By James Hu, Next Avenue Contributor
Job board sites like Indeed or SimplyHired make it seem easy to apply for a job online. They have a system that keeps your resumé in tow to readily submit. And many offer One Click Application services, auto-filling your personal information in the designated areas. However, I’m willing to bet you’ve never even received a response from one of these applications.
That’s why I’m offering eight Do’s and Don’ts to effectively guide you through the process of applying for jobs online:
1. DO check out the company’s website before you apply. This one is two-fold.
First, recruiters want to see that you have a special interest in their company. They’re more likely to pursue a candidate who has a history with the company or industry and a story about why they’re applying now. Take the time to learn its mission and values. Then, incorporate those into your job history and cover letter. This will help you stand out among other applicants who applied without doing their homework.
Second, checking out the company’s website helps you see if the firm is one where you’d want to work. Isn’t it better to know before you fill out an application that the business doesn’t match your values or is further than you’d like to commute? Save yourself and the recruiter time and only fill out applications for places where you would be happy working.
2. DO tailor your resumé keywords for each job you’ll apply for online. The tendency when applying to jobs online is to quickly submit your resumé and cover letter and move forward. That’s a mistake,
The reason? When applying for a job online, there is a high chance your application will go right into an Applicant Tracking System (ATS) to be reviewed by a recruiter. Applicant Tracking Systems parse and sort resumés by topics or keywords, like education or managing a budget.
In order to optimize your resumé for ATS, you should match the keywords in it to the job description the company provides. Online tools (shameless plug: ones such as my company’s Jobscan.co) can help you identify the right keywords by copy and pasting your resumé and the job description into the site.
3. DO add your up-to-date LinkedIn profile. More and more companies now request you include a link to your LinkedIn profile in their job applications. Having an active LinkedIn profile helps show a recruiter that you’re serious about your job search and career. Many recruiters will search for it anyway, so making their job easier goes a long way toward making yourself a worthy candidate.
You can include more information about your background and skills on LinkedIn than through a normal job application, so take advantage of this opportunity.
Before you link to it, though, make sure your LinkedIn profile is job-search ready. Add a great picture, show some of your recent projects and make sure you’re active in relevant LinkedIn networks. For more insights on getting your LinkedIn profile recruiter ready, check out this great post from The Muse: “The 31 Best LinkedIn Profile Tips for Jobseekers.”
4. DO write a cover letter. Although a cover letter is sometimes optional for an online job application, you should always submit one. A cover letter is a great way to talk more about yourself and your experience and to incorporate the company’s values and mission statement into your application.
Including a cover letter also has a more tactical advantage. Many Applicant Tracking Systems will account for a cover letter when recruiters search by keywords.
5. DO make sure the application on the company site is the same as the one on the job board. This is especially important with job-board features such as “one click apply” or “quick apply.” The company site may ask for something specific, like a salary requirement, or request you email someone your resumé and cover letter. If you apply without looking at the instructions and miss something, it will look like you can’t follow directions.
3 Things Not to Do When You Apply for a Job Online
1. DON’T type lazily or in shorthand. Sometimes, our online habits win out without us even realizing it. I occasionally receive applications where the candidate’s name is all lowercase. Not taking the time to capitalize the first letters of your name tells me three things: 1) You lack attention to detail; 2) You are lazy and 3) Working here is not important to you. You don’t want a recruiter to think any of those!
Many people also associate writing online with informality. But when you apply for a job online, you want to look professional and that means writing more formally. For example, for a cover letter, fill a page and use a formal heading.
2. DON’T use auto-fill to apply for positions. Sure, this makes things easier, but you’ll be trading results for ease. If you have ever looked back at the information loaded into your application when using auto-fill, you may have seen that it didn’t align correctly. Your “Position” answer might instead say which college you attended. Or prior employment dates might just show start dates
Auto-fill may also format the details of your job history in a strange or confusing way. Instead of leaving this to chance, fill in the details one at a time, double-checking as you go.
3. DON’T leave sections incomplete. It can feel redundant to upload your resumé and then type in your work history manually, so the temptation can be to leave that section blank. Don’t!
