The face of job hunting has changed drastically – even from just a couple of years ago. I’ve spent a solid 40+ hours researching what it takes to get a job in the current job climate. Being a teacher by nature, I’m simply not content to hoard all this glorious wisdom to myself. So, without further hesitation, please allow me to share some of the extremely helpful tips I’ve discovered:
Time and time again, my research has pointed to the concept of tailoring your resume AND cover letter to each separate job that you apply to. For most people, this is hard to swallow. After all, the act of crafting a compelling cover letter in and of itself can take an enormous amount of time. However, in today’s job market this requirement is not negotiable. No matter what your industry, if you want to be competitive, you must tailor your resume and cover letter to the job advertisement. So what is tailoring? Tailoring is the act of focusing all of your attention on the job advertisement and figuring out exactly what qualities and skills the employer seeks. Then you match your skills and qualities to their needs on paper. 80% of the information you need is contained right on the job advertisement. Let’s say you’ve found a job you want. The next step is to go through the job ad with a pen or highlighter, underline or mark key words and phrases from the job ad, then match them to your job duties and accomplishments. From there, you’ll want to insert as many of those keywords into your resume and cover letter as possible depending on your specific experience. This serves two functions:
a. It will get you past Applicant Tracking System (ATS) robots. The more keywords and phrases you match, the higher your chances that your resume and cover letter will be seen by a human – and the higher your chance of gaining an interview.
b. Even for jobs that don’t employ the dreaded Applicant Tracking System (and they do exist, take heart!), tailoring your resume and cover letter will put you ahead of your competitors. It shows that you are detail oriented. It shows that you care. It shows that you will go beyond the minimum requirement. Show, not just tell. This, in turn, reflects positively on your work ethic.
So, you’ve carefully highlighted key words and phrases and you’ve inserted them into your resume and cover letter. You’ve done your very best at this point. You think there is at least a 60 percent chance (maybe higher!) that you’ve beat the robots. But- you don’t know for sure. Maybe they received 100 applications and the robots filtered out all but 10 and all your competitors tailored their resumes as well. You’re not going to leave this to chance. You are smarter than that. You’re going to find out who the hiring manager is and send them a personalized cover letter and tailored resume via old fashioned snail mail. You’re going to stuff a hard copy of that tailored resume/cover letter into an envelope and send it USPS. Here’s a guideline:
a. Your first step is to find the company’s business, administrative, or HR office address. In most cases, this will be a piece of cake. Hello- it’s the age of the internet. If the business office address is not on the job ad itself, a quick google search will do the trick. Once you’ve done this, you have the address for the envelope. Step one is now complete.
b. Secondly, you need to make every effort to find out the name of the hiring manager. The purpose is so that you can put “Dear. Mr. __(specific name)” instead of “To Whom it May Concern” on your cover letter. Back in the day, this was easy. If you had a Linkedin account, you could just hop on Linkedin, look up the company and boom - there is the hiring manager of XYZ company/position right there. Nowadays, it’s more difficult because many Linkedin users are on paid Premium accounts – meaning that none of their information (title, company) is available unless you are also a Premium user. But don’t despair – there is a much simpler method. I used it just today.
c. Find out the number of the business office, then call and explain that you are writing a cover letter and you would like to address it to the proper person. I did this twice today and it worked like a charm. Be humble about it, “Good Afternoon! I’m writing a cover letter for such and such position and I would like to know if there is a person I can address this to?” At most companies, you would be surprised at how understanding and helpful administrative folks are about this issue. They know where you are coming from – they’ve been there. They’ll fork over the name of the hiring manager without much hassle. For larger corporations, you may either never get a human being on the phone, period, or worse - when you do get them on the line, they’ll be tight-lipped. They’ll tell you that they can’t relay that information due to company policy. That’s okay. Just send your tailored resume and cover letter and say “Dear Recruiter”. But do this only as a last resort after you’ve done your best to try to find the name of the hiring manager.
Networking! What a pain in the behind for those of us who are not naturally extroverted, RIGHT? Nevertheless, in my findings I have determined that this is essential. If your trade is connected to a professional organization, by all means attend trade meetings, make friends and put your feelers out there. Let folks know that you are in the market for a job. Another option is to join a decidedly non-job social group focused on recreation or making friends, such as Meetup.com. If you’re unemployed, you have plenty of time for this. The only thing standing in your way is your own anti-social nature (I speak from experience here). In making friends naturally, the topic of what you do for a living (job hunting!) will come up in conversation. If you have a natural rapport with someone, this may lead to that person knowing about a job opportunity in your field.
Final note: As a final note, I want to say that I realize that much of the research I have done and much of the advice here is geared toward people in business or professional level positions. One of the biggest annoyances to me in my research has been the assumption on part of most job-advice websites or blogs that EVERYONE is either mid-level career or a professional office worker. Blue collar folks in non-office industries and entry-level folks are left in the dust.
On one hand, this advice could still be useful for both groups depending on the industry and position. No matter what your industry, you always want to put your best foot forward. On the other hand, I know for a fact that all of this would have foreign to me when I was a 21 year old tossing packages around and driving tugs for UPS and had no sense of career direction in my life whatsoever.
I also know that there are math-oriented people working in construction and similar industries who can glance at a building and tell you the square pounds of pressure in each structural beam (or whatever!) – people who are total math savants but suck at writing. And let’s face it; much of what we have discussed here involves skill in writing and word/phrase analysis. For that situation I would encourage you to visit your local job center/worksource center and attend classes. There are state-sponsored job coaches/employment specialists in most areas who understand your situation – entry-level or non-professional - and these people are totally willing to look at your resume and cover letters and hold your hand through the process. For free! That’s what they DO, and they are passionate about their jobs. By all means, utilize their help if needed.
Also – I’ve sourced this information from dozens of different sites, but please allow me to share my favorite two sources with you: theinterviewguys.com, and Liz Ryan (Forbes, Linkedin) (just google her) Both of these sources contain a ridiculous amount of job-seeker wealth for you to take advantage of.
I hope you’ve found these tips helpful, and good luck in your job searching endeavors.
About me: I’m an HR Professional who took a risk and left a low-level job at a stable company for a higher-level job at a tiny non-profit. Four months later, my senior-level position was eliminated due to budget issues. Now I’m on the hunt and determined to share the insider tips that I’ve discovered and maybe cut my baby teeth in this forum as a sapling advice/blog writer.
Please do not fall for jobs that are too good to be true. Do your research first. I was offered a job from someone pretending to be from Kaiser Permanente. I looked up scams on the internet and there was an alert from Kaiser warning about the scam.
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I interviewed at a retail store, but was not offered the job. I think its because i didnt know much when they asked me questions about the store. should I research about the company before interviewing, or ask about the company when they ask me if i have any questions?
#workfromhome #webdevelop #volunteer #research Does anyone here want free website for yourselves, friends, a group you volunteer for, etc.? I want add to my web development portfolio and volunteer, so doing both at once seems a good idea. I am not good at coming up with a topic, but I can build a website and do online research.