DFN: The only thing that I disagree with is that ‘you’ need to change your resume for every job you apply to; very time consuming, and it assumes that the resume is what gets you in the door. "You" are just as likely to guess wrong as to how to tweak your resume as you are to guess right. And, it would be unfortunate if the hiring manager inadvertently got two copies of your resume which were different, which is likely in this age of the internet.
What can I do to improve my job prospects?
By Jennifer Davies
Saturday, November 7, 2009 at 8:10 a.m.
Looking for a job in this tough economy isn’t easy. Companies are getting hundreds of applications for every open position, and even snagging an interview can seem next to impossible. You are looking for ways to make an impression — a good impression that is. You want a potential employer to see you as a persistent go-getter with unbridled enthusiasm without seeming like a pesky gadfly brimming with desperation. Here’s how to stand out for all the right reasons.
I’ve applied for dozens of jobs online and so far, Zippo, nothing, nada. What am I doing wrong?
First, take a look at your résumé. It needs to be clear and concise, and should highlight your accomplishments and not merely list your job duties. (For tips on how to craft a strong résumé, go to uniontrib.com/more/resumetips.) Also, you need to tailor your résumé for each job that you apply to. The days of sending the same résumé to every company are over.
Why is that?
One key reason is this little thing known in the recruiting business as an applicant tracking system. What’s that you ask? Basically, it’s a software program that looks for keywords in your résumé. If you don’t have them, there’s a good chance you won’t make it to the next round. Look closely at the language in the job posting and try to include all its buzzwords, says Bob Williams, a partner, Williams & Sewell HR Consulting in San Diego. If it says you must know Word, Excel and PowerPoint, then your résumé needs to have each of those words in it. Of course, you should actually have the skills you list.
How should I send my résumé?
Recruiting experts say to follow the directions in the job posting, which will typically ask you to submit it electronically. If you found the job on a site like careerbuilder.com or monster.com, some recruiters suggest that you go directly to the company’s site to apply. Try to apply as quickly as possible — within the first 24 to 48 hours after the job has been posted, says Phil Haynes, director of AllianceQ, a recruitment company. Since employers are getting so many qualified applicants, they might stop looking at résumés that come in later, he explains.
So I just send my résumé in and wait for a call?
Absolutely not. Job search experts all recommend that you also try to find a contact at the company to which you are applying. Search LinkedIn, a social networking site, for possible connections, and ask friends and relatives if they know anyone at companies you’ve targeted. Get your contact to submit your résumé to the hiring department, too. If you are a known quantity, you have a much better shot at getting asked in for an interview, Williams says. In fact, many times jobs aren’t even advertised, so networking is critical for a successful job search. Knock on doors, go to industry events, Haynes recommends. “The key is to be visible. If you are just applying online, you’re invisible,” he says.
I haven’t heard anything since I applied. What do I do now?
It’s OK to call or e-mail the hiring department to inquire about your application and about the hiring process — once. Any more than that and you risk becoming a nuisance. Julie Magnuson, a human resources consultant and president of San Diego Recruiters Roundtable, says if someone sends her an e-mail with the date the application was submitted, she can find it easily and will usually respond.
OK, let’s say I land an interview. Now what?
Research, research, research. Find out as much as you can about the company and the people who are interviewing you. Pore over the company’s Web site, do Google searches, check out LinkedIn again. You should also prepare for the questions that inevitably come up in an interview. You know the ones. “What are your strengths and weaknesses?” “How have you dealt with a conflict at work?” Practice your responses to those questions with someone. (Hint: Don’t give a real weakness like you lack attention to detail, and don’t rely on the “I’m just too much of a perfectionist” either.)
I think the interview went well. Now what should I do?
Make sure you send an e-mail or thank-you card as soon as you can — typically within a day of your interview. Some experts recommend sending both an e-mail, with additional thoughts about your qualifications, as well as a card simply thanking the person for his or her time. If you met with a number of people, try to personalize the message for each one. Also, at the end of your interview, you should have asked the hiring manager whom to contact with additional questions and where the company is in the hiring process.
The HR manager said a decision would be made by Friday. Here it is 4:45 p.m. on Friday and I haven’t heard a thing. Now what should I do?
First off, don’t call up and vent your frustration, Magnuson says. That happens more often than you might think. Many job search experts recommend waiting until Monday to either call or e-mail the company. Nerve fraying as it is, hiring deadlines often get missed.