Gone are the days of simply mailing your resume, receiving a call, shaking hands at the interview and agreeing on a start date for that new job. The Internet has taken over the recruiting landscape and everyone is required to submit a resume online. While that brings greater efficiency to the process for employers, it can be awfully maddening for job seekers. But it doesn’t have to be that way if you know how to navigate the system.
Consider these 12 tips before pressing “submit”:
- Search job boards and the websites of employers that appeal to you. Print out the job postings that you’re interested in pursuing before you apply.
- Use a highlighter to mark the keywords and industry language used to describe the requirements and responsibilities of each position.
- Compare those words and phrases to the language that appears in your current resume.
- Figure out how and where to add the most relevant keywords to your resume, assuming you have the specific knowledge, skills and experience. Applicant tracking systems will search for keyword matches – the more matches, the better, which often determines if a recruiter opts to view your resume.
- Once you’re confident that your resume reflects a strong match, go ahead and submit that targeted resume online.
- If the system requests a cover letter, write a short one that expresses why you’re a strong match and why you’d like to join the organization. This is a chance to tout your research on the role.
- Never submit a generic, one-size-fits-all resume or cover letter. If you really want the position, you’ll customize all documents for each job.
- Once you apply, get to work to find an internal referral to make a personal introduction. Here’s how:
a) Make a list of 50 people you know and ask each one if they know someone who works (or has worked) at that employer.
b) Attend job fairs to meet face-to-face with employers and other professionals.
c) Create a free profile and become active on LinkedIn.com or Facebook.com, which boast a combined 60 million users. Surely you can find someone who knows someone to make that connection.
d) Create a free Twitter.com account and “follow” friends and post requests for help. (You can follow Tory Johnson at Twitter.com/ToryJohnson where she posts job leads and where fellow followers can help with contacts.
e) Join an association in your field and network with like-minded peers.
f) Connect with your high school and college alumni groups. Old pals could be new connectors.
g) Talk to your unlikely network. For example, look at the class list of the parents of your kids’ friends. Anytime my kids hear about a friend’s mom or dad who’s lost a job, they tell them to call me. Even though we don’t know each other, we have a common connection that can sometimes lead to a contact.
- Follow up with a call or email to the recruiter responsible for filling the position. Never say, “Did you get my resume?” Instead be ready to reiterate your strong qualifications and interest in the role. You’ll have just a brief moment to sell yourself, so rehearse before making the call or sending the email.
- Don’t know the name of the right person? Cold-call the company and ask an operator to put you through. If that doesn’t work, Google the term “recruiter” or “human resource director” along with the name of your employer of choice. The results may reveal the name you’re trying to find. LinkedIn is another resource to find the correct name.
- Stay top of mind. Every recruiter is different, which makes this a challenge. Some say you’re welcome to follow up weekly. Others say every other week is enough. And then there are some who’ll tell you to never call. Find the right balance so you’re politely persistent without crossing over to a pest.
- Ask directly for advice on how and when to follow up. A simple question, “What’s the best way to keep in touch?” will give you the details you need to stay ahead of the pack.