(By Melanie Haselmayr)
“Give the job title a good thorough search on Google, and find out whether there are aspects to this type of position that you were unaware of. Be sure to understand what will be asked of you, and what you’ll need to put forward to meet (and exceed) the company’s expectations“.
One day you open your inbox and there it is: an email alert about a new job posting that describes your dream job, with a company you’ve always wanted to work for! You feel a mixture of excitement and anxiety — this sounds like the perfect opportunity, but what can you do to make sure you land an interview?
Step 1: Make Sure Your Profile Fits the Job Requirements
Before you launch your attack, you need to be sure that you can win the battle. Do you honestly have all the necessary skills? Do you understand what this job title entails in terms of responsibilities and expertise?
Give the job title a good thorough search on Google, and find out whether there are aspects to this type of position that you were unaware of. Be sure to understand what will be asked of you, and what you’ll need to put forward to meet (and exceed) the company’s expectations.
Step 2: Tailor Your Resume to the Job Description
Mind you, I did not say, “Lie about who you are and what you can do.” The point is to rearrange your resume in such a way that the most important information (which, conveniently, meets the position’s key requirements perfectly) can be instantly noticed by the reader. Hiring managers spend an average of 5 seconds skimming through a job application — this is how little time you have to make a great first impression.
Remember, your resume is the key to unlock the door to a job interview. Your goal is to have your resume moved from the “to check” stack into the “potential candidates” stack, and not the trash bin.
There is one easy trick that has been a helpful friend of mine in many job hunts — the infamous introductory page. Instead of sending a standard resume that has “personal details, educational background, skill set, and professional experience” all laid out in perfect order, dare to switch it up. You need to put your most significant achievements that are relevant for the new job in the spotlight:
- Insert an extra page before your actual resume. It will be your introductory page to explain why you are the best fit for the job.
- Move the most relevant previous job titles onto that new page and arrange them in chronological order.
- Extend your list of duties on each job, and make it understood that you’ve been working toward the desired position and have all the skills and experience required to meet expectations.
- Keep the rest of your resume as is; the introductory page should do all the selling, whereas the remainder of your resume is meant to provide any additional information that might be of interest.
- Do what you can on the design side of things. Try to make your resume a attractive visual representation of your personality.
Note: Please, please do not forget to convert your resume into a PDF file. (Sending a Word document is so 1999.)
Step 3: Give Your Resume a Creative, Descriptive Title
I can’t stress this enough — a great resume gets you the job interview, but what gets your resume actually looked at? The answer is the title of the document.
Too many times I’ve seen people send out their resumes without paying attention to the title they gave the file. My favorite no-no’s are:
- Document 12 John Mayer
- CV Sandra M 2014
Looks awkward, doesn’t it? Here’s how you should do it:
- Katherine Baker for Front Office Manager
- Sales Professional Martin Sanders
- Oscar Winter – Ambitious Outlet Store Manager
Let’s apply a general rule: the more creative the position, the more creative the resume and its headline.
Step 4: Do Some Research on the Hiring Manager
In order to get yourself noticed (and your resume read), you need to ensure that your email ends up in the right inbox. Having a reply-to email address like jobs@ or careers@ is great, but there is one extra trick you can try to get ahead of the other candidates: knowing the person you are applying to.
The goal is to find a direct (work) email address of the hiring manager in charge, which is actually pretty easy.
- Search LinkedIn to find the name of the person who holds the hiring manager position (if not already listed on the job ad).
- Use that name to create various possible email address versions and search for them on Google: a.garcia@, andrew.garcia@, andrewgarcia@, garcia.a@, etc. I’ll bet you that in 9 out of 10 cases, you will find the person’s direct contact email on the Web.
- Use that email address as the primary recipient, and the generic job application email address as the secondary recipient. This way you will be contacting both.
While I do encourage some moderate stalking (as explained above), please do not take it too far: sending emails to personal email accounts, calling cell phones, or showing up at someone’s doorstep is the wrong approach and might get you in bigger trouble than just wiped off the “potential candidates” list.
Step 5: Do Not Let More Than 2 Days Pass Before You Send in Your Application
Once you’ve got your resume reorganized, your headline title, and the contact email of the hiring manager, it’s showtime! Create a short introductory email that explains why you are interested in the position and how you can contribute to the company’s success with your specific skill set.
It is important that you act fast. You don’t want someone else to steal your thunder and meet the job’s requirements before you even get to audition. It’s okay to let up to two days go by before you apply, but, in general, the sooner the better!
If you do not hear back from the company within another two days, don’t be a stranger — pick up the phone and call. Ask to speak with the hiring manager (whom you now know by name), and once on the phone with him/her, ask whether your application was received and if there was anything you could add to it.
You’ll shine because of your thorough resume, appropriate follow up, and initiative to provide more details. Before you know it, you’ll have an interview on your calendar.
P.S. Don’t think you have to wait for your favorite company to post a dream job opening. Find out who’s in charge, tailor your resume to the position you want, and send it out! In fact, I’ve landed most of my jobs because I sent blind applications to companies that seemingly weren’t hiring. It never hurts to take a chance.
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