You can probably relate to the disheartening experience of applying for a job then not hearing a thing, not even the generic ‘thanks for your application – only those candidates selected for interviews will be contacted.’
New research from the Queensland University of Technology offers some answers to why employers react to some job applications more than others, and what it takes to be among the luckier few.
For this study, the professors analyzed resumes and cover letters from hundreds of job applications, and the level of success they achieved to reveal some secrets to getting shortlisted by potential employers.
Overqualified is the new qualified
“You should aim to be over-qualified to be competitive, depending on your field,” said Dr. T.J. Thomson, senior lecturer in QUT’s School of Communication. “The description for the job in the study stated only one to two years of experience was required, but most of the applicant pool reported almost six years experience.”
Professional recognition is key
It also significantly increases your chances of being hired if you have won awards or received professional recognition in your field. Thomson explains, “Applicants in the data pool who had earned professional recognition or awards were four times more likely to be shortlisted than those without such recognition.”
Professional development and training go a long way
“All shortlisted candidates in the sample had attended training workshops and completed at least one internship or apprenticeship. This shows you have a self-growth mentality, and you are teachable, which can reflect positively on your interpersonal qualities,” said Dr. Thomson.
Tangible expressions of your talent speak louder than words
Have a portfolio of your work, if you can. “We found that tangible expressions of what you can do matter – show, don’t tell,” explains Thomson. “If relevant for your field, a portfolio or other tangible expression of your talents and skills will speak louder than the narrative you craft in the cover letter.”
Credentials matter too
The shortlisting process has to start somewhere, and educational qualifications are often one of the first candidate attributes hiring managers use to narrow down the applicants’ pool.
So, to stand out from the competition for a job these days, you should have previous experience and be over-qualified for the role. Apply with concrete evidence of your past achievements and experience – showing off awards and recognitions helps too. And be sure to have the necessary certifications and credentials, because the absence of these can get you cut from contention right away. We hope these secrets to getting shortlisted help you land your next dream job. You can read more about this study and its findings here.