Secrets of Job Applicants Who Get Called Back in a Day

Amber Shiflett |
additionalText.categories: Applying, Finding a job

There’s no magic wand we can wave to help get that job we applied for. But there are secrets to boost the odds. And the people who get called back are the ones who know those secrets.

So now it’s your turn to learn them, too!

If you want a company to call you for an interview, you have to know what makes them call anybody in the first place. In other words, you should understand the process from their perspective. Then you’ll know what to do on your end. 

How companies advertise jobs

Companies hire people for two main reasons. Either someone left a job and they have a vacancy or they’ve made a new position and need to fill it. In both cases, the company’s Human Resources department, recruiter or location manager will write a duty description of the job and the qualifications they’re looking for. They might list “minimum” qualifications and “preferred” qualifications. 

Next, they’ll advertise the job on online job boards. Companies and governmental agencies also advertise jobs directly on their websites, and virtually all federal jobs are posted on USAJobs.gov

Apply for jobs you’re actually qualified for

Once the jobs are posted, this is where you come into the picture. Spend time carefully reviewing the jobs you’re interested in and applying to the ones you’re highly qualified for. How will you know if you’re highly qualified? Because you’re going to pay attention to every word on the job posting! 

Many people apply for jobs they aren’t even minimally qualified for. That’s a waste of time and those people almost never get called. The people who do get called are the ones who focus on jobs they meet all the qualifications for!

But it won’t matter how perfect you are for the job if you can’t convince the hiring manager with your application. And your application won’t be seen unless it convinces their applicant tracking software first! 

Getting past applicant tracking software

What’s applicant tracking software, or ATS? This is a type of intelligent software program that companies use to pre-screen applications. Most job ads get hundreds of responses and companies doesn’t have time to look at them all. So they use an ATS to weed out a good chunk first. Numbers vary, but some say that ATS screens out at least half of the applications received. 

That saves HR folks time, but it can work against job seekers who don’t know how ATS works. In a nutshell, all it does is scan for keywords. If it sees the words it wants, it lets the application move forward. If it doesn’t see what it wants, the application will never seen by human eyes. 

So how do you get your application past those ATS police? Easy! Remember when we said to read every word of the job posting? We mean that literally because the postings contain the keywords that an ATS screens for. It's like a teacher giving you the answers to a quiz...but not letting you know they’re doing it. 

Print out the posting and highlight the keywords and phrases you see. Then pull up your resume or application and start editing. Work in as many keywords as possible, in a natural way that doesn’t seem forced. It doesn’t do any good to slip past the ATS, only to have an HR person see the application and roll their eyes. 

Fill out your application to match the job posting

While you are making your application ATS-friendly, go through each bullet point. Make sure each line addresses something on the job requirements. Focus on giving them what they’re looking for, because when your application gets to a hiring manager, they’re going to crosscheck your listed background (things you did in the past) against the job requirements (things they want you to do in the future). 

Basically, you’ve got to take their job posting and fill out your application to match what they’re looking for. Make it impossible for them to ignore you. But don’t exaggerate. Only apply for jobs you’re genuinely the right match for. 

Using a cover letter to compliment your application

Alright, once your application is ready to go, take a look once more at that job posting. Does the employer ask for anything else? Do they want a cover letter or is there an open field on the application? If so, you’ve got more work to do. Even if it’s optional, take them up on the offer. Use every chance they give you to sell yourself. The resume is your ticket to getting an interview, but the cover letter offers you a way to share some personal background, to humanize yourself in a way that the application format can’t.  

The cover letter lets them get to know you as a person, not just another application. So before you start writing, read their company mission and vision statements, and describe how your own goals synchronize with theirs. At the end of the day, the cover letter is a fantastic bonus for any application, but it may only get read if the application first proves you’re qualified for the job.

Don’t forget to follow-up

After you’ve submitted your application, your work isn’t finished. If you don’t receive some sort of confirmation back, we recommend reaching out to confirm that they received it. If the job posting listed a deadline to submit applications, make sure you confirm they got yours before that deadline. 

If possible, you might also ask if they can share their timeline for when they’ll start holding interviews. Take note of that date! If you don’t hear something from them by then, you can politely ask for a status check. Don’t assume you didn’t get the job, because sometimes they simply have to shuffle their dates around. By taking the initiative to ask, it shows them you’re staying on top of things! 

Put these tips into practice—find jobs on Snagajob and start applying today!