On many Applicant Tracking Systems, the information typed in for job history is more visible than the resumé, which someone would have to click to view.
Don’t forget to tailor these sections in the same way you would tailor your resumé to match the necessary keywords to really optimize your resumé.
Business owners often seek to control the perception of their companies so that they accurately reflect reality. This is easier said than done. Perceptions are like habits – they tend to die hard. The staffing business has long battled a sometimes lackluster perception. At BARRYSTAFF, here are the most common misconceptions we run into … and how we set the record straight.
“Temporary” employees are nothing more than short-term fixes. In truth, the term “temp” is outdated. We no longer refer to ourselves as a “temp agency,” but rather as a “staffing company.” There’s a significant difference. Gone are the days when folks would show up to the local agency each morning and collect a paycheck for a single job later that afternoon. In reality, what we’re doing is probably much different than what people are prone to imagining.
We give companies employees to try out on a limited basis. If an employee is working out then companies may extend a permanent job offer after 90 days. We handle everything until that job offer is extended. This process allows the company – and the employee – to feel each other out. One of the key analytics we study is our retention rate. In other words, we want our companies and employees to stick together. That’s our goal.
We only staff for one industry. While it’s true that staffing companies have specializations (BARRYSTAFF’s is manufacturing), many agencies are capable of recruiting for many, many fields. At BARRYSTAFF, we have placed architects, engineers and chemists. We have an entire team solely dedicated to filling clerical positions. So while manufacturing is our wheelhouse, we’ll never turn away someone looking for a communications position. Or graphic design. Or IT. We can help them too.
Job seekers have to pay to use our service. Job seekers pay nothing. Zero. Zilch. That’s not how we make money. Instead, the companies we partner with pay us to help them find quality employees. No job seeker will ever need to pay a dime to a company like BARRYSTAFF.
We only offer dead end jobs. The fact of the matter is that there is plenty of room for advancement in the jobs we hire for. Many of our placements have gone on to management positions.
We only work with struggling companies (Why else would they need a staffing company?) This is one we have to push back against fairly often. We work with big companies and small companies. Some are international. Others are hyper local. They use us because it is time-consuming to search, interview and drug screen candidates. It’s expensive. It cuts down on production. Advertising alone can run up a hefty tab. And these days, the job search is changing drastically from year to year. We live in a fast-paced digital world now, and our clients need to stay focused on what they’re doing. More of them are trusting experts like BARRYSTAFF to handle this work. It’s a specialized service during a time of rapid change.
And our services don’t stop at staffing. We often find ourselves working as a fully- functional HR branch for companies. It’s just another amenity we’re proud to offer.
Does your business need short-term help during a busy period? Are you short-staffed, yet not ready to hire a full-time employee? Maybe you’re wondering, “How do staffing agencies work — and do I need one when I have only temporary or seasonal hiring needs?”
Hiring solutions come in all sizes. Full time, yes, but also temporary, temporary-to-full-time, contract and project. Whatever your hiring needs, a top-rated, professional staffing agency gives you quick access to highly skilled professionals you might not find on your own. That eases the workload and provides peace of mind that none of your important projects will be delayed and no details will slip through the cracks.
So how do staffing agencies work — and how can you work most effectively with them? Here are five tips for optimizing your experience as a staffing agency client.
1. Engage a specialized staffing agency
When you work with a staffing agency, make sure it specializes in the type of staff you need. Non-specialized or generalist firms work with a broad variety of candidates, so finding someone with the exact skills and qualifications you need is more difficult and takes longer than if you work with a firm that’s focused on your field.
In addition, specialized staffing firms have a better sense of the candidate marketplace in your industry and geographic area and can effectively evaluate candidates’ experience and skills. Getting a good match the first time saves you time and money.
2. Communication is key
Try to speak with a staffing manager directly rather than communicating only via email. He or she will ask you about your staffing requirements and the length of time you need extra staff.
