1. YOUR RESUME
It all starts with your resume. If your resume doesn’t grab the reader’s attention in the first 6-10 seconds, your chance of being called for an interview is slim. Hiring a professional resume writer can help because they know the current accepted format and how to present your accomplishments to appeal to a recruiter or hiring manager. However, if you are writing your own resume, here are a few tips over and above good writing, format, and content:
- Have numbers/data to validate your accomplishments. Recruiters understand that some companies do not want employees to share proprietary information that could tip off their competition or maybe even impact the stock market. But they do expect to see some quantifiable metrics that support items in your resume. Even if you write, “Dramatically improved sales 45 percent during a downturn in the market” shows a level of measurement without giving away company secrets.
- Triple check resume for errors. It doesn’t matter if it is a spelling error or an incorrect word (thanks to auto correct, manager can change to manger); whatever the error, it screams to the recruiter that you didn’t pay enough attention to ensure your resume is error-free. They think that if you are careless with your resume, where else might that characteristic show up in work?
- Update contact information. Make sure your most current mobile number, email address, and LinkedIn profile link are included in the resume. What type of impression does that give a recruiter if you are careless enough not to check this all-important area of the resume? A recruiter won’t search very hard, if at all, to find you if you don’t supply them with correct contact information.
2. YOUR NETWORK
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You’ve heard it before, networking is one of the most powerful ways to find a job. But first, you must get the interview! Tap into your network – they may know of job opportunities not yet published, they may be in a position to recommend you for the job (and interview), however, they need your help.
- Make it easy for your network to help you. Be clear about your goals. If you don’t know what you are looking for in your next career move, you can’t expect your network to be able to figure it out. You should have your career goals in place before asking your network for help. Knowing the industry, company, position, and location clearly established will assist your network to refer companies or positions that are on target for your goals. Ask yourself: “What does my network need to know about me, my abilities and goals that would be helpful?”
- Be helpful to your network first. Offer to be of assistance to your network first, build or rebuild your relationships before asking for a favor. You may have two people in your network that you can connect or offer information on a challenging issue. Put yourself in the place of the people in your network and become a valuable partner to them, and they will want to help you in return.
- Don’t forget to ask for help. A former client told me why he always got the sale; his answer… “because I asked for it.” We can’t expect others to instinctively know our needs, so we have to ask for the specific help we need. The better matched your request is to the person’s capabilities to provide assistance for that particular request, the better chance you have of getting an interview. Be realistic when seeking help; asking for an introduction to Bill Gates (for most people) would be an unrealistic request.
3. YOUR LINKEDIN PROFILE
When looking for executives to interview for open positions, most recruiters start with LinkedIn. Even if potential candidates have been referred to them, they still will check them out on LinkedIn. To improve your chances of being called for an interview, your LinkedIn profile should be a professional representation of who you are and what you have accomplished, similar to your resume (but not a direct copy of it).
Recruiters use LinkedIn much like other search engines, using keywords to generate a list of potential executives. Here are a few areas that recruiters consider critical when reviewing a potential candidate’s LinkedIn profile:
- Photo. Recruiters will pass on you if you don’t have a photo on LinkedIn. People are more willing to engage with you if you show them who you are in your photo. That doesn’t mean posting a picture of you in your neighborhood rock band or decked out in a Hawaiian shirt on vacation. The photo should be a professional headshot. No selfies please.
- Summary. In an Inc. interview with Reid Hoffman, LinkedIn’s co-founder, he revealed that your LinkedIn summary should have a goal. Don’t be generic, be unique, show your value. Be sure to weave in keywords so when people are searching for executives with XYZ, your profile will show up. Make sure your summary portrays you well.
- Graphics and videos. Add a little flair, sparkle or zing to your profile. A slideshare presentation on marketing tips, or a short video on team-building are easy to upload and help showcase your talents and skills to your audience. It gives people an opportunity to see you in action in a video, or experience your presentation style in a slideshare.
Remember that people process information differently. The four neurolinguistic processes are visual, auditory, kinesthetic, and auditory digital. The visuals want to read/see content, the auditory people process by hearing information, the auditory digitals need to make sense of everything and see the 1, 2, 3 of things, while the kinesthetics need to feel the “humanistic” side of a story. In order to get more interviews, you need your verbal and written communications to appeal to everyone.
4. ONLINE POSTINGS
Although some people think that job searching is a numbers game, when it comes to the job search, less is actually more. It’s easy to waste a lot of precious time answering online postings, and it can make you feel as though you have accomplished quite a bit of work.
But it’s a false feeling of productivity if you’ve spent countless hours on your computer sending your resume or completing applications that are not targeted – positions for which you are not really qualified. If you have the time, you may think “why not” because they may have something else that they are not advertising for that may be a fit for me.”
In reality, when it comes to answering postings, it’s about quality not quantity. If you respond to fewer positions for which you are qualified, you’ll spend less time tweaking your documents (if they are on track with your goals) giving you more time and motivation to implement other strategies in your search that will yield a higher ROI.
Here’s how to determine the best positions … review each posting carefully and rate it from 0 to 10 on your level of interest and 0 to 10 again on the level of competency (your qualifications, skills and experience). If it’s not 9 or 10, no need to apply.
Now that you have a strategy for the opportunities to choose, the following steps will help you increase your response rate.
Before you apply, email your contacts to ask if they know anyone who works at that company and, if so, to get a “warm” introduction. Any entry point can be helpful.
Contact that employee to schedule a brief conversation (mention your referral source), exchange pleasantries and explain your interest in working for the company. NOTE: You are gathering information at this stage; don’t tell them you are applying for a posted position.
Before your call ends, ask for the name of another person they know in the company who is higher up the ranks. This will help you to navigate through the organization until you get to the person in the functional area as the posted opportunity or the person that you would report to—while gaining valuable information about the employer along the way. Each time, be sure to mention the person that referred you.
If you can’t find anyone in your network initially to jump-start this process, search “people” on LinkedIn who currently work at that company that you can reach out to in the same way (through steps or directly to the decision maker). Notice your level of separation (1st, 2nd or 3rd) from that person and you will be able to see any contacts that you have in common to potentially introduce you.
If the conversation goes well, ask the employee to personally deliver your resume to the decision-maker.
Bottom line, don’t just submit your resume through the online posting process just like everyone else so that it disappears into the cyber hole. Instead, always find the decision-maker—your potential boss—and submit your targeted resume with a compelling e-note (less than 100 words) directly to that individual demonstrating you as the solution. Then follow up by phone to engage in a conversation, learn about next steps and possibly schedule an interview.
These tips can help you be more successful in generating interviews that ultimately may lead to the job offer!