Having a great resume is the first critical step in a successful job search. Unfortunately, most people don’t know the best ways to get that resume noticed. In today’s job market, where you are competing with hundreds of other resumes, knowing the right way to distribute your resume can make all the difference.
First of all you need to get organized and stay organized. When you get that call from the 200 resumes you sent out, you need to make sure you are ready to show that you know all about the company that’s calling. So keep a log detailing the name of the company, the position advertised and the dates you contacted them along with any notes.
Next post your resume on the job boards. Note that the job boards are not the most effective way to get a job with most of them having an effectiveness rate of less than 3%. Nonetheless, they should be a part of your strategy. Put your resume on the large job boards and be sure to find the job boards that are specific to your profession as many employers are skipping the expensive giants and focusing their search.
To post your resume, you’ll need an electronic (or ASCII) version of your resume. You can do this by opening your resume in MS Word, hitting File-Save As and choosing Text Only. This will create a .txt version of your resume. Close the file, reopen it and edit out any stray characters left over from your bullets and other graphics characters. This file will now cut and paste into web sites and e-mails and automatically format itself. When you post to the job boards, remember to setup search agents that automatically tell you about a new job posting. This will let you be one of the first ones to apply.
Next find the advertised positions that meet your criteria. You can do this by surfing the job boards, checking the papers and looking at company web sites. Don’t forget to look at trade publications as less people respond to those ads meaning you’re up against less competition. As much as possible, try to find the name of the hiring manager and address your correspondence directly to them.
Now revise your cover letter to fit the ad. Remember that an employer will look at your cover letter for 3-7 seconds, so keep it brief and easy to read using white space and bullets. Do not try to repeat what is already in your resume. Instead, tell them how you meet the criteria they mentioned in their advertisement. Then proofread the cover letter as any mistakes will eliminate you.
Print your resume and cover letter on matching stationery, either a white or buff colored 24 lb. paper. Stay away from the fancy colors. If you have the extra money, a 100% cotton watermarked paper is impressive, but not really necessary. Look at the copies to make sure they are neatly printed. Buy matching 9 x 12 envelopes as they will stand out more and your good-looking resume won’t have to be folded. If you can print labels, buy the clear kind as they look almost as if they were typed on the envelope.
Next, we will make sure that you are noticed because we will be e-mailing and sending your resume and following up with a phone call. Yes, this is aggressive and if you do it correctly, you will definitely be noticed. Follow the instructions in the ad first, so if they say e-mail the resume then do that first. Otherwise send the paper copies first and send the e-mail 2 days later, mentioning that the e-mail is a follow-up to your mailed resume. Remember to mark in your Job Search Log the date you e-mailed/mailed them.
Finally, prepare to call the employer no later than 3 days after your resume has arrived. This is critical as most people don’t do this. Most importantly, develop a phone script to use. If you just say, “I’m calling to see if you got my resume”, then you’ve blown it. Instead show that you know something about the company and state that you’d really like to know more about the job. Then ask one or two great questions that demonstrate your knowledge and insights. For example, if you are going for a sales position, ask, “I know your company is growing, is this position for a new territory or an existing one?” If they say it’s a new territory, casually mention how you opened a new territory before and delivered 120% of sales targets. As much as possible try to build a rapport with the person you’re speaking with, as employers hire people they like. Key tip: watch your energy level and intonation as they are the most important factors that define how you will come across. Be friendly, professional and conversational. End by asking if you may call them again next week to see how the selection process is progressing.
Remember that most people don’t follow these steps and if you do, your resume will rise to the top of the stack!
by Don Goodman
Don Goodman is President of About Jobs (www.gotthejob.com) a Resume Writing and Job Search Assistance firm.