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Kiyoshi Takahase Segundo—Alamy

Here's How Recent College Grads Can Get Their Job Applications Noticed

Updated: Jul 10, 2016 4:53 PM UTC | Originally published: Oct 06, 2015

We've all been there. You've submitted half a dozen (or more) job applications and, weeks later, haven't heard back from a single one.

Are you doing something wrong? You may never know.

This is what's called the résumé black hole. And it’s especially demoralizing for anyone with little job hunting or work experience.

One new job finder tool, which goes live today, attempts to address that. The tool, from the job-training program and talent marketplace Koru, lets applicants search for openings at the company's employer partners, apply using a personalized form, and then get feedback—instead of dead silence.

Launched in 2013, Koru is probably best known for its short-term, employer-embedded programs to prepare recent college graduates for the workplace. But not everyone can afford that boot camp experience, which runs $2,750, so this is the company's attempt to expand its reach.

The new job finder is aimed at what Koru calls “early in career” talent, much the way Hired (which focuses on tech jobs) and Anthology (which allows for anonymous job hunting) have carved out their own niches in the huge online job search industry.

Applicants using Koru's tool take a personality-like assessment developed by the company so employers can see their strengths, based on seven characteristics the company says make employees successful. They also tape a video introduction and submit writing samples for each job they're interested in. The job descriptions include a list of necessary skills plus input from a young professional already in that role to help applicants decide if it's a good fit.

Mistakes You May be Making

Koru’s big sell to job seekers is that each application will be read by a job coach, who will give them helpful feedback. As a result, they may be able to avoid some mistakes that Koru co-founder Kristen Hamilton and other experts say are all too common among early-career job seekers. For example:

Ask not what an employer can do for you. Hamilton says new grads often gush in their personal statement or interview about how much they want to learn from a company, "but that messaging just falls completely flat among employers." Instead, she says, applicants should describe what they can offer to help meet the company's goals.

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Play to your strengths. Early career applicants generally aren't very good at translating what they have to offer. If you've waited tables, highlight your customer service experience and multitasking abilities. Or maybe you took a statistics course and worked with massive sets of data in a biology lab. Put those experiences in context for the employer, Hamilton suggests. If you're applying for a job with an online retailer, for example, that experience could help you use purchasing data to predict what's likely to sell in the future.

Sharpen your résumé for quick reading. You may have heard the statistic that employers spend about 10 seconds on each résumé in the first round of reviewing applicants. That might be an exaggeration, but barely. Meilene Tipp, recruiting manager of Avvo, a legal-advice website that is one of Koru's employer partners, says for an entry-level position, she typically spends no longer than 45 seconds per résumé. So make the seconds count. For example, Tipp says, edit any irrelevant information; since you're not applying to be a student, skip your GPA (possible exception: if you have a 4.0). Choose a simple, readable font and, of course, proofread for typos.

Try to be patient. Even if they're reading as fast as they can, employers need time to sort through all the applications they're likely to receive once they post an opening. Tipp, for example, says she can get 150 to 200 in just the first week. So don't hesitate to follow up, but don't rush it—and calling once or twice should usually be the limit.

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