Tips to Help You Land a Job Interview

Tips to Help You Land a Job Interview

Sean Falconer

Whether you are currently unemployed and looking for your next gig or you have a job and you’re open to new opportunities, applying to jobs can be a challenging and discouraging process.


In particular, hourly positions often receive hundreds of applications. The average time spent doing an initial resume review is only 6 seconds. It’s unlikely that the employer will be able to properly screen every application let alone give everyone a fair chance at an interview. Typically, only 1 to 3 people actually get an interview. Whether you are currently unemployed and looking for your next gig or you have a job and you’re open to new opportunities, applying to jobs can be a challenging and discouraging process.

These numbers seem daunting, but there are a several simple things you can do to significantly increase the likelihood that are part of these select few that do get an interview.

This is the focus of this article. I’m going to walk you through several tips that will give you an edge over your competition.

Let’s get started.

1. Apply to Lots of Jobs and Don’t Stop Applying

Snagajob found that workers that get hired apply to twice as many jobs as those that do not get hired.

One reason for this is that applying to jobs, interviewing and the entire process of landing a job is a learnable skill set that takes practice. The more jobs you apply to, the faster you will learn what works and what does not.

If you’re just starting the process of applying to jobs, you may even want to apply to a few jobs that are perhaps not perfect but give you a chance to practice these skills. Don’t just shotgun your resume to everyone, but take the time to try different tactics in your cover letter and resume and see what yields results.

Also, just because you have some interviews lined up doesn’t mean you should stop applying to jobs. You may not get hired and you don’t want to be stuck starting from scratch. Continue to create a pipeline of potential options.

2. Track Your Progress and Results

This may seem like overkill, but it is essential to giving you an edge. Create a simple spreadsheet and keep track of what jobs you apply to, what resume you sent, who the contact is, when you applied and any other details that seem to make sense to you.

This way when you do get a positive response like an interview or follow up, you can track it back to what job and what you actually sent them. Then you can use that combination for the next batch of applications.

3. Target Your Cover Letter

It’s ok to have a template cover letter as a start point when you apply to a position, but it is critical that you modify it for each job you apply to. A recruiter, hiring manager or business owner is going to be able to sniff out a generic cover letter immediately.

You have only 6 seconds to connect with the person reviewing your application. The cover letter is usually the first contact point, make sure you make a good impression.

One easy way to do this is quickly demonstrate that you’ve done your homework on the company. Visit their website and say something that shows you know something about them. If you’re applying to a restaurant, review their menu and mention how much you like such and such an appetizer.

4. Target Your Resume

If you are applying to different types of jobs, say customer service and host at a restaurant, make sure you have at least two different versions of your resume.

You want to highlight the most relevant experience and if you have an objective, make sure you tailor it to the job you are applying to. It’s also a good idea to try to work in experience mentioned in the job description with the descriptions of your experience.

5. Follow Up On Each Application

As long as you are following tip #2, then you will know when you applied to each job. Use this log to also track follow ups. You should send a follow up 3 to 5 days after you apply to each job if you have not heard back yet.

All you need to do is send a quick note reminding the person that you applied a few days ago and ask whether they received your resume. This demonstrates that you are eager to hear something back and most people do not do this, so it could force the hiring manager to take a second look at your application.

6. Apply Quickly

On average, the first resume is received 200 seconds after a job is posted online. You are not doing yourself any favors waiting to apply. If you’re at all interested in a position you found, make sure you apply immediately.

Bonus Tip: Don’t Get Discouraged

This is easier said than done, but try not to get discouraged. So few people get interviews, if you are not landing one right off the bat, it doesn’t mean all hope is lost. Keep plugging away and trying different things. You’ll get better and learn what works.

Sean Falconer is CTO and co-founder of Prior to Proven, he was a Postdoctoral Scholar at the Stanford Center for Biomedical Informatics Research where he worked on applications for the semantic web.

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