Prepare yourself
4 min. read

If you’re struggling to land a job interview, this is what you need to do

So you’re familiar with all the best interview tips – like how to frame your private-sector experience in an NFP interview, which questions to ask at the end, and even how to follow up afterwards.

But what if you’re struggling to land a job interview in the first place?

It’s a common issue amongst our EthicalJobs.com.au community – and in the economy more broadly, since there are so many more unemployed or employed jobseekers than there are vacant jobs!

It can be incredibly demoralising to be constantly rejected, or have to come to your own conclusion in response to, well, no response at all.

There could be a number of reasons you’re not being called in for an interview, from failing to adequately demonstrate your soft skills in your CV to needing to improve your personal brand.

But if you’re fairly certain your CV is as strong as it can be, business communications trainer Clare Whitmel shares four tips to improve your CV hit rate:

1. Be discerning

Are you sending out a huge volume of applications to meet a self-imposed daily application target – even for jobs you don’t particularly want?

While the intention behind doing this is understandable, that lack of focus could be coming through in your applications and turning recruiters off.

Instead, be discerning and apply only for jobs you actually want and know you can do.

Feel like you’re limiting yourself? In fact, focusing your efforts on a select number of opportunities allows you to really target your applications – which is much more effective in landing an interview than blanketing recruiters with generic applications.

2. Be speculative

Directly approaching employers who aren’t currently advertising a vacancy – also known as a speculative approach – can be very effective in getting their attention for the right reasons.

This is particularly the case if you’re changing careers, moving into NFP work from the private or government sectors, returning to work after a break, or have a number of gaps in your CV.

So how do you do it?

First, research the organisations for which you’re interested in working. Develop an understanding of their needs and problems – and how you can provide a solution.

Then, reach out to a real person in the organisation to ask for a meeting – even just a 15-minute coffee ­– rather than a job. You’ll ideally meet with someone who could be your potential boss, like a team leader, or someone from the HR department.

The idea here is not that you’ll be offered a job straight away, but that you’ll become a memorable person for them next time they’re looking for new staff.

3. Find a match with the company culture and values

Cultural fit is incredibly important in any organisation – but it’s of particular significance in the not-for-profit sector.

Once you zero in on the organisations you want to work for, research their respective cultures and the qualities the organisation prizes.

If applicable, read organisation reviews on employer review website Glassdoor, or check out their LinkedIn and Facebook pages. Any personal connections you might have at the organisation are also a great source of information.

In your application, highlight areas you have in common with the organisation – like your shared values – and clearly outline why you want to join their organisation specifically.

4. Make yourself known

Organisations often fill vacancies with candidates they already know in some capacity – through referrals, word of mouth and previous connections, for example. And sometimes, that happens before the vacancy is even advertised.

That means developing contacts with recruiters in the organisations you want to work in is incredibly valuable.

So how do you do it? Attend industry events, reach out to people online and get active in your network. And build your reputation based on your achievements – it means others will be more likely to refer you to their own networks.

5. Clean up your online presence

In this day and age, it should come as a given that employers will check out your social media profiles as part of the screening process.

And with a 2014 survey finding that more than half of recruiters have reconsidered their hiring decision based on what they found about a candidate online, it’s vital you clean up your social media profiles – particularly LinkedIn and Facebook – prior to hitting ‘send’ on any applications.

Among the turnoffs are bad spelling and grammar, swearing, and references to drugs. On the flip side, it’s hardly surprising that volunteering activities are viewed favourably.

Feel like landing a job interview has been a challenge lately? Try switching up your approach – what have you got to lose?