By Barbara Mitchell
Q: I send out resumes every week but rarely hear back, and I haven't had any interviews yet. What am I doing wrong?
A: Applying online is certainly one way to job hunt, but in today's competitive environment, you have to do a lot more than that. I'm not saying that jobs aren't filled by candidates who apply online, but let's look at some other ways to get noticed and, more important, hired!
First, take a hard look at your resume. Maybe there's something missing that's getting in your way. I know this sounds ridiculous, but is your contact information on your resume? A surprising number of job seekers today neglect to include their email or phone number—don't be one of them.
Are you tailoring your resume for each job you apply for? Don't just send the same resume every time—make it easy for the recruiter (or applicant software) to see that you have what they're looking for. Be sure that you carefully match the job description to your skills and accomplishments. Keep in mind that you need to catch their attention quickly—within the first third of your resume, you should showcase specific skills that meet the job requirements.
Be sure that you carefully match what the employer is looking for to your skills and accomplishments.
If you're sure your resume is in tip-top shape, then think about what really happens when you send your resume in response to a job posting or when you apply using the organization's online application: You go into a system as a total unknown to whomever reads your resume, and all the hiring manager has to go on is what's on your resume. How different would it be if you went to a conference or networking event and met a colleague who asked you to send him your resume so he could forward it to HR or the hiring manager? I have a colleague who says, "If you get there before your resume, your chances of getting hired go up exponentially."
So, this brings me to my next point—you should be networking like crazy! Get out to as many in-person events as you can but also network virtually on LinkedIn. Are you connected to someone who works at a place you'd like to work or knows someone who works at your "dream organization"? Ask for an introduction so that your resume isn't just one of hundreds received but goes in as an employee referral. In most organizations, employee referrals get special attention, and that's what you want.
Finally, it is perfectly acceptable to follow up after you send a resume or apply online. Taking this initiative may take some detective work, but it can pay off.
Be sure your resume is well written and includes your contact information, then network and follow up on your applications. Soon, you should start to see results.
Barbara Mitchell is a human resources and management consultant and author of The Big Book of HR and The Essential Workplace Conflict Handbook. Do you have a question you'd like her to answer in "Ask the Expert"? Send it to [email protected]