Ask the experts: What’s the secret to landing a job?

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While the unemployment rate has dropped to 7.9% from its peak of 14.9% last April, it’s still much higher than it was pre-COVID. But there’s hope on the horizon. The economy is on the rebound and hiring has picked back up in many industries.


Lots of opportunities are out there — but competition for open roles is fierce and candidates need to be resourceful to land an offer. To help you stand out from the crowd, we asked a few Horizontal Talent recruiting experts to share some key pieces of advice they’re giving to our consultants right now.  

The art of following up

Hiring managers don’t have time to sift through a sea of resumes. But they do have time to check their messages and read why you’d be a great fit for the role you just applied for. Sending the job poster a note on LinkedIn is a great way to get seen.

“We’ve gotten nearly 600 applicants for a role I’m currently hiring for, but only four people have reached out to me to say why they should be considered,” says Director of Talent Acquisitions Alma Allen. “There’s lots of competition in the market and following up definitely gets you noticed.”

Resume and portfolio recommendations

Don’t worry about the “one-page rule” on a resume. If everything is relevant to the position you’re applying for, but your resume is 2-3 pages long, you’ll be fine.  

“On your resume, don’t just list job duties — list your accomplishments,” says Market Director Kris Hancock. “Say something like ‘I brought in X amount of revenue to company Y that contributed to Z amount of gross margin in 2020.”

While many candidates use Microsoft Word to create and update their resume, always export it as a PDF before you send it off. Since PDF formatting remains the same across mobile, laptop and desktop, this will keep your layout from getting jumbledAnd while you should use a font that’s legible and professional, feel free to opt for something more modern than Times New Roman.

If I get a resume in Times New Roman, I immediately reformat to Arial or something similar,” says Executive Recruiter Joceyln Huffer. “And don’t be afraid to add some color and infographics as well.”

To help narrow down hundreds of applications, recruiters often scoursubmitted resumes and portfolios for keywords that pertain to the role and the industryTo give yourself a good chance of making the cut, do some search engine optimization (SEO) research and tailor your resumeto include terms found in the job description

“Make sure you implement basic SEO keywords,” says Jocelyn. This will help you stand out when your resume and portfolio are submitted into our applicant tracking system.”

Ultimately, your resume is a chance for you to express yourself.

“Work on personal branding to make you stand out from the next candidate,” says Creative, Digital Marketing & IT Recruiter Jake Sayaraj. “Spend time to ensure that your portfolio is unique, on point and a reflection of you.

Keep it classy on social media

Be active on LinkedIn, but keep it relevant to your industry, skills and job search. After all, LinkedIn isn’t Facebook.

“It’s permanent once it hits the internet,” says Kris. “Employers nowadays look into their applicants on various social media channels, so be professional on all your social networking sites.”

Communication tips

When you communicate with recruiters, keep in mind that they’re people too. Don’t “ghost” a recruiter if you’re no longer interested in the position or if you took another job.

“Let them know you’re off the market and why,” says Kris. “That way, we can touch base with you at an appropriate time in the future and the relationship stays strong for both parties.”

Fortune favors the flexible

With roles not coming along as quickly as they used to, an open-minded approach can help you succeed.A little flexibility can help you fine tune your search and land a solid role in today’s murky market.

“Be flexible when it comes to rate, company, etc.,” says Functional Recruiter Jessica Peter. “Keeping your options open is important.”

In many cases, companies have a hard time articulating what theyre looking for on paper and often resort to giving a laundry list of requirements. But even if you don’t meet every single qualification on the job description, applying is often still worth your time.

“Sometimes technologies are listed that the company doesn’t even work with,” says Kris. “If you’re interested in the company and the description is ‘close enough’ it’s always worth pursuing. At the bare minimum, you can potentially make some connections for networking.”

This advice is especially important for women. According to LinkedIn’s Gender Insights Report, women are 16% less likely to apply to a job after viewing it than men. They also apply to 20% fewer jobs overall than men. However, women who apply are 16% more likely to get the gig than men.

Prep and plan to ensure a smooth virtual interview

Technology hiccups can strike at any time, so a little preparation in advance can go a long way. Make sure you have a good internet connection, limit distractions as much as possible and share your contact info as a backup plan in case the internet goes down.

“Practice with someone ahead of time so you’re comfortable with the technology,” says Alma. And make sure you’re not too close to the camera.”

Read more5 additional tips to help you nail your video interview.

During the interview, treat it just like a real-life meeting. Get a haircut, dress appropriately (at least from the waist up) and prepare some questions.

“Ask the interviewer what they’re looking for this person to accomplish in their first three, five, nine and 12 months,” says Kris.

If you’re currently on the hunt, feel free to get in touch with our recruiting team or check out our job board. We’d love to connect you with the right opportunity.

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