Landing a job today seems to be a very difficult task, leading many to search for answers. Clearly there are many different pieces to getting a job, from submitting a resume to landing an interview. Nonetheless, getting an interview or a callback—your “foot in the door”—is often times the most difficult part. A little practice and research will help to change that.
First, what are your interests? It often is surprising to know that many companies that you’re interested in are always looking for unique talent. New perspectives, after all, are what help businesses stay competitive. Find a company that you are interested in, and compare the job openings to your unique skills and abilities. Job openings can usually be found on the company web site under “careers” or something similar. It is important to look at a wide variety of positions, and keep in mind your experience and education with the job requirements. You may not get the VP of Operations position, though you may be well qualified as an Operations Analyst. It is rare that you will find the ideal job initially. The important thing is to get your foot in the door, build contacts, and get your name out. No openings at the companies that you are interested in? That’s fine! Think about their suppliers, customers, and other associates. Eventually, you will find a company that has an opening that meets all or most of your qualifications.
Next, follow the application guidelines. Different companies have vastly contrasting hiring requirements. It is important to follow these accurately, professionally, and courteously. If the company requires a cover letter, submit a cover letter. Some prefer you to upload your resume; others want you to use their resume tool. Understand the “key words” for the position in which you are applying. For example, if the position is for a lead programmer, a company is looking for someone with leadership and managerial experience, as well as a considerable amount of programming knowledge using various different applications. Look at the qualifications and tailor your resume to fit words. This does not mean lie (honesty is very important), but it does mean using a synonym such as “lead” instead of “managed” may help you get an interview. A general rule for all applications is that it is critical to never complain, and to take your time.
Additionally, ensure that you submit your best work. Incorrect grammar, word choice, and spelling are all big negatives to employers when looking through potential recruits. The simplest error or negative comment will make it easy for the HR representative to hit the “next” button. Keep your resume, cover letter, and any other submitted material upbeat and free of negativity and errors. It is important to have multiple people with different backgrounds review all of your application material. This may include everyone from your mom or dad to a college professor, to your career counselor or librarian. These different perspectives will help you to provide a multi-faceted resume and other hiring documents that will appeal to a broad range of people, free of errors.
Be yourself…be super-yourself. Are you a flashy person? While it is inappropriate to send out a resume on three dollar sheets of paper, you may consider attaching a personalized business card, with all of your skills and abilities. Are you a great organizer? Think about sending out your documents in a helpful but differently organized way (be sure not to make this annoying or cause extra work for the reviewer…in fact, if you do this, it should save the reviewer time). Everyone has distinctive traits that are valuable to a company. Think about subtle ways to convey this to the HR rep. Believe it or not, the people reviewing your documents are similar to you and I. Think about what you would like to see if you were in their position, reviewing resumes. Think about your concerns specific to the company, to new hires.
Now you are well on your way to being noticed! Following instructions, being professional and courteous, and adding your own unique (but helpful) spin on things may just help you land your next job. Never be afraid to take the first step.