It takes a lot of effort to apply for a job. Potential employers may ask you to write lengthy submissions on key criteria, you'll need to adapt your CV to suit the job and potentially have a professional photograph taken, research the company and write a covering letter, update your social media sites and network with anyone who knows a way into the potential employer. And then: nothing. Not even a response.
Most of us have experienced this. But, rather than becoming disheartened or taking the lack of response personally, Brien Keegan - New Zealand country manager for specialist recruitment company Randstad - says the best way to get past gatekeepers can be as simple as building up a trusted relationship first.
As Zig Ziglar famously said: "If people like you, they'll listen to you. But, if they trust you, they'll do business with you."
Translated: they'll give you that plum job.
"There's nothing wrong with a quick phone call to tell them you're interested in working at the company and trying to establish some trust," says Keegan, whose company puts around 600,000 people to work each day in more than 40 countries.
"Everyone wants someone they trust, who's passionate about their company, working with them."
To get that first step through the door - past the gatekeeper - Keegan's tips include:
• Tap into the hidden job market, estimated to be around 80 per cent of jobs available. There are four ways to find jobs not advertised - through your network, by building a partnership with a trusted recruitment agent, through your social network on sites such as LinkedIn and by directly approaching companies.
• Stop looking at the hiring manager, recruitment consultant or potential employer as a gatekeeper and see them instead as a business partner who can help you. You want to extend trust by showing why you're interested in their company and build a relationship, even if it's not going to pay off in the short term.
• Don't send out your CV in a scattergun approach. A hiring manager doesn't want to hear you've approached them through six or seven different channels, or that you've applied to multiple roles within the company. The last thing you want is to devalue your personal brand.
• Make sure you're focused on what you want, where you're heading and who you want to work for. Then you'll be able to explain to potential employers why you're a good match for that organisation.
• Consider going to a specialist recruiter working with companies in the industry of your choice. They'll be able to advise you about the best kind of CV to craft for the companies you're interested in working for.
• The worst thing you can do is fabricate information on your CV. You can do long-term damage to your career, especially in small job markets, such as New Zealand.
• There's a saying, "Your greatest sales pitch is your interview." Make it count.
• Make sure you're able to be found online, because recruiters are now searching for the candidates they want to poach online. Highlight specific skills you may have so that when searches are done your name comes up.-Do your research on a recruitment company before signing up and ask friends and colleagues for recommendations. The more due diligence you do the better service you will get. One tip is to ask the potential recruiter how they would represent you in 30 seconds to see whether they understand your skills and attributes.
In a recent Randstad survey of 7000 New Zealand workers, 20 per cent said they were looking to make a move in the next 12 months.
By becoming focused on their career direction and building up trusted relationships with recruiters and contacts, jobseekers could save everyone - including employers wading through hundreds of scattergun approaches - a lot of time and effort.