• Sarah Seavey

Most People are Applying to Jobs Wrong: 7 Steps to a Successful Job Search

It's common for my clients to say they've Googled questions such as "How to land an interview," "The best way to apply to a job," "How to fix my resume," or "I do not hear back from companies, what am I doing wrong?". In this article, I will cover the most common questions regarding job search and applying.

To start, although the "Easy Apply" button on large job boards like LinkedIn or Indeed can make applying to jobs easier, it's common for mass applying to yield little return. In the time it takes to find and mass applies to 50 jobs, you could apply correctly to five. Compared to getting lost in a sea of 50 easy apply applications, my clients have found greater success not only hearing from employers but landing their first choice job by using the seven steps outlined below.

"Good things take time, great things take work".

Step 1: Understand Applicant Tracking System(s)


Companies of all sizes and across industries use a software called Applicant Tracking Systems (ATS) to sift through and organize large groups of job applicants to contact applicants. Just like a search engine, a recruiter can search using Applicant Tracking Systems. These systems rank and filter applications by keywords (such as skills, job positions, industry terminology) or qualifications (such as location, education, years of experience). As an applicant, you should be optimizing and tailoring your resume specifically to fit the job you are applying for. This means first creating an industry resume, then tailoring it to showcase how you are the best fit for that specific employer’s role. Learn more about ATS.


Common Misconceptions about ATS:

“I just need to get my resume through the ATS." I hear this statement often. It provides an opportunity to talk about ATS in a different light. Applicant Tracking Systems are a good thing and not just some black hole your resume goes into.


Fun facts about ATS

# 1 If your resume is tailored, you are qualified, and your resume is ATS friendly, human eyes will likely see you.


# 2 When human eyes see your resume, studies show you still have 6-7 seconds before your placed in the yes, no, or maybe category.


# 3 Job postings typically are hiring for ONE position out of an average of 250+ applications. You won’t get a call for every job, just based on the mathematical odds, but you are more likely to hear back if you put the appropriate time to apply (see steps below).


Step 2: Be Strategic & Conduct Purposeful Research

First, let yourself dream and explore possibilities by making a target company list - simply a list of companies you want to work for. Be intentional when making your list. Only including companies that fit what you are looking for in a role and/or industry, work culture, location, type of company, skills, or responsibilities for your next career.


Research your target companies

I am not talking about a quick Google search and skim of the website. I am talking about at least 30 minutes to an hour or more per company. I highly recommend blocking off designated research time in your calendar to help the process feel less overwhelming. Use this block of time to do a deep dive into your target companies to understand and take notes on the following:

  • What are the company's mission and vision statements?

  • How has the pandemic impacted business? What are new and innovative solutions for those changes?

  • What are the goals for the next 6-12 months, the challenges, and the initiatives they’re running?

  • Does their career site provide recommendations