In my last post, I gave you two ways to stretch outside your comfort zone when applying to advertised jobs. There are also three things you can do within the application process itself that will enhance your chances of making it to the top of the pile.
- Customize your fit to the job. Fine-tune your cover letter and resume for every application. Look carefully at the posting and mine for the required and preferred criteria; and within the description of the job itself. Pull out unique words you find. Look particularly for nouns and phrases. For example, a posting for a Graphics Designer in packaging might state “file transfer of package design files.” An opening for a Retail Distribution Manager might refer to “capital investment plans”. An ad for an Executive Assistant might include “Kronos time management systems for several departments.” Don’t overlook verbs and other word forms. Today’s ATS screeners are sophisticated! Pluck your matching qualifications out and put them in your resume. Resumes get separated from cover letters, so make sure that anything important is in your résumé itself. And take it beyond plugging in the word or phrases. Show the metrics and success story behind it in a brief one to two-sentence bullet.
Once you have tweaked to add these words and phrases into your branding and top section, as well as your experience and education where applicable, save the resume as a separate document with that job/company name.
- Competition name drop. Employers search for resumes with their competitors’ names in them. Consider these to be secondary resume keywords or phrases. It might be the companies’ actual names that you worked for, their products or brands, notable industry qualifications, training associations etc. It might be that you were their customer or vice versa. Be creative but truthful; and weave! This is also a good reason to narrow your targets to companies within a certain market or industry niche as those you’ve worked for.
- You’re right there. If the job is in San Francisco, put San Francisco on your résumé heading. Omit the rest of the regular contact heading information that shows you’re living in Minneapolis, Minnesota. You can omit street address, city, state and zip code. If your phone number is a particular area code, you can omit that as well, but people often use mobile phones with the same trailing number. So, area codes are not a dead give-away. However, to really zone in on the targeted locale match, giving your name, city, state (of the job) and email is appropriate.
Barb Poole | San Francisco | [email protected]
Obviously, you had better be ready and able to move to San Francisco quickly! Then you can truthfully position yourself as an up-and-coming or new local!
- Be prepared for intrusion with online applications and profiles that you’ll often be asked to complete on company websites. Their HR may ask you for work background, bosses, references, phone numbers, reasons for having left—a myriad of information you don’t wish to give out to strangers. Skip windows requesting particularly private information if the program will let you (it won’t always). Try substituting nonsense, i.e. #willsharelater or similar. And never, ever give out information that might be used to scam you, particularly your social security number and date of birth.
- Be persistent. Companies are fickle in hiring practices, for many reasons as unique as the situations. They can take weeks or months to make decisions. They may freeze things. They may shift agendas. They may be overloaded. If you don’t hear anything, follow up within a week of your application (if you can get through and have not been instructed to not email or phone). If you hear nothing, send a follow-up email or snail mail note (if you can). Reach back to an inside contact if you can. And start over until you hear “No” or “It’s been filled.” Then tick that box off your list. BUT not the company. There may be another opportunity around the corner!
Photo credit: Lisa Padilla