Job seekers twenty years ago made follow-up phone calls to potential employers after responding to advertised positions.
Do that today and you’re likely to be ignored.
A common job seeker frustration is not hearing back from a company you’re interested in, especially when it sounds like a perfect fit.
Improve your odds. Get a phone call by writing to the expectations of your reader. Take a moment to think about what the recipient wants to see on your résumé, then make their dreams come true. If your background is a fit, show them why and how.
Wondering how to get the attention of potential employers?
- Use keywords and phrases in your résumé. Keywords are usually nouns, and they’re listed right there in the job description. Odds are, your résumé will be scanned by Applicant Tracking Software before it is ever seen by a human being. Fail to include keywords, and it will never see the light of day.
- Present accomplishments that matter. Don’t trouble recruiters with irrelevant information, even when you have a super fantastic accomplishment floating around. If it’s irrelevant, give it the personal tip-of-the-hat that it needs, but consider it an artifact in your current job search. A résumé is not a biography. (See my quote on the topic in Monster.com’s recent article, Resume Accomplishments You Should Omit.)
- Exploit résumé skimming psychology. So your résumé made it through the scanner. Make sure its human recipient doesn’t miss key points about your background by using white space strategically. Want to use bold copy or italics? Be cautious. Too much bold and your copy loses its punch. A graphic designer once told me: “Bold is meant to catch the eye, so use it sparingly. Italics are used for two purposes: to speed or slow down the reader.” I often use italics in the company section of a client’s resume to list revenues, employee count, and a company description. Important information when considering fit, but innocuous enough that it can be seen or missed on the first skim.
Try these three techniques and see if you don’t see an improvement in your job search ROI.
This article was originally published April 2006. Here are a few updates.
I often refer clients to this excellent Peter Bregman blog post: How to Handle Silence, the Worst Kind of Feedback. I also like Lindsay Olson’s Money.UsNews.com article: Great Interview But No Offer: Why You Didn’t Get the Job.
Don’t forget the power of networking. It’s rumored that up to 85% of jobs are never posted or announced. Instead, they are found through your own network. Consider “the power of weak ties,” detailed by Malcolm Gladwell in The Tipping Point.
Also, much has been said about building a great LinkedIn profile. As a bonus, consider using LinkedIn to conduct “backwards research” about the company you’re considering, and profiles of its decision-makers. It’s great prep work for contacting and potentially meeting the very people who hold the key to bringing you on board. While you’re thinking about LinkedIn, check out Jason Alba’s fantastic book and DVD, “I’m on LinkedIn, Now What?”
Until next time!