beforehand.

Interview Questions to Ask Regarding “Family-Friendliness”

  • In terms of this position, what does a typical work day look like?
  • How do you prioritize a work/life balance?
  • What kind of flexible work arrangements do people have?
  • How do you, as a manager, support and motivate your team?
  • How do you incorporate employee feedback into daily operations?

You don’t have to be sneaky or tip-toe around wanting more information regarding flexibility if you ask the right questions. Avoid inquiring if their employees work long hours during the first phone screen for example, and instead, ask the hiring manager during the second interview how they prioritize a work/life balance.

Many companies boast flexibility as an HR hiring tactic, but it’s in the interview with your potential boss and colleagues that you’re given the opportunity to suss out the actual environment. When you’re in office during an on-site interview, take a look around, as well. Do you see decorated desks with family photos, or nerf guns? Do you see people that represent the 28-35 year old age bracket? An intergenerational working environment can be very beneficial in many ways, but it’s important to have colleagues and managers you can relate to when looking for said flexibility. (Not many people in-office around the time of your interview? Look up their employees via LinkedIn to get a sense of who is being hired.)

Conclusion

If you happen to be in the 28-35 year old hiring ‘sweet spot’ (I’m looking at you, Millennials!) you have more options than you realize as a candidate. Finding a ‘family-friendly’, or flexible working environment is possible and your sway as an ideal candidate should lead you to succeed in having both a career and starting your family.

Psst– You can also pay us $10 to 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. 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).

Five Reasons Recent Grads Aren’t Getting The Job

If you’re a recent college graduate entering the job market, the deck is stacked against you. And not in any sort of minor way. We’re talking the sort of card-game cheating that would get someone plugged in the old West. Beyond the obvious factors like having less experience and being new to the job hunt, there’s an unfortunate lack of entry-level jobs that are actually looking for brand-new candidates.

Recent grads are all a part of the same wave and they’re all looking for the same break from a limited number of outlets willing to offer one. Jennifer Lawrence might have been discovered on a random sidewalk, but you aren’t an Oscar-winner and the odds aren’t in your favor.

That being said, there are a few ways to increase the likelihood that you’ll be picked from among the horde of fresh-faced applicants looking for work. In the name of giving a leg-up to marketplace newbies, we’re offering some advice we wish we had received to help overcome the myriad ways that the job market is unfavorable to folks looking for their first gig.

They Want People Who Can Lead

You’ve spent your entire life being led around — be it by professors, bosses or parents — and now the job you’re looking for wants some who can take the reins. What’s a young’un to do?

Use leadership-related words when describing you work history. While you might not have much on-the-job experience, using words like managed, communicated or coordinated while describing the work you’ve done will give you a much-needed boost in the eyes of a hiring manager.

RESUME TIP: We found that dropping 1-2 leadership-oriented words every 5 sentences increased the likelihood of getting an interview by over 50%.

demonstrating-leadership-resume-tip.png

You’re Competing Against People Who Know How To Look For Jobs

Yes, the people you’re competing against probably have more impressive things on their resume. That’s just a fact and we aren’t going to lie to you about it. But perhaps even more crucially, they have honed that resume after years of feedback.

The older job-seekers you will compete against have learned what works and what doesn’t via trial and error. You don’t have the time if you need a job now. Luckily, we can rate your resume using the knowledge we’ve gleaned from tons of hiring managers and countless job searches.

“Fun” Fact: Only 2% of applicants to any given job are called up for an interview. You need to make sure your resume is as crisp and clean as possible if you want to compete.

You’re Probably Making Mistakes

Your youth is the time that you’re meant to make mistakes. Unfortunately, that doesn’t translate into the job search. If you don’t know what kind of cover letter a hiring manager is seeking, it’s going to be hard to learn. They don’t have the time to offer you a personalized critique of your application. All you’re going to see is the heavy form letter that lets you know you didn’t get the job. (Or nothing at all. Neil Degrasse Tyson has yet to study inbox black holes, but we can assure you they exist.)

Checking your application against a few simple do’s and don’ts of cover-letter writing will go a long way toward helping you land a job. And, of course, you need to check your application for silly mistakes.

Job Search Tip: We found that 10% of applications are disqualified immediately for spelling errors and other easily remedied goofs.

what-happens-to-your-job-application-sankey.png

 

‘Entry-Level’ Jobs Are Anything But

We recently ran the numbers and found that most jobs that call themselves “entry-level” are actually looking for someone with 3+ years of experience. Who are they to critique your application when they can’t even work out the meaning of entry, right?

entry-level-jobs-years-experience

Unfortunately, that’s the market you’re entering. But a little bit of legwork can go a long way. Finding jobs that are actually entry-level and not just looking to pay that way will save you quite a bit of time. In a recent run-through, we found that out of nearly 1300 jobs marketing themselves as entry-level, only 240 were actually looking for people looking to enter the market. That’s a little less than 1 in 5 and it adds up to a whole lot of wasted time on your end.

Job Search Tip: Call off the seance to try and tap into an HR manager’s mind. We’ll narrow it down to the actual entry-level jobs for you for just $10.

You’ll Get It When You’re Older

We found that the most hireable time in a person’s life falls between the ages of 28 and 35. If you’re under that you’re considered too young and beyond that your stock starts to drop. While we don’t have any tips to make you older (try making a wish in a mirror?), we don’t want you to sit around waiting to be 28. We doubt you could afford it anyway.

Consider taking positions that aren’t your dream job if they’ll give you the relevant experience to land the big gig further down the line. Contract work, paid internships and less glamorous grinds all look better than a gap on your resume.

I’ve taken all of this into account but I still don’t have a job. ” Something that can’t be taught, and that young folks have a short supply of, is patience. We don’t blame them. We’re math nerds around here and each day that passes by is a significantly larger chunk of their life than it is to us.

Those who truly can’t wait can always sign up for TalentWorks. We’ll limber up and leap those hurdles for you, taking care of some of the biggest obstacles with our experience and automated tools.
Our AI-driven ApplicationAssistant automatically optimizes the day of week, time of day & delay of your application making the job search that much less messy and taking the calendar aspect out of your hands. We serve up a fresh batch of personally curated jobs every day that you can apply to with just a few clicks. And we stand beside our services with a 100% money-back guarantee.  Take a bit of the guesswork out of your search and get started here.