You’re scrolling through job listings when you come across a job you’re particularly interested in. You collect the necessary materials to apply, tailor your resume and cover letter to the position, and hit “submit.” Then, you sit back and wait.
Does this sound familiar? If so, you should consider changing how you spend your time in-between applications. As you probably know, your job as a candidate is to know why you want to work for a certain company by researching it before the interview and becoming familiar with its practices, services, mission statement and values. However, you shouldn’t save that research for just before the interview; rather, you should start your research the moment you click “apply.”
As many career experts will tell you, the job search is not, in fact, a numbers game. Many job seekers (falsely) hold the belief that if they apply to “x” number of jobs, inevitably they will receive a call, an interview, and an offer. But in fact, finding a position is a matter of quality over quantity—and what if you aren’t prepared when the hiring manager calls? Some employers simply call to invite potential hires to an interview, whereas others pre-screen candidates by speaking with them in-depth before deciding if they if they would like to meet with them in person. Every company has its own process in regards to calling back possible candidates and, therefore, you should be prepared for what could always be a spur-of-the-moment phone interview shortly after applying to each job.
Of course, this can be difficult to manage when you’re applying to numerous jobs at once. We have plenty of advice on organizing your job search to keep all your notes and listings together in order to be best prepared here, but after you get yourself organized, consider this tip for going the extra mile: create a file for each company you apply to with the basics about each one. Include contact information and location, what type of company it is, what their core mission and values are, and what it is you admire about the company and makes you want to work there. This way, if you get an unexpected phone call from a hiring manager, you’ll be prepared to talk about the position and the company.
Prepping yourself for the phone call will not only boost your confidence in your ability to land the job, but will also put you significantly ahead of the competition. In fact, according to a study on job preparedness, 91% of candidates spend a large amount of time studying the job listings for each position they apply for to ensure they’d be a good fit—a good start, but one can only ascertain so much from an online posting. When asked about whether or not candidates prepare for interviews, such as practicing questions that may come up, the number of prepared candidates drops to only 63%.
And that’s for the interview itself! That means that, should you prepare for the phone call, not only will you be ahead of the 37% who don’t prepare for the interview, you’ll be ahead of the (likely larger) number of applicants who don’t prep themselves for their initial contact with the hiring manager. So the next time you apply to a job, be sure to brush up on the details of the company before moving on with your search. Even if you don’t get a call back, you may learn of other positions, contacts, or opportunities in your research.