In today’s job market, with hundreds or thousands of applicants for many job openings, the ability to land an interview might be the most important part of your job search process. The task, then, is to make your application stand out from the rest. Here are some tips to help you get the right kind of attention.
Begin with a job-specific resume
Take your basic resume and target it to the specific job by emphasizing key relevant experiences and accomplishments. List the most appropriate skill sets and experiences for the job you want. Then eliminate things that are not directly relevant to the particular job.
Job postings and descriptions always list prerequisites such as specific skills, specific knowledge and often specific experience the company wants in their new hire. List every one of these on your job-specific resume. If you are lacking a skill, address how you plan to learn the skill in your cover letter.
Read the job description carefully for secondary skills desired and for buzz words.
These buzz words will likely be industry jargon or technical terms or references to key personal characteristics sought in the new hire. Be sure you understand how these buzz words are being used, and then include them in your resume. Many companies scan resumes for buzz words and make a decision based on use of these terms. Don’t over-do it. Just include the words once or twice, as appropriate.
Use the cover letter to make a strong impression.
Address the letter to a real, specific person. If the job posting does not list the name of the hiring manager, call the company and get the name (with correct spelling).
Use the cover letter to your advantage. Explain why you are interested in the specific job, what key advantages you believe you offer over other applicants, and why you want to work for the particular company.
This is also an opportunity to address how your skills offset any deficiencies (lack of any specific listed skills) and how you plan to quickly correct the deficiency.
Provide specifics about how and when to contact you.
Call the hiring manager
Some people think calling a hiring manager is too pushy. It is not pushy if handled correctly, and the follow-up call can set you apart from the crowd.
When you feel confident that your resume has reached the correct person (you should probably allow two business days for e-mail and five for postal service), then call the hiring manager for the specific job for which you have applied.
You might need to make several calls if you do not have a name on the job posting, or you might be transferred around a few times, but persistence will get you to the right person.
- Begin with a brief but adequate introduction of yourself.
- Give your name, the job for which you are applying, how you submitted your resume, and say a little bit about why you want the job.
- Then ask for an interview.
- Tell the manager when you are available and what you think you could bring to the company and to the job.
It might get you an interview scheduled on the spot.
Follow up by requesting a face to face meeting
If the initial call did not accomplish your goal of getting an interview scheduled:
- Call the manager again and ask if you can meet face to face, maybe over either coffee or a meal (on you).
- Tell them you will limit your time with them to 15 minutes.
- Then be prompt, be dressed appropriately, offer a brief summary of your qualifications and ask questions.
- Ask questions about the company and ask what you could do to strengthen your application. Then keep your word about the time limit.