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The job application process that improved results by 7000%

James Clift | October 13, 2015


An anonymous job seeker recently shared a story on Reddit about how she applied to 100+ jobs in the last few months, and just now started to get interviews. With a few simple changes, she increased her interview rate from 1 to 71%.

Instead of following the same process every job seeker does, these are the 5 rules she followed to go from 1 interview out of 100 applications to landing 5 interviews (and a job!) out of the next 7 applications.

Apply to only a few jobs per week

I applied to two jobs a week only.

Instead of applying for every job you meet the basic criteria for, focus on quality applications for fewer jobs. Only apply to jobs that excite you — this excitement will show in your application.

Your chances of landing an interview by spamming your resume to hundreds of companies is slim — but with only a few target jobs you’ll have the time to put effort into a better application. When you’re competing against hundreds of other candidates it is necessary to focus to succeed.

Spend hours researching the company

With each job, I’d take about three or four hours to research the company.

Companies want to hire employees who are passionate about the organization. The extent of most job seekers' research is a Google search and a quick browse of the companies' About page. This is a huge missed opportunity.

Take the time to study the organization. Learn about recent news articles and happenings, key team members, and social events. Study the companies' social media profiles, and get an idea of their culture. All of this information comes in extremely handy during each stage of the job application process.

Write a completely original cover letter

I would write a completely original cover letter, tailoring it to the job description. If the job description was casual and quirky, I’d be casual and quirky. If it was serious, I’d be serious.

An original cover letter shows a company that you’re passionate about their company, as well as a skilled communicator. Most people simply change a paragraph when writing a cover letter, which is obvious (and lazy).

Adapting your cover letter to the company’s style will shows you’re a good culture fit and willing to go the extra mile.

Include all keywords in your application

I would include all of the key words I saw in the description (research, writing ability, juggling multiple projects, etc) with specific examples.

Initially, recruiters are simply pattern matching your resume to the job description. They’re looking for the fastest way to find the best fit for the job. If your application doesn’t match, they’ll take any excuse to eliminate a resume.

Including relevant including keywords both on your resume and cover letter will make their job easy.

Find a connection

I looked on LinkedIn to see what 2nd and 3rd degree connections I had with that company, and if any alumni of my college work there, and email them for an informational interview. For all but the tiniest companies I was able to find at least one person to interview, and they all agreed to speak with me.

LinkedIn is a valuable networking tool for finding connections with a company. Reaching out for an “informational interview” will build a relationship with people that can impact the hiring decision.

If you make a good impression and build rapport, they are likely to give you a positive referral which increases your chances of landing the job exponentially.

Do this for every job

Remember, this is a process. Do not expect magic results right away, but if you follow it for every job you apply for - you will see the results.

Blost post author James Clift

About the author

James Clift

James is the CEO of VisualCV. He has spent the last 10 years building businesses, from window cleaning to software. His passion is helping individuals create the careers they want.

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