Don’t come at your job search from the wrong angle

People generally stress about job application processes because they stress about getting it “right”. 

They are worried about saying the “right” thing and become so embroiled in squeezing their square selves into a round hole that they forget (or perhaps never knew in the first place) that there is no “right” answer to ANY of this.

When people think about applying for jobs, they think about heading to the well-known job sites online and looking up the classifieds in the newspaper. If they’re up with all the current tech and social media platforms, they might check out the job listings found there as well.

They fire off a resume and general introductory cover letter and click “submit”. This is the “submit and forget” approach.

When using this approach you might strike it lucky, but more often than not, you will find that you likely have to submit for multiple jobs (if not tens of them, then hundreds) to get a call back for interview.

I often hear the complaints about how people submit so many job applications and are never shown the courtesy of a response.

However, I will ask how many times they called up to introduce themselves, followed up the application with a phone call, submitted a tailored resume and a targeted cover letter. And the response is usually the same – none.

You see, job seekers and employers too often come at the game of recruitment back to front.

The small and medium business hirer will likely tell their employees that they are looking for someone to fill a particular role and ask them if they know anyone appropriate who could fill that position. Or the employer may seek out candidates within their own network.

Failing that, they may advertise the vacancy on their social media pages, before listing the job on the well-known job boards or advertising in the paper.

However, when job seekers are applying for jobs, they traditionally start with the online job boards and newspaper classifieds and work backwards.

The jobs we see advertised to the masses are jobs that couldn’t be filled through networking and employee recommendations.

If jobseekers could tap into the process at an earlier stage, the competition for the role could be lower and come with the recommendation of a trusted friend or prior colleague.

The reason so many businesses approach recruitment this way is because hiring staff is ultimately a risk decision. If the person they are considering for the role comes on the recommendation of a trusted employee, the risk of the hire is less than hiring someone “off the internet” with no existing ties to the company.

Even hiring from their own social media lowers the risk of a hire, because they are reaching out to people already engaged with their brand.

Cultural fit, gut instinct and engagement capabilities are all important things to consider as well, but these can be uncovered at interview.

The jobs we see advertised to the masses are jobs that couldn’t be filled through networking and employee recommendations.

In order to secure an interview, it is important to think strategically about how to go about it.

Many job seekers consider the job seeking process as being equivalent to being weighed, measured and, most likely, found wanting. But it isn’t as personal as that.

There could be any number of reasons behind the challenges you face in achieving an interview.

It could be as simple as the lack of a targeted cover letter responding to the needs of the job description, or a resume that doesn’t highlight your relevant skills well enough to present a strong presentation for candidacy.

You may be applying for jobs that are considered too low or too high for your experience and education, or you may be failing to represent the transferability of your skills if you are seeking a new role in another industry or field.

Job seeking is an experiment. The definition of insanity is doing the same thing over again and expecting a different result.

So, if your approach to the labour market isn’t gaining you an interview, then you need to stop and consider whether your strategy needs tweaking.

You should put yourself in the shoes of the employer and think about what they would be looking in a candidate, and then work from there.

Zoë Wundenberg is a careers writer and coach at