With pages of requirements, difficult application processes and a lack of options in a tough economy, looking for employment can be a job in itself.
But patience is a virtue, and securing your dream job won't happen overnight. Many job seekers struggle with doing the proper research and interview preparation, according to Lucy Birchenough, a recruitment manager for Net-A-Porter.
Here are a few tips to keep your application atop the hiring manager's pile:
1. Tweak your cover letter and resume. It's possible you might apply for jobs in similar fields, but each opportunity is more than likely distinct in its own manner. Thus, it's best to customize your application materials to fit each individual job you apply for. In order to do this, you'll need to do your due diligence when researching a company.
You don't want to be sending out a ton of different applications without knowing anything about a particular company. Doing your homework might also save you time, allowing you to realize that a particular job or workplace isn't for you. However, the research could help you customize your cover letter or application, which could give you a leg up in the hiring process.
"Keep your CV to a maximum of two pages," Birchenough told SoFeminine. "Employers are put off by overly lengthy CVs – make sure that it is succinct, with any relevant extracurricular activities or transferable skills easy to find. In addition, there shouldn't be any gaps in your CV that are unaccounted for; if you've taken six months off to go traveling, that's fine – just tell us about your experiences and what you've learnt. What transferable skills did your summer job leave you with?"
2. Check and recheck your application materials. According to Birchenough, the fastest way for your application to be dismissed is from simple mistakes you could have easily fixed.
"Spelling or grammar mistakes are almost guaranteed to land you in the 'no' pile with most employers," Birchenough said. "A simple spell check can prevent your application being dismissed for avoidable errors. Ask someone to read your application for you as a fresh pair of eyes will help pick out what you might have missed."
3. Look for changes to the job posting. A hiring manager might update or refine the job description at any time during the recruiting process, which could make a job you were perfect for less attractive, or inversely, make you a frontrunner for a job you thought you had no shot of landing.
After you've submitted your resume, go back and see if any changes have been made. If there have been alterations to the listing, some companies allow you to update your job application in real time.
4. Tidy up your social media accounts. In many cases, your online profile is your brand. You don't want to send the wrong message to potential employers with inappropriate posts on those accounts.
"Make sure that employers are seeing the best side of you, no matter which of your online profiles they choose to explore," Birchenough said. "Believe me, they won't just check your LinkedIn page to find out about you. Ensure that any images or information you wouldn't want a future employer to see are removed or kept private."
Birchenough said a social media presence can also help you land a job. If your Twitter postings, for example, illustrate your interests in a field, it might go a long way with a hiring manager and help you land a job.