It’s not that recruiters, hiring managers, and members of your professional network aren’t capable of thinking and remembering.
Of course they are!
But, successful job seekers don’t make recruiters work hard to hire them.
Smart and successful job seekers focus on positioning themselves to be easy to hire!
YOU MUST Tell Them What You Want to Do – The Job You Want
Don’t send a generic resume and expect a recruiter or employer to look at it and figure out what you can do and where you could fit into their organization.
“I’m tired of [whatever], and I’m ready for change.” Or “I need a bigger paycheck.” These are too generic and unfocused to be useful.
“I’m looking for something in marketing or sales.” Or “I’d like to work in IT.”
- BEST: “I’m looking for a job in B2B marketing or sales, preferably for a large consulting firm.”Or
“I’d like a job in network security for a financial services company.”
These are focused and clearly describe the desired job. Of course, these are only examples. Use what is appropriate for you.
Most employers or recruiters are too busy to provide you with career coaching and/or mind-reading services, so be as clear as you can about what you want. [To learn more about how recruiters work, read Working with Recruiters written by recruiter Jeff Lipschultz.]
Networking contacts, no matter how well-intentioned, won’t be able to help you without knowing what you want to do. They can’t read your mind any better than an employer or recruiter.
Make it easy for people to help you by telling them the job that you want. Apply specifically for a job you are qualified for and that you know they have open or suspect that they will have open in the future.
Clearly Align Your Experience with Their Requirements
When you are submitting your resume for a job, don’t make the person reading your resume wonder why you applied for their job.
Show them why you applied in these 4 ways:
Only apply for jobs for which you are a good fit.
Focus on the right jobs for you.
Look at the job’s requirements and the skills, experience, and education they want in an applicant.
Don’t waste your time, or the recruiter’s, applying for something that’s not a good match.
You are thinking, “Why not give it a try, just in case?”
If a human actually sees your resume or application, they are thinking, “Can’t this idiot read?” Do this often enough with the same recruiter, and you’ll be training that recruiter to ignore you.
These days, most employers use technology to separate the “possible” from the “unqualified” candidates. Without the appropriate keywords for the job, your resume or application will not pass the screening technology (a.k.a. “applicant tracking system” or “ATS”), so it will not be seen by a human being.
When you apply for a job, take the time to do it right:
- Customize your resume and cover letter to this opportunity, using the terms the employer has used to describe the job (Personal SEO).
- Make sure that your LinkedIn Profile and other online visibility that supports your goal.
Tell them how you are a good match in the cover letter, and show them in the resume.
In the cover letter, list the job’s requirements, and then match those requirements specifically with the skills or experience you have that are appropriate. (Read more on reaching out to recruiters).
Customize your resume so that the relevant skills and experience are highlighted. Leave out the things that aren’t relevant to this job, unless your resume is only one page long. If you haven’t had much response to your resume, have a friend look at it, or get professional help. (For help with your resume, read Job-Hunt’s Guide to Resumes and Cover Letters and review the sample resumes).
When responding to a job description, use the same terms (keywords) the employer has used to describe the job.
If the employer has named the job “Administrative Ninja” and wants someone with extensive experience with “Microsoft Office products, particularly Microsoft Word and Microsoft Outlook,”
be sure to include exactly those terms on your resume or application.
Using the appropriate keywords for the job means your resume or application have a better chance of standing out in the ATS and being reviewed by a human being, as described above.
Correctly using keywords is called Personal SEO, finding and using the best keywords for you. Understanding Personal SEO is an essential skill for job search success today. Read The Top 25 Keywords for Your Job Search for more details.
Make sure they find the right LinkedIn profile – YOUR LinkedIn profile!
Before inviting you for an interview (or making a job offer), the employer will research you online to verify the “facts” on your resume and get a sense of your personality.
Most employers expect, and want, to see your LinkedIn profile. Make it easy for them to find your LinkedIn profile by including your profile’s URL in your resume, application, and email signature block.
The key to success here is to clearly connect the dots between their requirements and your skills and accomplishments. This enables employers to see that you meet their requirements.
Follow the Directions
Duh! Who doesn’t follow directions? You’d be amazed! Job seekers in a rush, apparently…
Recently, a recruiter put a sentence in a Monster job posting asking applicants to include a one-paragraph description of their most significant accomplishment of the past year.
- Only four out of twenty applicants included an accomplishment, as requested.
- Only one of those four linked that accomplishment to the job they were seeking.
So, only one out of every twenty applicants got through the initial screening. By actually reading the entire posting, following the directions, and aligning their response to the needs of the job, they beat ninety-five percent of their competition!
When you do follow the directions, whether it’s the preferred format for your resume, what to include in your application, or when and how to contact them, you are demonstrating that you pay attention to details.
This is a soft skill that many people claim, but few demonstrate clearly — a skill most employers want.
Don’t Make Them Remember
Follow up your resume and cover letter with a phone call, but do not expect them to know or to remember you.
- Give them the context. Tell them your name, the job you want (and its requisition number or any other administrative identifier it might have, if you know it), and when you applied for it.
- Identify yourself and your goal. Follow with a “soft” sales pitch, giving a summary of your qualifications for the job and emphasizing your interest in it.
- Ask for an update.
Politely ask what is happening with the job you are seeking (what progress is being made, when are people going to be called in to interview, when the decision is going to be made, etc.)
Stay in touch, in context.
Ask for Permission to Stay in Touch
After you’ve discovered the status, ask them if you can call back in a week (or 2 weeks or the end of the week – whatever seems appropriate after you’ve learned the status of their applicant search). Most times, if you are in any way qualified, they will tell you it’s OK to stay in touch.
However, if they tell you not to bother, then move on to another opportunity, if you have one. If it’s a job you really want, but they’ve told you not to bother staying in touch, you might try one more contact to see if you just caught someone at a bad time or in a bad mood.
If you receive 2 “go away” messages, pay attention, and move on.
Polite Persistence Is Powerful
When you have permission to stay in touch, DO stay in touch. Politely. Infrequently!
When you said that you would, or when they told you you could.
Follow up. Find out what’s happening with the job you want — ask them for other similar opportunities if this one falls through. Check their job opportunities to see if anything appropriate for you has opened since you applied for the other job.
Keep things in context — don’t expect them to remember you, although by the 3rd or 4th phone call to the same person, they probably will.
If you make it through the interview process, but don’t get the job offer. Continue to stay in touch — IF you really want to work for that employer!
Send a thank you note after you have been rejected often turns that rejection into an opportunity.This is a VERY powerful move, and often puts you at the top of the list for their next job opening.
The Bottom Line:
It always seems to take too long to land a job, but it will happen. Just keep trying and keep your spirits up. If you have a good network, you many not need to go through the job application and resume submission process.
More About Successful Job Search Today
- Tapping the Hidden Job Market
- How to Make Employee Referral Programs Work for You
- Guide to Job Search Networking
- How to Be Found by Recruiters on LinkedIn
About the author…
Online job search expert Susan P. Joyce has been observing the online job search world and teaching online job search skills since 1995. A veteran of the United States Marine Corps and a recent Visiting Scholar at the MIT Sloan School of Management, Susan is a two-time layoff “graduate” who has worked in human resources at Harvard University and in a compensation consulting firm. Since 1998, Susan has been editor and publisher of Job-Hunt.org. Follow Susan on Twitter at @jobhuntorg and on Facebook, LinkedIn.
Don't forget to share this article with friends!