After a recent conversation with a client, I was inclined to dig deeper into this specific topic and put everything into an article. My goal is to encourage candidates not to throw in the towel after a couple weeks of applying across a particular industry and not attracting the type of interest from recruiters and employers expected. The thought process is to change your approach, not give up.
If you read my last blog post, you are familiar with a book I mentioned titled Blue Ocean Strategy. As a quick recap, the plot revolves around outperforming the competition in ways that do not require going head to head, but simply maneuvering around them with new and fresh ways of thinking. Now, as you tirelessly apply for positions after already working a long day at your current position, taking care of the kids at home or whatever it is consuming your time, what could you do differently to attract the ideas of the beholder (AKA-recruiters)?
If you put yourself into the shoes of the recruiter, what do they want to see? The first major point is what impact you have had on roles held in the past. The breakdown of this initiative is being direct and results-aware when filling the experience section of your resume, LinkedIn page, etc. A great example in any type of sales role is providing quantitative results for work specifically done under your umbrella. Another way to pull the readers attention is to include data in the Executive Summary section of your resume. I will touch on this a bit later as there is a great debate about the efficacy of the Executive Summary.
Another impact point is to adjust the formatting of your resume and LinkedIn in order to make the readability friendlier. All the important and relevant details the employer wants to see may be listed, but if they’re hidden in paragraphs or the last page, unfortunately, you don’t stand a chance at receiving a phone call for next steps. Stressing ‘clear and concise’ will be on repeat throughout this article. Use effective bullet points to draw attention and remember what position you are applying for. Avoid using an Executive Summary to insert fluff into the most imperative section of your resume.
Utilize the Job Description
When you read through the job description, do you have experience matching what the position would like to see? If so, then turn those similarities into a large attention grabber. Recruiters and employers always search for a candidate who can tackle their workload most effectively and grow the business, so if you have relevant experience or successes, count them as a gold star. I cannot emphasize making those details jump off the page enough. Not only does it highlight the quality candidate you are, it simplifies the job of the recruiter to decide if you’re a solid fit for the role. Think of the job description and requirements as a complimentary gift for your interest in the position. Your responsibility before landing the job is to utilize the information properly.
Ever since I was a kid, my mom always used to say “Utilize the resources around you to their greatest extent.” In some cases, this is networking and learning through conversations. In this example, it is digging deep to become the ideal candidate each role you apply for. Start off with a bang and make a great first impressions displaying you’ve done your research and you’re ready to prove why you’re the right fit.
My last tip for soundly landing the first phone interview after submitting your application and resume is follow-up. One of the most underrated pieces of the job search puzzle is the follow-up aspect. Now, let me preface this with the some (few) situations where there truly is no contact information provided at any level and getting in touch is difficult. But, throughout most processes an email, phone number or LinkedIn account of someone who matters can be located.
The key here is to always be looking. The first potential location for this information is the job posting. When you scroll all the way to the bottom, is there a section with content about who posted the job? Second, is when you submit the application. Most likely a screen will appear saying “Congratulations, you’ve submitted your application. Once we review your documents, a member of our staff with reach out to you.” In many scenarios, there is contact info at the bottom. If there is still nothing there, utilize LinkedIn, which I highly recommend regardless. You can search the company, people who work there, possibly recruiters they work with or the HR department. Lastly, when a recruiter calls for a long-awaited position, your heart starts pounded and all you can think about is saying the right thing. After the phone call, your mind is jumping in a million different directions, BUT the first thing to do is save the information in your phone for the purpose of follow-up. If you have not heard anything by the end of the week after they mentioned that time frame, give them a ring and check to see if there is anything else you could do to help move the process along. The same idea goes for email, although this vault can be a little easier to dig through, it’s still vital to save email addresses for key players.
The overall message here is to promote yourself as an ideal candidate by being attentive and detailed. Thinking from the perspective of the recruiter and positioning yourself as a one of kind candidate will prove to be easier than you once thought. Let me know if you have any further suggestions about how to stand out most effectively.
Rebecca Wagner - I actively find flow through unparalleled focus on propelling the careers of others. These posts will help to share my thought processes about development, self-awareness and growth.