Getting hired is 'a numbers game' in this economy, says Fairygodboss co-founder: Here's how to position yourself for success

"Many employers don't even look at applications received after the first week."


The coronavirus pandemic has led to historic job losses, but the Congressional Budget Office predicts the next few years will see the economy recover "rapidly," spurring job growth.

Upgrading its U.S. economic outlook, the CBO predicts unemployment will fall from its current 6.3% to 5.3% in 2021, and to 4% between 2024 and 2025. It also expects the labor force will return to its pre-pandemic level in 2022. Those projections do not factor in any new stimulus, including President Joe Biden's $1.9 trillion plan.

All of this could be beneficial for job seekers. If you're looking for work, here are a few tips on positioning yourself for success, according to experts.

Clean up your online reputation

If it's been a few years since your last job search, even as you polish your resume and LinkedIn profile, do a basic Google search for your name. "There's a certain level of hygiene" you want to keep with your online presence, says Georgene Huang, co-founder of Fairygodboss, a career advancement site geared toward women. You need to make sure nothing inappropriate comes up when you're first searched online.

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If the first thing you see when you Google yourself is an inappropriate social media post, see what you can do to remove it so it doesn't pop up when hiring managers look you up.

"If you did have something embarrassing and personal out there," says Huang, "you have to know about it. Whether or not you can fix it immediately is a separate issue, but you have to first know what people are going to see when they search you."

This is also a good reminder that whatever you say or do on the internet leaves an imprint forever. Be cautious in your interactions and know someone could find them in the future.

Highlight 'impact' on your resume

When you're refurbishing your resume in preparation for sending it out, "you have to look at it from the hiring manager's perspective," says Huang. "The hiring manager wants to know what impact you had in the last job."

When you're writing bullets under job titles expanding on your activities, for example, talk about "your actual benefit to the company," she says.

Say your last job was as a content marketing coordinator expanding the company's reach. Instead of writing about how many blog posts you wrote on the company website, write about how many people you brought to the website as a result of those blog posts.

If your last job was as a sales agent, instead of writing about how many sales you made, write about how many new customers you helped the company gain. "It's about impact, not activities," says Huang.

'Apply early'

If you see a job you're interested in on sites like ZipRecruiter, Indeed, or LinkedIn, "apply early," says Julia Pollak, labor economist at ZipRecuiter. "Many employers don't even look at applications received after the first week or after the second week."

Throughout your job search, make sure to have several versions of your resume ready for whatever type of position you might be applying for, and have a good template ready for a cover letter that'll just need light editing per application. This way, when you see a job you're interested in, you can tailor your content quickly and send it off right away.

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"It's really important to research the employer, it's really important to tailor your applications," says Pollak, but "don't let perfect be the enemy of good."

'Develop an elevator pitch'

"The first question in many job interviews is, 'So, tell me about yourself,'" says Pollak. "That should be the question that you are best able to answer."

Prepare an elevator pitch that includes a summary of your skills and experience, what your goals are, and what you're looking to do in your career. Most importantly, "always bring it back to the job itself," says Pollak. Explain how the job fits into your career goals at large, and "quickly transition to talking as though you're a member of the team" by saying how your experience directly relates to what you'd be doing on that job and how you could help the company grow.

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It's 'a numbers game'

"Fortunately or unfortunately, I think the reality is that there's still luck that happens in the world," says Huang, which ultimately makes a job search "a numbers game."

Not hearing back from a company doesn't necessarily mean you weren't eligible for that job or others in the field (or that there's something wrong with you, a conclusion some unemployed people sometimes come to).

It could mean any number of things, including that the company had such an influx of applicants they didn't get to your resume, or they decided to hire from the inside, or the job specifications changed along the way. But none of these are reflective of you or your eligibility for the work.

"Especially during a recession," says Pollak, "you may actually need to send twice as many or three times as many applications to have the same chance of getting a job."

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