Job searching is a daunting task.

At times, we find ourselves falling to the spray and pray method to land a job interview. But the return of investment for that approach is so small that we may as well sit back and relax.

If you’ve been having trouble landing an interview, this post is for you.
If you’ve been doing the shotgun method, this post is also for you.
If you are just starting out to look for your next gig, perfect, this post is for you too.

For a long time, I’ve been only on one side of the fence-the job seeker side. It wasn't until recently when I started a small business that I learned what the hiring side looks like.

The first job posting I put up generated a lot of responses. After going through the first ten emails meticulously, I started to lost interest. By the twentieth emails, I dived into skimming mode.

I know exactly why hiring manager spends only 5 seconds on each candidate, because that's how long it takes to see if the candidate is up the snuff. As I sifted through resumes and cover letters, the mistakes in candidates’ responses were glaringly obvious – and they were also the same mistakes I made when trying to land interviews.

Only when you step into the hiring manager’s shoes, can you imagine what she’s seeking.

Read

I’m well aware of the spray and pray method; there're even scripts out there that apply the job for you with a template response.

To separate the wheat from the chaff, I insert a passphrase by the end of the job posting, and I asked the job candidates to reply starting with the passphrase. Doing so allows me to know two things about the job candidate within two seconds, 1) did he read what I have to say about my business? 2) did he follow instructions?

The completion of the two tasks above is the pre-qualify for me to read further on the email.

You’d be surprised how many people don’t make the cut because of this and it’s not even hard.

Don’t be vague

This goes back to people using a template when applying for jobs. Many applicants start with To Whom it may concern, which is okay if you are applying for a larger company with multi-levels of hiring managers, but if you’re applying to a startup or small business, you can easily find who is in charge - Google it.

Heck, some job seekers even put their name out on the job posting, if you miss that, you're ousted in the game.

Take a some time to learn about what the employer is looking for, and tweak your template so that your email looks well-rounded. Vagueness in job an application will stick out like a sore thumb, instead of addressing this company the whole time, use the actual company names.

The point is, take some time out to tweak your template responses.

Provide value

Want to stand out from the crowds? Provide value.

Think of this as your appetizer, bringing value to the table can get you the attention that you want from the employer.

Remember it’s all about them, and not you, they don’t care where you graduated from, how many years of experiences you have in the field, it’s about what you can do for them, and the best way to deliver the message is by providing actionable insights.

From my experience, one out ten job seekers bring the appetizers to the table and guess who I ended up hiring.

Take away, make the employer want more than just the appetizer.

Your Turn

Job searching is time-consuming, no doubt, but with just a little more effort, your job outlook will be promising. Spend some time to read the job post, reply with a customized response starting with the name of the person in charge of the hiring, and finally demonstrate value.

Now go get ‘em tiger.