The chirping crickets. The deafening silence. You’ve applied to countless jobs and yet, you still haven’t heard back. It’s no wonder people describe looking for a job as one of the hardest jobs a person can have.
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Falling into what’s known as the “application black hole” is a common experience, one that often frustrates even the most optimistic job applicants. If you’re applying to jobs and not hearing back, here are five ways to build your confidence despite the silence, as well as two bonus tips to help your resume get noticed:
1. Keep up momentum
It’s vital that you continue searching and applying for jobs. Fortunately, the job market is filled with opportunities. Set weekly goals for yourself, targeting a specific number of applications so that you don’t get too focused on a particular position. Goals can help you alleviate anxiety and maintain a daily routine. Look for ways to get involved in your community or industry if you’re unemployed, have spare time on your hands or are feeling isolated.
In the US, there are 3 million jobs added to Indeed each month. While your perfect fit might feel elusive in the moment, chances are high the right job for you is out there.
2. Optimize your efforts
Automate the front end of the job search process (identifying jobs that interest you) as much as possible. Do this by setting up job alerts — email updates about new jobs that match your preferences. You can create a job alert by doing a job search. On the right side of the search results page, just enter your email and select “Activate” to have new jobs containing these search terms sent to your inbox on a regular basis.
Because you can create numerous alerts, use specific keywords from the job descriptions, job titles, and company names you’re targeting. Experiment with a variety of job titles and terms until you find searches that match what you’re looking for. By reducing the amount of time you’ll spend searching, you’ll gain time to customize and improve your applications: tailoring your resume and getting that cover letter just right.
Read more: 6 Universal Rules for Resume Writing
3. Know the rules
To further reduce your chances of falling into the application black hole, read each job description carefully for keywords and include these words in your resume and cover letters. Today, most employers use an Applicant Tracking System (ATS) — a software that allows for automated sorting of applications based on specific keywords, including skills, years of experience, training, or schools attended.
As soon as you click “Submit,” your application is evaluated based on the job description keywords, then ranked alongside other candidates in the company’s database. The takeaway? Always consider whether you have the qualifications a job description is calling for before you apply. You are unlikely to get past automated systems or human recruiters without the required qualifications.
4. Do your research
Have you set your sights on a particular company? Do some digging. Visit their website to read their company blog and press releases. Learn about their mission on their “About Us” page. Keep track of local networking events the company is attending or hosting by following their social media channels. You can also follow the company’s CEO or other leadership on social media. This is a great way to stay up to date on what’s happening within the company and what matters to this organization.
And follow potential employers on Indeed Company Pages to receive updates when new jobs are posted. Be sure to explore the conversations in the Q&A section, too. Company employees and advocates may participate in and monitor these pages, and you might hear about the experience of other members in the community.
5. Remember self-care
Remember those goals you set for yourself? The best part of goal setting is the reward. Be sure that you take the time to recognize your accomplishments — applying for those jobs, attending that networking event, surviving that five-person interview — and nurture your self-confidence by acknowledging your efforts.
Treat yourself in simple, meaningful ways. If you’re on a limited budget, there are several cost-friendly ways to kick back: enjoy a walk in the park, read a good book, make time for friends and family, and above all, practice gratitude. Whether you’re unemployed, stuck in a job you can’t stand, or just looking for something better, it’s easy to feel blue and frustrated. Gratitude for what you already have can be your foundation for future growth. Write down three things each day that went well and their causes. As your mindset shifts to focus on what you’re grateful for, you will find it easier to relax. In fact, research has shown that even doing this exercise for just one week can increase happiness and decrease depressive symptoms for six months. (You can read the details of the study here: PDF.)
As promised, here are two bonus tips to help get you noticed and avoid the gravitational pull of the job application black hole:
6. Nail those keywords
Rather than revising your resume for each new job you target, include a “Skills” section that you can switch out, depending on the role you target. This allows recruiters (and ATSs) to quickly scan proficiencies while you use the bulk of your resume to highlight achievements. Indeed Resume offers job seekers visibility to thousands of potential employers, you can choose to set your resume to “public” if you’d like it to be publicly searchable by employers.
7. Use and build your network
Ask your professional and social networks for help. Find out if anyone in your network already works at companies you’re targeting. If you haven’t heard back about an application and are concerned it’s fallen into the black hole, your connection may be able to find an answer. Also, attend local networking events and join digital communities. These are fun ways to meet like-minded professionals and learn of new job opportunities.
Looking for your next job can be a daunting process, and if you aren’t receiving feedback, it can feel like you aren’t making progress. But with a balance of targeted, keyword-rich applications, networking, and self-care, you’ll escape the application black hole and find not just the next job, but the right job.