You're sitting there sending out your resume and you start wondering how many applications it takes to get a job interview. What's a good application-to-interview ratio? It's very hard to give an exact number as it depends on your job search strategy, industry, and experience. There is, however, a general benchmark, which we'll discuss along with some tips to improve your job application-to-interview ratio.
Anywhere from 10% to 20% is considered average and 20% to 30% is a good application-to-interview ratio. Remember that the numbers can be very different depending on your industry and experience level. Entry-level applicants or those changing careers might see fewer responses while job searching because there is a bigger pool. Alternatively, highly technical job openings might be seeking candidates with very specific skills or years of experience. That results in a smaller pool of qualified candidates, meaning a higher chance of being noticed.
So how many resumes do you need to send out before getting a job?
The answer to this completely depends on the individual, the industry, the region, the time of year, and the company. For some, it even comes down to luck.
It will probably be an average of a few dozen applications before landing a job, over the course of many weeks or multiple months.
It's not all about the numbers, though. You need to submit resumes tailored to each position and work on networking, your online presence, and other career development strategies.
Also, remember that there is a crucial step between submitting a resume and landing a job – the interview! Most people don’t land a job without an interview first. It can be easy to feel defeated if you’ve sent out twenty resumes and still have no job. It can benefit you to reframe your efforts by considering how many interviews twenty resume submissions have gotten you.
It really depends on your job search strategy, industry, and your experience level, but if you're getting less than 1 job interview per 10 applications – your resume or job search strategy probably needs some updating. Don't worry, we have five easy-to-implement tips for you!
5 expert tips to improve your job application response rate
There are certain things you can do to significantly improve your application-to-interview ratio during the job hunt. Our team of career experts recommends these five tops above all.
1. Optimize for the ATS
Most companies today--90% or more--use what's called ATS (Applicant Tracking Systems) to automatically screen resumes. Around 75% of resumes are automatically rejected by these systems. If you're applying for jobs through job boards or other online application channels like LinkedIn or Indeed, your resume is probably going through one of these systems before a hiring manager sees it.
ATS resume scanning software is designed to parse a resume for work experience, skills, education, and other relevant information, assigning a score to each candidate. A high score means you check off a lot of the qualifications that the job description details (which ATS is programmed to search for). If the resume is a good match for the position, it gets sent forward to the hiring manager. Those that don’t meet the qualifications are rejected and the resume may never be seen by a human.
2. Tailor your resume
Sending out the same resume to every position is a common mistake job seekers make. You need to be tailoring your resume to each position you apply to. That doesn't mean you have to rewrite your resume for each position you apply to, but you should be making minor tweaks and edits to better align your resume with the job description.
The quickest way to do this is by changing your summary and keywords to better fit the job description. You will really see an improvement in your job application response rate when you start tailoring your resume. This is in part due to the widespread use of ATS. If you use keywords from each new job description, you will likely earn a higher ATS score.
3. Start networking
The art of networking changed with the development of social media networking sites like LinkedIn. According to LinkedIn, as many as 85% of jobs are filled through some sort of referral. Building a network is more accessible now because of LinkedIn. Make an account, build a professional community, and reach out to your network to see if people can refer you for a position in their company, or to someone they know who may be worth reaching out to.
4. Follow up
Are you following up after submitting your resume? You may be missing out if you're not sending a follow-up message on each position you apply to. This can also be a simple thank you message.
Example of a follow-up message:
Dear Hiring Manager [include their name if you have it],
I want to reiterate my enthusiasm for the [NAME OF POSITION] role. I’m confident that my [unique attributes or skills] will bring huge value to [company]. I’m looking forward to taking the next steps. If there’s anything I can do to help the process, let me know.
5. Include only relevant information
Remember that your resume should contain only the information that's relevant to the position you're applying for. Many job seekers make the mistake of including "fluff" and other irrelevant information which usually results in rejection. If you have a hobbies or interests section on your resume, this is the time to rethink what relevance it has to employers.
The purpose of a resume is to show the hiring manager during the interview process that you have the experience and skills to get the job done. Limit irrelevant information on your resume and stick to the experience and skills that show you're the perfect candidate for the job.
What factors affect the application-to-hire ratio?
The number one factor affecting being hired is finding ways to stand out from the rest of the candidate pool. The workforce is competitive by nature, and even more so when applying to jobs online. That’s why it’s encouraged to follow tips on improving your ratio. Consider these other factors as well.
The current job market
A poor jobs market is when there are many applicants looking for work but with limited openings available. This can be a result of the economy, specific industry needs, and trends in career pursuits. A good market is the opposite, allowing candidates to demand higher wages for their skills and qualifications. If you can, time your job search accordingly.
Qualifications and requirements
There are two ways of looking at these factors. One is that when a company posts a job description that has a lot of requirements and qualifications, it will simply result in few applicants. If you’re among those who feel qualified enough to apply, you have better odds of being invited for an interview.
On the other hand, entry-level positions which require no or little previous experience can receive hundreds of applications. In these pools, the odds are lower for everyone.
High visibility company
Regardless of if the company has a global scale or small-town popularity, every high-visibility company receives more applicants. If you are interested in pursuing a job at such a company, your best chance may be through referrals. Contact people in your network to try and find a connection who would talk with you.
Remote vs. in-person
The pandemic brought great change to the workforce at large by introducing us to remote work. It seems that remote work has carved out a stronghold, with many people opting to leave the office behind. Because of its popularity, remote positions have become some of the most competitive. Plus, because the nature of those positions is in being location independent, a single job posting can bring in applicants from a much wider region.
Some industries will always be more competitive than others. Technical industries like the medical field or IT require specialized knowledge and a plethora of experience. If you are pursuing an industry with a competitive reputation, it’s worth taking the time to update your documents and socials so that you can be a top candidate.
When there is a highly sought-after position, there will be a high volume of applicants. Employment trends encourage masses of people to pursue special certifications or continuing education. This happens most for positions that only require a mild augmentation to qualifications in return for an exceptional increase in salary. Think of coding for example. This category of position will always lead to more competition.
Whether you're scoring a high response rate or you're getting radio silence, these tips should help you gain more attention for every resume you submit. Remember that your resume is supposed to be reaching hiring managers, so keep your audience top of mind as you apply to jobs. Make your resume look like a perfect match for the job description, follow up, and always be polite.
Good luck with your job search!
Emma Elizabeth, Resume Writer, Emma Elizabeth, Resume Writer
Emma is a certified employment specialist with over 6 years of experience in career mentorship and employment training. With an affinity for technical writing, Emma is passionate about developing training, policy, and procedure manuals. In 2020 she helped design Colorado’s first state-certified training program for people with disabilities entering the workforce.