Ivy, senior career consultant and founder of Alba, was once an international student from China. She came to Canada when she was 22. She studied hard, worked hard, got good grades and even had work experience in China. But once she graduated from University, she was hit with a cold, hard reality: getting a job is really difficult!
Why is it so hard to find a job?
In the past, if you received a University degree, you had a very good chance of finding the job you wanted (as long as your degree was in the right field of study). That’s because very few people actually graduated from Universities.
But today's job economy is very different from the past. Today, 30-40% of people between the ages of 25 to 64 has a University degree. Almost all of these students have had at least one summer job by the time they graduated. And nearly everybody is capable of using computers, cellphones, and other modern technological devices.
According to Zipjob.com, an average job posting in North America receive 250 resumes. Of these 250 applicants, only 4-6 will be called for an interview, and only one candidate will get the job.
Before you visit another job listing, before you send another resume or cover letter, you need to first understand why it’s so difficult to find a job:
1. Companies are very selective.
In the past, an employee would stay at a company for 25-30 years. There was a lot more loyalty to the workplace before. Today, an average person switches jobs every 3-4 years, so companies need to know you can begin the job and create a difference right away, they can’t train you for 2-3 months. That’s a waste of their money.
2. Applicant tracking systems.
You think HR managers go through 250 resumes a week one at a time? Think again. Applicant tracking systems (ATS) are software that automatically go through all the resumes a company receives, and selected them based on keywords. So next time you apply for a job, make sure you use the right keywords. (Pro tip: try to match the keywords that the job posting uses).
3. Job seekers are all impressive.
You might have a perfect GPA. You might have work experience. You might even look amazing in a suit or dress. But guess what? Many of your other competitors are equally impressive. That doesn’t mean you’re not impressive, it just means the competitive is strong. The only thing standing in between you and the HR manager is your resume. Doesn’t that mean you should spend more time towards writing an amazing resume? Nan Mu, an expert at career counselling and resume writing says “Many of our clients spend 3-4 weeks with us and land a job within that time frame. They often wonder why they didn’t hire a professional career consultant sooner. They could have saved months of their time sending the same outdated resume over and over again.”
What do HR managers look for in my resume?
Remember, companies are very selective when hiring because they have hundreds of applicants to choose from. For the HR manager, her job is to send through the right people for the interview phase. In other words, she just wants to know you are smart enough to do the job. Here are 4 main things HR Managers look for:
Nicely formatted resume
No spelling, grammatical, or punctuation errors
High grades—to see if your IQ is high or above average
Keywords. Like we mentioned, automatic tracking systems (ATS) will usually screen your resume first (not the HR manager) so make sure you fill your resume with the right keywords
How to Ace the Interview
If you’ve made it past the ATS and hiring manager, congratulations—you’re “smart” enough for the company! The next step is usually an in-person interview with one or more members of the company. Sometimes, the company will conduct a phone or video interview first for additional screening. In order to ace the interview, you need to first know what interviewers are looking for. Three main things that interviewers look for include:
1. Are you smart?
Your resume might be outstanding, but they need to make sure. An in-person interview is the best place to test if what you’re saying on your resume is true. They will want you to explain what you did in your past positions, and might even test your IQ with some difficult questions.
2. Do you work well with people?
In any business, everyone needs to work together in order to achieve success. Therefore, you will definitely need to converse with others in the office. How well do you handle your emotions? How well do you communicate with others? How well do you handle other people and their emotions? During an in-person interview, your interviewer will be judging you as a person. Your EQ (emotional intelligence) will enable you to know what the interviewer is wanting to hear and how he wants to hear it. Is your interviewer really proud of his work? Maybe spend time at the end of the interview asking him about what he does or praising him for his effort.
3. Would you fit with the company culture?
Your interviewer knows who else works in this office. During the interviewer, he will be watching how you speak, how you dress, and how you carry yourself overall. Are you a loud, talkative person? Maybe you won’t fit in well with the IT department. Are you very shy and quiet? Perhaps you won’t get along with the sales department. It’s very important to research the company and speak with several people (if possible) before the interview. Reach out to them on Linkedin or go to a career fair if there is one. Now we’re not suggesting you fake who you are just to “fit in” with the company culture. Just relax and be yourself. As much as the company is trying to find out if you are a right fit for them, you are also trying to find out if they are a right fit for you.
A new way of measuring career intelligence: “Career Quotient” (CQ™)
In 2019, Alba developed and trademarked a term called “career quotient” or CQ™ to measure a person’s understanding of the modern career environment. CQ™ is a combination of IQ (intelligence quotient), EQ (emotional quotient) and deep understanding of what a “career” means today.
“The world is extremely competitive. Job requirements have increased, and the qualifications of new applicants have increased,” says Ivy, “there are more people competing for the same or fewer number of jobs. And more importantly, the world has changed and is constantly changing.”
At Alba, we believe that having both IQ and EQ is important to excel in today’s increasingly competitive job’s market. However, in order to succeed and have the dream career you want, you’ll need to develop CQ™. Some of the areas that CQ™ encompasses are:
Jobs industry knowledge
Ability to forecast and develop hard skills for the future
Understanding one’s leadership limitations
Initiative to develop necessary leadership skills