Make sure you create a job description that completely describes the position’s responsibilities so your recruiter knows the skills the candidate must have. (We’ve come up with a blueprint for creating a job description that can simplify the process.) Mention any policies your business follows, such as dress code, hours (including how you handle overtime) and breaks. These details help your representative get a sense of your corporate culture and what type of professional is likely to succeed there. When you feel you’ve clearly defined your needs, let the recruiter know. He or she will start the search immediately.
3. Get ready, get set …
Prepare your business and the office itself to accommodate a temporary professional. Maximize the benefits of temporary staff to your company and team by setting up in advance. Create a designated workspace. If a computer or phone is necessary, make sure it’s installed and functioning before the interim worker’s first day. And once you’ve brought in your new temporary worker, make him feel part of the team:
- Ensure a smooth start by providing an orientation as you would for any new staff member. Make all appropriate team introductions and designate a point person for any questions that may arise.
- Be inclusive and encourage team bonding by inviting the temporary worker to staff functions such as lunches, team meetings and other group efforts.
- Check in with temporary professionals, as well as the staff members they interact with, to evaluate performance. Even if interim workers have the necessary skills, it’s important to achieve a good fit with your corporate culture as well.
4. Follow up
Providing feedback about the new worker to your staffing agency representative helps both the recruiter and yourself with any future talent searches. Notify the agency at once if there are any problems, and let the recruiter know what specific aspects of the individual’s performance have stood out.
5. Weigh fees vs. costs
For you, the client, there are fees associated with using a staffing agency, but the overall cost is typically a net savings for you if you go with the right firm. Because finding qualified, skilled employees can be time-consuming, you save time and money when you turn this process over to staffing experts. Plus, the most reputable staffing agencies are likely to offer a satisfaction guarantee. So if you aren’t happy with the employee, the firm will identify a replacement.
Communicate your goals and needs to the staffing agency recruiters every step of the way, and you’ll be in the best position to maximize your working relationship with them.
If you’re an active job seeker or simply looking to expand your career horizons, many experts say that in today’s market, working with a recruiter can give you a substantial leg-up.
Combining new technology and staffing expertise to speed up and simplify your job search, these benefits may account for why the staffing and recruitment industry is growing substantially.
Here are five reasons to consider working with a staffing agency, from the experts at Randstad US, a human resources consulting firm.
• Access to “hidden” jobs. Recruiters are often tasked by companies to hire for positions not advertised publicly. The only way to find them is through a staffing agency. Often, these positions are the most sought after in the marketplace, and in some of the most desirable workplaces.
• A huge number of companies rely on them. As the economy embraces an “on-demand” workforce, more employers are turning to staffing firms who use emerging job search technologies alongside their human instincts to deliver the best-fit talent they seek. In fact, more than eight in 10 employers (82 percent) at least somewhat agree that by 2025, their reliance on staffing/recruiting partners will increase, according to Randstad’s Workplace 2025 study.
• Recruiters can be your career agent. Wading through hundreds of online job boards, company ads and social media sites can be complicated, time-consuming and frustrating. You don’t have to go it alone. A recruiter can help you with your job search, enhance your resume, provide career advice and more. The best recruiters look beyond your resume to understand your career goals, workplace expectations and values to identify the best-fit jobs for you within the digital landscape.
• Not just for temps. Many people assume staffing agencies only offer temporary positions. Recruiters are often asked to search for full-time, permanent and temporary-to-hire positions across a wide range of industries. Even those who begin working as a temporary employee are often hired permanently after proving their value. In fact, the Workplace 2025 study says 56 percent of companies say many of the top talent in their company began as temporary workers.
• It’s free. There aren’t many things you can get for free these days, but the many benefits of working with a staffing company are among them.
“Be sure to work with a recruiter who is passionate about helping you reach your potential,” says Jim Link, chief human resources officer, Randstad North America. “They should play the role of trusted human partner in today’s technology-driven world to ensure you are recognized as an individual, not just another resume.”
Given that more than half of employers (51 percent) named staffing/recruiting firms as their most effective method for finding full-time and contract workers, job seekers should consider taking advantage of this resource to improve their job search chances.